Teachers’ union fined for striking last
year – O’Farrell attacks ‘bastardry’
THE New South Wales Teachers’ Federation has been fined $6000 over an illegal strike.
Some 67,000 teachers walked off the job last September 8 over a 2.5 per cent cap on public sector wages.
The 24-hour action defied an 11th hour ruling from the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).
IRC Justice Wayne Haylen today (Thursday) fined the union $6000.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, says the IRC is moving at “glacial speed” to enforce fines against the federation.
Thousands of teachers across the state walked off the job yesterday (Wednesday), despite an order from IRC.
During the strike, teachers said they are likely to down tools again after voting to intensify a campaign against the State Government’s plans to give principals control over a school’s budget.
Mr O’Farrell says he’s frustrated at the slow pace of the IRC.
“Today or tomorrow the Industrial Commission will consider imposing a penalty for similar illegal strike action by teachers from nine months ago,” he told Sydney media this morning before the IRC fined the teachers’ union.
“They (the IRC) are moving at glacial speed to enforce their own rules.”
He also took aim at the $10,000 fine the union will face for striking, saying it fails to act as a deterrent.
Legislation is now before the Upper House to “bring fines in NSW up to speed with other states”.
“The fine for yesterday’s industrial action is likely to work out to be $2 a teacher,” says Mr O’Farrell.
“It is not surprising that they will continue to engage in this sort of bastardry.”
But the NSW Teachers' Federation says the government has forced its hand as it has failed to guarantee the education budget will be maintained.
It also wants guarantees that permanent teaching positions won’t decrease and class sizes won’t increase.
Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, told Sydney media this morning that class sizes will not be increased and that there are “no plans” to reduce the number of permanent teachers.
“(However) if a school decides they want a temporary teacher . . . why wouldn’t we allow them to do that if it’s in the best interest of students?”
Mr Piccoli says he cannot guarantee funding in future budgets.