Hundreds of SA schools impacted by teachers’ strike

Nearly 170 public schools will shut across South Australia tomorrow while many others will remain open with “modified learning programs” as teachers strike over pay demands and plan to rally at Parliament House.

Aug 31, 2023, updated Aug 31, 2023
File photo: AAP

File photo: AAP

The Education Department has listed 167 preschools, primary and high schools closing due to industrial action on its website.

The department says that most public schools will either remain open as normal or with modified programs, or had previously scheduled a pupil-free day for Friday.

Some schools have advised parents that students can attend tomorrow and be supervised but there will be no lessons.

“Families can send their children to the site as normal; however, please note that a modified program will be provided to students until the end of the school day. This means that groups of students will be supervised but regular classes will not take place,” one school told parents.

The department said that “every site will have a staff member onsite to ensure no child is turned away if they are dropped off unexpectedly”.

The strike was called by the Australian Education Union, which is demanding pay rises of between 5 and 8.6 per cent a year for the next three years, as well as funding for extra classroom support.

The union said the government pay offer of 3 per cent a year equated to a pay cut when measured against inflation.

Source: Australian Education Union SA website

The union also demanded funding for many more school support officers, but said the government offered only $48,559 for each school per year, which the union said did not cover the cost for one SSO.

“The Premier may talk about the cost to taxpayers, but when he can find $2 billion to build submarines and $450 million for a university merger nobody asked for, how can he put a price on your child’s future?” AEU SA president Andrew Gohl told members last week.

The union balloted members about possible industrial action and said the result last Friday showed 80 per cent supported the move.

Education Minister Blair Boyer and Industrial Relations Minister Kyam Maher have been negotiating with the union this week to try to avert Friday’s strike but conceded that it was now likely to occur, although talks are ongoing.

“I think the gap between what the union is asking for and what the state is able to deliver is still too large at this point,” Boyer said.

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Gohol said on Monday following the ballot that after nine months of negotiations, teachers would take action as they were “doing their best to paper over the cracks and keep the system running, but this treatment cannot go on”.

“The result of this ballot shows we are not willing to accept an offer which would see the current crisis in public education continue,” he said.

The AEU website promoting Friday’s strike and rally said “the Government has pushed educators to breaking point”.

“We must stand together to secure a better deal for our public schools and preschools,” it said.

“The Premier and the Treasurer are turning their back on public education. Right now, more than 35,000 public school students are without a consistent teacher due to staffing shortages.

“Educators doing their best, but if things don’t improve, half plan to leave teaching. The Premier knows there’s a crisis, but apparently, submarines and a university merger are worth more than our kids and their teachers. Let’s send a clear message that they deserve better.”

The union has urged teachers to email the Premier’s office and is holding a best rally sign competition.

“We’ll be holding a competition for the best sign on the day! Get your colleagues together to make signs including your creative quips and the message you want to send Peter Malinauskas,” its website said. 

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