THE Australian Education Union and the Community and Public Sector Union have been accused of overstepping the mark after they directed members not to write student reports and to ban extra-curricular activities.
In a statement last week, Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall hit out at the unions, urging them to call off their escalated industrial action and warned the government would seek an injunction to prevent further action.
“The Coalition Government will no longer tolerate actions like the planned state-wide strike on 14 February that will cause significant disruption to the start of the school year and to the education of Victorian government school students,” Mr Hall said.
He said the government had notified unions it believed some elements of their current log of claims were illegal.
“We have informed the unions that if they do not cease their threatened industrial action by 29 January, it is the Coalition Government’s intention to seek an injunction from the Federal Court, under the Fair Work Act, to prevent such actions,” Mr Hall said.
He said the State Government had invited the unions to meet in the week of 28 January to resume discussion towards a resolution of the dispute, which had been ongoing for more than two years.
“All teachers received a 2.75 per cent salary increase last year, putting teachers’ salaries in the range of $56,985 for a graduate teacher to $91,883 for a leading teacher at the top of the salary scale,” Mr Hall said.
“We are prepared to talk business with the union; if the AEU want more than a 2.5 per cent salary increase for their members, then they need to talk to us about how student learning outcomes can be improved and how teachers can contribute to that improvement.”
In response to Mr Hall’s statement, the AEU said the dispute could only be resolved through negotiations and not through the courts.
In a later statement, the union said negotiations were set to resume on 31 January.
AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the AEU was seeking legal advice on the content of the documents submitted by the Baillieu Government.
“The AEU gave the government its log of claims over two years ago and just last night received a letter threatening court action about the content of that log of claims,” Ms Peace said.
“The AEU put a significantly revised offer – of 12.6 per cent over three years – to the Baillieu Government in November and have yet to receive a formal response.”
She said the unions were prepared to return to the negotiating table with the Baillieu Government provided it put “a reasonable offer forward”.
The AEU was originally asking for a 30 per cent pay increase over three years.