“PERFORMANCE pay, no way” was the chant from Catholic school teachers yesterday outside the office of state member for South West Coast Denis Napthine.
While Dr Napthine wasn’t on hand to meet the protesters, their message was heard loud and clear down Liebig Street as the teachers joined thousands across Victoria protesting the state government’s plans to introduce performance pay.
Drivers tooted in support and some nurses showed up in a sign of cross-profession solidarity as the Catholic school teachers voiced their concerns about the government’s plans.
“We don’t tell a vet how to do his job, we don’t tell an architect how to do his job, so I don’t want them telling me how to do my job,” Emmanuel College teacher Michael Barling told the crowd of about 40, referring to Dr Napthine and Premier Ted Baillieu’s pre-political careers.
He said the idea of performance pay would create rivalry between teachers and a negative culture at schools, while forcing children to be labelled in order to measure teachers’ performances.
Dr Napthine described the protest as “misguided”, saying the protesting Catholic teachers should have been addressing the Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV), which would be responsible for introducing performance pay, not the government.
“I don’t know why they’re protesting outside my office,” he said. “If they’ve got issues with the conditions of their employment they need to take them up with their employers, not the state government.”
But as Catholic Education executive director Stephen Elder told The Age on Tuesday, the protesting Catholic teachers were aware of that. “This is not a strike against the employer but a strike in support of another union,” Mr Elder said.
Independent Education Union general secretary Debra James said the introduction of performance pay for public school teachers was likely to filter across to Catholic schools.
“In addition to our members receiving the same pay rise as staff in government schools, the CECV has made it clear in negotiations with the IEU over the next Catholic agreement that it intends to seek the same or similar ‘trade-offs’ gained by the state government for staff in Catholic education,” she said.
Meanwhile, public school teachers from across the south-west joined 15,000 teachers at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne as part of their campaign for better pay and smaller class sizes.
Warrnambool College principal Mary Pendergast said five year 12 students attended school yesterday, with all other students ignoring the Education Department’s encouragement to attend school as per normal yesterday.
Ms Pendergast stressed that the statewide protest was less about wages and more about the school culture performance-based pay would create and the effect that would have on the students.
“We’ve spent the last decade working on teaching in teams and collaborations between teachers,” she said.
“Who’s going to want to do that when they have to compete for an increase in wages?
“There’s enough research in the US that shows what the state government is putting on the table doesn’t work.”