Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Music Teachers Fight Victimization

Instrumental music teachers in South Australia have rallied behind two colleagues who have been singled out by the Education Department for special treatment.

This follows their leading role in organizing resistance to cuts to the Department’s instrumental music program.

The two teachers, Geoff Barreau and Steve Eads, had spoken out in the media about the disastrous effects of the Department’s cuts.

They were exercising rights that we are taught in schools to take for granted, living in a “democracy”.

Barreau was soon to discover that workplace democracy, even under a “Labor” state government, is just a fig leaf for managerial prerogative.

He was dragged into head office and had the public sector Code of Conduct thrust under his nose by senior DECS officers despite the Code itself promising no fear of reproach for “professional service and advice that is frank and apolitical”.

Fortunately, he was accompanied by the President of his union and this first threat was waithdrawn.

Barreau then became a central figure in the organization of a public meeting attended by some 1500 members of the community.

In retaliation, he and colleague Eads have been told that they are being investigated by the Department for “bullying”, and both have been relocated to other worksites.

In response, peripatetic instrumental music teachers have held two rallies of support outside the Department’s office, and took their first step industrial action by refusing to use their own cars to go out to schools at which they deliver music programs.

These teachers have traditionally exercised goodwill towards their employer by not demanding Government cars despite the Commissioner for Public Employment ruling that no employee can be compelled to use their private vehicle on government business.

Most of the teachers will remain at their base, on duty, but unable to deliver lessons in the absence of G-cars or taxis supplied by the department.

The instrumental music teachers will meet next Monday to consider escalating industrial action, beginning with a stop-work on Tuesday.

Students from Marryatville High (a specialist music school in Adelaide) join teachers outside the offices of the Education Department)

1 comment:

Mike said...

Adelaide Nov 8, 2007: After several months of campaigning with the support of the Australian Education Union, the two music teachers have been exonerated by the Education Department. The capitalist press admitted that this was "an embarrassing development" for the Department. AEU President Andrew Gohl said: "It was what we said it was from the outset - a politically motivated attack on two critics of attempts to change a music prgrame."
Music teachers celebrated the win with another rally outside the Department.