Government calls on AEU to ‘put children first’ and postpone strike until school holidays

The State Government has urged union bosses at the Australian Education Union to show some compassion, common sense and courtesy towards parents, grandparents and students by postponing their full-day school strike a week to coincide with the start of school holidays.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said hardworking families shouldn’t be unfairly punished by union bosses’ insistence on industrial action, which could see tens of thousands of students across the state forced to stay home from school and miss valuable lessons while parents scramble to arrange alternate care for their children.

“If the union bosses really cared about the best interests of students they would put children first and postpone this silly strike,” said Mr Lucas.

“In the AEU’s haste for a photo opportunity on the steps of Parliament, they are potentially denying tens of thousands of students across the state an opportunity to learn whilst creating undue chaos and stress for their parents and grandparents who now have very little time to arrange alternate care.

“The only sensible solution, other than calling the strike off, is for the union to postpone it a week until the start of the school holidays to alleviate any unnecessary disruption for families.”

Mr Lucas said the Government hoped to know by tomorrow night how many schools will have to close as a result of the strike, and how many will remain open, albeit with potentially reduced staffing numbers.

He said principals will be in contact with their school communities with respect to each individual school site.

Mr Lucas said the Government’s formal enterprise agreement offer to the AEU and the Public Service Association of SA on behalf of the state’s 28,000 teachers, principals and support staff – which includes salary increases of 2.35 per cent per annum up until May 2022 – was ‘exceptionally fair and reasonable’.

This is clearly more than reasonable given that the current inflation rate is only 1.3 per cent.

“While we respect their right to industrial action, we have made it quite clear that no amount of chanting, waving placards and singing John Farnham songs is going to make more money magically appear in the budget,” Mr Lucas said.

“The Government has put forward an exceptionally fair and reasonable offer, one that provides a 2.35 per cent per annum pay rise until May 2022 and millions in additional funding for schools with higher levels of complexity, for highly-accomplished and lead teachers and country incentives.

“Not to mention the additional $1.3 billion in capital works funding for schools announced in the recent 2019-20 State Budget, and the fact that we are pouring in an additional $611 million a year into education by 2022-23.”

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