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By Abid Ahmadzai

Victorian teachers and Education Support (ES) along with the Australian Education Union (AEU) took part in a 15,000 strong rally yesterday (September 5, 2012) to increase teacher’s salaries and for better working conditions in the state.

The rally took place at Rod Laver Arena where the Victorian branch president for the AEU, Mary Bluett, led the charge against the Baillieu governments broken promises.

Mrs Bluett said that the support numbers for the AEU had overwhelmingly grown and that the AEU had surpassed the 50,000 member mark for Victoria during the current action that’s taking place.

Many schools across the state had been affected by the strike action yesterday with schools and teachers from as far as Ballarat taking part in the strike.

“We estimate 400 schools are closed across the state,” Mrs Bluett said.

The Baillieu government has offered the AEU a 2.5 per cent increase in salaries along with the introduction of performance pay and contract employment.

According to a media release from the AEU, Western Australia and New South Wales teachers get paid “$7,441 and $2,822 respectively more than Victorian teachers for the same role”.

AEUVIC_12_Media Release_Historic statewide education strike_KB_040912

A complete joke and insult, according to Mrs Bluett.

Federal President for the AEU, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the Baillieu should honor their promise.

“Treat education support staff, teachers and principals in this state with the respect they earned and the respect they deserve”, Mr Gavrielatos said.

“The announcement in this year’s budget of a cut of $300 million from the TAFE budget is a fundamental attack on public education and an attack on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in Victoria,” he said.

Mr Gavrielatos did however announce that the federal government has stated it would embrace schools funding reform consistent with the Gonski funding principals.

The Gonski report according to their website was “the most comprehensive investigation of the way schools are funded in Australia in almost 40 years”.

State member for Narre Warren South, Judith Graley, said almost all the schools in her electorate where taking part in the strike action.

“Strike action is a last resort but they’ve been pushed into this situation because of the failure of the Baillieu government to honour their word and live up to their promise that they [Victorian teachers] would be the best paid teachers in Australia,” Mrs Graley said.

Mrs Bluett also launched a new website for all parents, teachers and members which has all the up to date information on the campaign.

Please click on the link to view photos of the Teachers Rally