Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Victory by Teachers on WorkCover

Sleepy Hollow has been active the last couple of weeks!

First, the nurses lodged a claim for a 14% pay rise over 2 years and were given the South Australian Government’s “best offer” of 10.5% over 3 years. Public opinion, already firmly behind the nurses, became more strongly pro-nurses when it was revealed that State pollies would get an automatic 6.7% per year flow-on pay rise following that granted to Federal pollies.

At about the same time, teachers began a campaign (see earlier posts) against cuts to education, ambulance officers placed a ban on charging people for their services following a breakdown in their wage negotiations, dentists in the State dental services slapped a ban on charging patients for services for the same reason, and psychiatrists in public hospitals filled out mass letters of resignation as part of their dispute which includes the employment of 15 extra psychiatrists to offset workload problems.

Now it has been announced by the Premier that the WorkCover levy will not proceed.
This 11th hour decision was announced as final plans were being made by teachers and schools for tomorrow’s strike, supported by more than 80% of AEU members.

This is a great initial victory for teachers and parents in their campaign to stop cuts in public education. However, we need to bear in mind that the WorkCover levy represented about 10% ($16.9m) of the total savings ($170.3m) required over four years. And only $104m of the "savings" were actually identified in any case - there's still $64m in cuts as yet unidentified and unannounced. As an example of these, schools are just discovering that the "Security" and "Fire" lines in their Repairs and Maintenance Statements - previously paid by the Government - will now be passed onto schools for payment. This could be anywhere from $6000-$10,000 per year. We have to be vigilant that the Government does not pass on what it expected to be saving by getting schools to pay for WorkCover into other charges and levies on schools.

The AEU Executive has announced that in the light of today’s announcement by the Premier, tomorrow’s strike will be postponed, and that the Government will have until August 17 to negotiate in good faith around other elements in the cuts.

No comments: