Union calls for NSW Government to scrap cap to address teacher shortages - Education Matters Magazine
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Union calls for NSW Government to scrap cap to address teacher shortages

scrap the wage cap

The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW and ACT Branch – representing more than 32,000 teachers, support staff, and principals in the non-government education sector – is calling on the NSW Government to immediately scrap the wage cap for government-funded education employees and support staff.

According to internal documents from the Department of Education, teaching vacancies in public schools reached 3,253 by November 2022 – a number that has tripled since 2011. The documents further reveal that the turnover rate for teaching positions has increased from 2.7 per cent in 2011, to four per cent in 2022.

The IEUA said one of the primary reasons for the current teacher shortage is the disparity between teacher’s wages and cost of living, and many union members are fed up with waiting for the government to acknowledge the urgency of the situation.

The result is “a self-fulfilling prophesy,” with overworked teachers in understaffed schools continuing to suffer burnout, which ultimately discourages Year 12 students from deciding to pursue teaching as a profession, according to IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary Ms Veronica Yewdall.

“The reduction in the number of students choosing teaching degrees and the increase in the number of those failing to complete these degrees is creating a perfect storm,” she said.

Ms Yewdall said the failure of government and employers to seriously address workload issues for teaching staff means the number of teachers available to fill positions at both government and non-government schools has been severely restricted.

“Not only are there vacancies, but teachers are being asked to teach subjects outside their area of training, skill, and experience. This is not fair on teachers and their students,” she said.

“Governing bodies and employers in the education sector need to collaborate with each other and co-operate with the unions to remedy these workload issues – as a matter of urgency. Twelve years of the NSW Government teacher wage suppression has taken its toll on the profession. The salary cap must be scrapped.”

Catholic union members strike to dispute low wages

The pay cap on public school teachers and support staff influences the pay for Catholic and independent schoolteachers, creating a ripple effect that further impacts the quality of the education students are receiving, according to the IEUA.

In late November, Catholic school teachers begun striking to dispute low wage agreements, after the government failed to deliver on a revised enterprise agreement that commenced negotiations in February 2022.

In what many considered to be a derisive decision by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, the revised agreement would grant teachers in NSW government schools pay rises of 2.29 per cent in 2022 and 2.53 per cent in 2023.

The increment was widely deemed to be unacceptable by teachers’ unions – and renegotiations have been delayed ever since.

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