District teachers and support staff took their collective concerns about pay and conditions to Member for Rodney Paul Weller's office yesterday.By Ruth Clayton
More than 100 teachers and support staff protested outside Member for Rodney Paul Weller’s office yesterday morning as part of the Australian Education Union’s Keep The Promise campaign.
Wearing red campaign shirts and holding protest signs, AEU members from schools in Echuca, Leitchville, Rochester, Cohuna and Tongala waited outside the office while four AEU members, including deputy president Meredith Peace, discussed teachers’ pay and conditions with Mr Weller.
The AEU says the campaign is aimed to keep Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu accountable for his pledge to make Victoria’s teachers the highest paid in the country.
The union is demanding better wages, better working conditions, reasonable class sizes and non performance-based pay.
Negotiations between the AEU and the Victorian Government over pay and conditions initially broke down on April 19, according to AEU president Mary Bluett.
The AEU said negotiations were back on the table in September and broke down mid-November when the Victorian Government failed to respond to the union’s offer regarding pay.
Addressing the crowd after the discussion, Ms Peace thanked Mr Weller for agreeing to meet with the AEU representatives and said the protest had a ‘‘fantastic turn-out’’.
‘‘I think we got a pretty good hearing this morning,’’ Ms Peace said.
Ms Peace said the government was an unwilling party in negotiations.
She urged protesters to educate community members about what the campaign was about.
‘‘We have to keep campaigning
AEU Echuca region president Geoff Brown also addressed the crowd saying he hoped negotiations would resume as soon as possible.
Echuca College teacher David Armstrong was one of the protesters.
‘‘It (the rally) is for class sizes and conditions that we work under,’’ Mr Armstrong said.
‘‘We put in a lot of hours after school that we don’t get paid for.
‘‘We deserve at least to be paid the same as any other teacher in Australia.’’
The rally was one of the last of a series of 32 statewide stop-work rallies.
The AEU has organised further stop-work action on February 14.
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