Valley teachers vote yes

Latrobe Valley’s primary and secondary teaching community has voted to accept a pay deal from the State Government, however the agreement is yet to attract comprehensive support.

About 50 school representatives gathered at a delegates meeting in Traralgon on Tuesday, where the agreement was voted through to the next stage of post-enterprise bargaining formalities.

Australia Education Union Gippsland region organiser Jeff Gray said while the meeting harboured a number of questions and debate over the agreement, the vote was passed “strongly” in favour.

“There are still some questions around the process of pay increases, how they happen and the timelines, so it’s clear teachers are still getting their heads around it, and other conditions such as leave conditions for support staff,” Mr Gray said.

While Mr Gray said teachers at the meeting collectively agreed not to release the results of the vote, the explanation for which was unclear, the Latrobe vote attracted stronger support than other parts of Victoria where there had been “strong no campaigns”.

Hazelwood North Primary School principal Paul Jorgensen said his school’s delegate voted against accepting the agreement on behalf of the school’s teachers on the basis of a lack of clarity regarding the pay increase.

“They didn’t want to vote about something they are still unsure about; we feel that the agreement still requires a lot more clarification,” Mr Jorgensen said.

Liddiard Road Primary School union representative Peter Anton said while there would still be some concerns of certain conditions with the agreement, a secret ballot within the school prior to the delegates meeting returned an “overwhelming” acceptance.

Mr Anton said there were still concerns surrounding teachers identified as ‘in excess’, which were forced to find work at other schools, who under the agreement would no longer receive priority placements.

“That has scared a few people, and looking at the profile of schools around the Valley, there are quite a few ageing teachers, and that could play on the minds of a few people who voted against it,” Mr Anton said.

“With some schools struggling with enrolment, I think there could be a few schools that will have teachers in excess in the next 12 months, but while a few school’s populations are dropping others are going up.”

Delegate votes in other Gippsland regions are expected to be completed by the end of the week, with a comprehensive vote by individual teachers set for later this month.