Boyer puts an extra $100m on the table for SA teachers

The state government hopes an ‘improved’ offer to South Australian teachers will stave off a proposed strike this Thursday.

Nov 06, 2023, updated Nov 06, 2023
Education Minister Blair Boyer. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Education Minister Blair Boyer. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

The latest offer is worth about $1.4 billion, up from a previous offer of $1.3 billion, and includes “the biggest shakeup of disability funding in the South Australian education system”.

Education Minister Blair Boyer announced the offer this afternoon ahead of an Australian Education Union (AEU) South Australian Branch meeting where the executive will decide whether to accept the deal or not.

The AEU previously said it would ask public educators to walk off the job this coming Thursday if the government did not put forward an improved offer by its deadline of today.

Over the three years of the government’s latest offer, teacher salaries will rise by 4 per cent in the first year, by 3 per cent in the second year, and by 2.5 per cent in the third year.

“The substantial step-up to 4 per cent in the first year is in direct response to the Union’s call to having something very early in the life of the agreement that deals with salary and cost-of-living,” minister Boyer said.

“Having the 4 per cent in the first year means that percentage increase is compounded in future years.”

As for the Union’s demand for an increase to non-instruction time (NIT) – which the AEU said had not been increased “in more than a decade” – Boyer said any increase would be phased in over a seven-year period under the latest offer.

“That’s following advice that I consistently had around what is possible in terms of recruiting 500 teachers that we needed to deliver that one-hour reduction or increase in non-instruction time,” Boyer said.

The changes to disability funding include removing the need for applications for the first three of nine bands for support funding, which will cost an extra $12 million per year to deliver.

“Schools will no longer need to put in applications for level one, two or three for kids who have disabilities and need extra support,” Boyer said.

“We’ve been told by the Union about the workload that comes with the existing process, how substantial it is; the applications can take as long as 20 hours. We are doing away with that.

“It does not come cheap – it is $12 million extra per year to deliver it, almost $50 million across the forward estimates.”

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Another part of the deal is the government’s “commitment to permanency in the system for temporary relief teachers and permanent relief teachers”.

“We know that nationally we have an issue with retaining and attracting staff,” Boyer said.

“That is particularly difficult in a lot of areas, particularly regional parts of the state at the moment to get temporary relief or permanent relief teachers.”

Boyer said he hoped that the government would “get to a final agreement” with the Union soon.

“These things don’t happen by magic or happen easily,” Boyer said.

“I hope what that will mean is we get to a final agreement quickly so that we can deliver a pay rise to teachers.

“What the Union said when they threatened strike action…was that in order to avert strike action this Thursday we would need to make an improved offer at their deadline. So we’ve met the deadline and clearly it’s an improved offer by a lot of money. On that basis, if the Union is true to their word, there won’t be a strike on Thursday. The ball is in their court now.”

When asked whether this was the government’s “best and final offer”, Boyer said “it should certainly be enough to get a final agreement”.

“I’ve got to wait to hear what the Union comes back with now,” he said.

“Offer number one was a record, two was bigger than that, and three is bigger than that again – so it’s not for lack of endeavour on the behalf of this government.”

The AEU’s SA Branch will meet tonight to consider the latest proposal.

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