STRIKING teachers issued a catch cry outside the offices of MP Denis Napthine yesterday — if they can handle year 9 boys, they can deal with defiant Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.
The 100-strong rally coincided with tens of thousands of teachers packing into Melbourne’s Hisense Arena after marching through the city yesterday afternoon.
In Warrnambool, Australian Education Union (AEU) members picketed Dr Napthine’s office alongside Catholic schoolteachers from the Independent Education Union (IEU).
Premier Ted Baillieu has refused to budge on the offer of a 2.5 per cent pay rise each year for three years, while the AEU is campaigning for 12.5 over the same time frame.
Almost half of all new teachers — 45 per cent — are on short-term contracts and have little assurances of job security, according to the AEU.
Catholic schoolteachers seeking parity with their public counterparts, added their voices to the rally. Teacher Matt O’Brien from St Pius X Primary School said class sizes had ballooned, with his own daughter now in a class of 28 pupils.
“There’s a lot of stuff going around that class sizes don’t have any impact on education, but they do,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Don’t let them wave NAPLAN scores under your eyes. There’s a lot more to do with education than that.”
Emmanuel College teacher Mick Barling used a classroom analogy to describe pay rise negotiations. “It’s a bit like dealing with a year 9 boy,” Mr Barling said. He attacked the government’s performance pay offer saying it would pit teachers against one another.
More than 170 schools closed around the state yesterday, including half a dozen in the south-west. Others were left with just minimal staff. The AEU has not ruled out further stoppages as well as refusing to work overtime and on school camps.