Bus strike Sydney today: New South Wales bus and train drivers to walk off job several times this week
Schools will again be disrupted as teachers across NSW strike on Tuesday.
Public school teachers and principals across NSW are striking as they accuse the government of failing to address unsustainable workloads, uncompetitive salaries and staff shortages.
Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos says he and his council voted unanimously for the stoppage in Sydney on Saturday morning.
“This will be the first 24 hour stoppage in a decade and it reflects the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in,” Mr Gavrielatos said.
But Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the industrial action is a frustrating end to an already difficult year for many parents and carers.
“I want to reassure parents that we are doing all we can to ensure learning continues without disruption – especially given the challenges students, teachers and families have experienced this year,” Ms Harrisson said.
But Mr Gavrielatos said workloads were “unmanageable”, and a wage cap meant their salaries didn’t “reflect the skills or responsibilities they have”.
“The NSW government is concerned about children missing out for one day, but we are concerned about children missing out every day because there simply aren’t enough teachers,” he said.
I want to reassure parents that we are doing all we can to ensure learning continues without disruption
They want a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to “begin to reverse the decline in teachers’ wages compared to other professions”.
The union has seized on government and departmental documents showing a “large and growing shortage of teachers” that is forcing them to teach outside their areas of expertise.
Mr Gavrielatos said the government lacked a coherent strategy to fill 3000 vacant positions and recruit the 11,000 teachers the state would need in the next decade.
But Ms Harrisson said the union was being misleading, and the vacancy rate in NSW for teachers is at a low level for an organisation of its size.
Transport workers also walk off the job
It comes as more than 1200 bus drivers in the inner west took strike action on Monday, protesting what they call a two-tier wage system and cuts to services as a result of privatisation.
The NSW Transport Workers Union and Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW are calling on the government to demand its contractor Transit Systems NSW negotiate with them.
They say it accepted a bid from Transit Systems that left workers at the same depots doing the same jobs, but earning different amounts.
The different pay arrangements have led to more expensive and experienced drivers missing out on penalty shifts and being “rostered out” of the job, they say.
The RTBU has also been negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement for train drivers after the old one expired in May.
The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene standards while not relying on contractors to provide it.
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the strikes planned for Tuesday are disappointing after more than 40 meetings between Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and the union.
Mr Longland said employees had been offered a 2.5 per cent pay increase, inclusive of superannuation.
Transport for NSW said Tuesday’s strikes meant services would run to a reduced frequency on most lines, make additional station stops and take longer to reach their destination.
Commuters are advised to plan ahead.
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