Thousands gather to support improved public education conditions in SA

AEU SA Branch media release: 1 July 2019

Today thousands of AEU members will be joined by colleagues, community members, parents, carers and their families in rallies across the state as part of a full day Stop Work action to improve working and learning conditions in South Australian public schools and preschools.

The largest rally will be held on the steps of Parliament House at 11am, with many travelling to Adelaide from nearby regional towns and areas such as Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Yorke Peninsula, the Riverland and Fleurieu Peninsula in a show of support. Regional rallies will be held at 11am in Mount Gambier, Port Lincoln and Whyalla.

Australian Education Union President (SA Branch) Howard Spreadbury reinforced that the Stop Work action was not taken lightly.

“A full day Stop Work action is a considerable commitment for members and the decision to do so is never taken lightly. We understand it will have an impact for families, but not taking action would lead to a far more detrimental outcome for their children in the long run and that is not a risk we can take,” he said.

The full day Stop Work action is the result of the Marshall Government providing an initial Enterprise Bargaining offer after more than 12 months of negotiations that did not address key issues with working conditions for educators.

After careful consideration, the AEU Branch Executive could not recommend the offer to members, putting industrial action to the vote. AEU members responded with overwhelming support for a full day Stop Work action.

“The Marshall Government has repeatedly tried to downplay the level of support that this Stop Work action has received from the community and our members,” said Mr Spreadbury.

“The Marshall Government and the Department for Education have also been actively pressuring leaders to keep sites open, particularly preschools.”

Mr Spreadbury still remains hopeful for a positive resolution. “Workload and complexity, job security and country incentives must be addressed. We have put forward a modified proposal outlining issues that must be taken into account before an offer will be considered.” he said.

Mr Spreadbury has not ruled out further action in the future. “Branch Executive will be finalising next steps, but this considerable display of support for public education cannot be ignored by the Government,” said Mr Spreadbury.

“Whilst we remain open to discussing a resolution, the Marshall Government needs to remember that actions speak louder than words.”