AEU members vote to strike on 2 February

AEU SA media release: Tuesday 24 January 2022

AEU members from around SA have participated in a stop work ballot to ensure that their health and safety concerns are heard and addressed by the Department for Education and the State Government.

Prior to the ballot this was not the case. 

All preschool and school members were balloted and almost two thirds support taking industrial action in the form of a full day stoppage on Wednesday 2 February.

Like Minister John Gardner, AEU members also want the best education for children and students and that means education in a safe learning environment.

The Government and the Department have an obligation to ensure that all learning spaces are safe for children, students and staff and that all reasonable and practicable measures to create safe learning environments have been implemented. 

Since the vote was put to members, DfE and the AEU have been in constructive negotiations and while some concerns have been addressed, others require further discussion.

AEU negotiators have been guided by the questions:

  1. Is it safe for staff and students?
  2. Does the measure slow the spread of Omicron?
  3. Is it consistent across sites?
  4. Does the measure address wellbeing and mental health concerns?
  5. How does the measure impact upon workloads? 

Unlike the health sector with the provision of full PPE that includes N95 masks and face shields, educators will return to classes of up to 29 students with measures that include at best N95 masks in some classroom situations, social distancing - albeit impossible for many - sanitizer and cleaning with the option to teach outside if weather permits and open windows if possible. 

Tomorrow AEU Executive will consider progress made since Wednesday 19 January. If Executive believes sufficient progress has been made then members will be re-balloted to postpone the action. Conversely, if Executive is dissatisfied then the action will remain on foot pending any timely additional progress in discussions.