Majority of schools to stay open despite Monday’s strike

The overwhelming majority of government schools and preschools have rejected demands by union bosses from the Australian Education Union to close their classrooms and go on a full-day strike and protest on the steps of Parliament House.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said 72 per cent (676) of the state’s 934 government primary, secondary and preschools will remain open – 15 per cent (143) with a modified program.

This means only 28 per cent (258) of South Australia’s 934 sites have reported they will close on Monday.

This is significantly down on the 47 per cent of schools that shut down during the last full-day teachers’ strike in June 2008 – the last time industrial action was staged following an Enterprise Agreement offer made by the then Government.

“We welcome the fact that the overwhelming majority of teachers and school staff have rejected the demands of the union bosses from the Australian Education Union to close down their schools in favour of a premeditated photo opportunity and protest on the steps of Parliament House,” said Mr Lucas.

“While we recognise the fact that there will still be significant disruption and inconvenience to parents, grandparents and students, it’s clear the union bosses have not attracted the level of support that they were seeking from school communities.

“This strike was designed to cause maximum chaos and also additional cost for hardworking families.

“However, clearly a significant number of people respected the fact that this is an entirely fair and reasonable offer, with a 2.35 per cent per annum pay rise over three years – much higher than the current rate of inflation of 1.3 per cent. We have also offered 3.35 percent per annum for principals and preschool directors to May 2022.

“While we respect teachers’ right to industrial action, we’ve made it clear the Government is always prepared to continue to negotiate. However, the taxpayers of SA simply cannot afford any higher salary increase than the 2.35 per cent per annum increase included in this offer.”

Monday’s industrial action will mean 28 per cent of sites will close, which is not too dissimilar to the November half-day strike action, when 21 per cent of sites closed.

“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’s offer provides millions in additional funding for schools with higher levels of complexity, for highly-accomplished and lead teachers and also country incentives.

“In addition, there is $1.3 billion in capital works funding for schools announced in the recent 2019-20 State Budget, and also an extra $611 million a year into education by 2022-23.”

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