Public school teachers across NSW have accused the government of an “act of betrayal,” over the sudden withdrawal of a finalised pay agreement on Friday.
In a furious spray, NSW Teacher’s Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the union had attempted to engage in “good faith bargaining,” claiming an agreement had been minted with the Education and Early Learning Minister Prue Car, and Treasurer Daniel Mookhey since May 31.
In response, Mr Gavrielatos said the union will commence a “program of political action targeting every single member of the government,” encouraging the government to “come to its senses”.
He said the revolt could lead to an “escalation of action in September,” if the issue was unresolved.
“We struck a deal not once, but twice,” he said.
“This is unprecedented in my decades of experience. Never before has a government walked away from a deal in the way that we are experiencing now.”
While Mr Gavrielatos didn’t go into the full details of the agreement, he said it would have resulted in “significant changes” to teacher salary structures.
“We played within the rules established by the government,” he said.
Mr Gavrielatos also said the deal would have helped fix the teacher shortage, by offering competitive salaries that would have made entry-level teachers and “top-of-the-scale teachers” the highest paid in Australia.
“This is a sad day for every teacher across the state, but it’s a worst day for every student across the state whose learning is continually being disrupted because of the crisis of the teacher shortage,” he said.
He said the government had made a counter offer on Wednesday night, however Mr Gavrielatos said it read “more like an insult”.
Asked prior to Mr Gavrielatos’ fiery spray, the NSW Premier Chris Minns urged the NSW Teachers Federation to continue negotiations.
“That doesn’t mean they have to agree with our final offer. That doesn’t mean we’re putting a gun to their head to accept the offer from the NSW government but we want conversations to continue.”
He said he didn’t want a “shoot out,” that could involve disruptive industrial action, or strikes.
“We believe we’ve got a good process in place to lift wages and conditions for the teaching workforce to ensure that more people become teachers straight out of university,” he said.
“I want to give a big message to teachers and parents and students in NSW: ‘We are prepared to talk, we want to get around that negotiating table’.”