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Issue 576, 7 December 2007 - Union Campaign Smashed Howard

Victorian teachers challenge government pay cap

UP TO 10,000 teachers gathered at Melbourne's Vodafone arena on November 21 to vote on the next steps in their campaign against the state government. Teachers at the mass meeting voted to reject the government's pay offer and to support an official motion for a statewide 24-hour strike on February 14 next year. They also endorsed rolling regional four-hour stoppages to follow.

Victorian teachers challenge government pay capThey then joined a march to parliament house in red union ponchos, which created a huge visual impact. The strike closed 150 schools across the state.

Victorian teachers are the lowest paid in the country - so much so that 400 teachers from Victoria have applied for positions interstate next year, in search of better pay and conditions.

But Premier John Brumby has refused to budge on the government's 3.25 per cent pay limit. Teachers are also fighting to reduce the use of short-term contracts, which can see workers having to reapply for their jobs at the end of every year.

One in five teachers are employed on contracts.

Brumby's pay cap was recently beaten by Victorian nurses, after a campaign of work bans and stopworks in defiance of anti-union laws. Concerted industrial action can see teachers do the same.