CLASSROOMS across the south-west will be empty today as public school teachers continue their industrial campaign against the state government for improved pay and conditions.
Members of the Australian Education Union (AEU) will picket the offices of member for South West Coast Dennis Napthine this morning in an attempt to keep up pressure on the government to reach an enterprise bargaining agreement.
Protesters will also descend on the officers of Polwarth MP Terry Mulder in Colac and Lowan MP Hugh Delahunty in Hamilton.
Warrnambool College principal Mary Pendergast said nearly all of the school’s 70 staff would take part in the half-day work stoppage.
“There’s strong support for the industrial action at Warrnambool College,” Ms Pendergast said.
Just five teachers will be left to supervise one class of year 10 students undertaking exams.
It will be the second time this year south-west teachers have rallied outside the offices of local MPs. Teachers at public schools across the state have also banned politicians from entering the grounds for political or media events.
Talks between the government and the union were kick-started five weeks ago after breaking down earlier in the year.
The government’s position on a 2.5 per cent pay increase remains unchanged, while the union continues to call on Ted Ballieu to honour his election promise that he would make Victorian teachers the best paid in Australia.
The union is demanding the government offer a 10 per cent increase over three years.
Dr Napthine yesterday urged teachers and the union to go back to the negotiating table. He said that the performance pay conditions on offer would make some Victorian teachers “the best paid in Australia”.
But AEU Victorian branch vice-president Justin Mallaly said members would continue to oppose performance-based pay, which he said “pitted” staff against each other.
The union leader said about 100 teachers from 25 primary and secondary schools across the south-west would arrive at 10am to deliver Dr Napthine a letter, calling on him to support their claims.
Ms Pendergast said she hoped the dispute could be resolved as soon as possible to end class disruptions.