I am conflicted.
But first, thank you for reading my
blogs throughout the campaign. Your support been appreciated. From the
first blog in June until now I had triple the amount of views. The last
blog in February had more than 1500 views. Your messages of support
helped me, and my colleagues, through the campaign.
And here we are.
each blog I was clear - this was never about the money. I said so to
motivate my colleagues, to educate the lay person on why we had to fight
for a better deal, and on why we inconvenienced parents and students
for three-and-a-half days. I meant every single word. More money would
be nice. But I saw this as an opportunity to advance our profession. Our
log of claims had more provisions that would improve our conditions
than it did details about money. I had hope we could take a stand and
push teaching well into the 21st Century. That's why I call it a
profession - it is more than a mere job or career. It is a calling. It
is a noble occupation - one of service and one critical to our
development as a society. The best of us are amongst the kindest, more
generous and selfless people in the country. We deserve to be treated as
such and be able to work in conditions that allow us to excel at our
My expectations have not changed at all.
That is why I am conflicted. My government and my union do not share my expectations.
The government is only concerned
with where they can save money. That's why they gutted the regional
offices, cut VCAL funding and look to put up performance pay and make it
available to only a fixed amount of staff - regardless of overall
school performance. (Allow me to digress for a moment - performance
standards should be maintained, enforced and developed. Hell perhaps
there should be bonuses. But this is not what the government suggested,
nor did they put up for a model for what the performance standards would
look like. It was dollars and cents - nothing else.) The government has
shown no interest in our welfare or creating conditions that would
allow us to educate every single kid. Instead we will remain overworked
and under resourced. Quite simply - this government does not care about
our students or the people we entrust them too everyday. School
improvement does not fit the election cycle, nor is it sexy for the TV.
my union is no better. The campaign was flawed from the start and
treated the public like idiots. Instead of promoting our conditions they
focused solely on the "best paid in the country" election promise.
Politicians lie - especially when seeking re-election. Highlighting this
does not court the public's sympathy or support. And it sets us up for
failure. When you publicly campaign on the prospect of increased wages
you better deliver. The proposed agreement does not give us 30% over
three years. It does not give us all 12% over three years either (our
revised offer). The figures quoted by the union include the automatic
2.75% from the previous agreement (for not having a new agreement by
January 1, 2012). It include the $1000 sign-on bonus. Which is great - I
lost just under $900 in pay for striking. At my current pay level I'll
end up with around 10% more by 2016. Which I will take.
I won't take is the conditions. Class sizes are the same (we wanted
them lower). Face-to-face hours are the same (we should have wanted them
lower). There have been changes to the excess rules which will save the
government money because more expensive, experienced teachers will not
be able to transfer to another school if their school downsizes or
closes. This is great news for the thousand graduates looking for a job.
Not so great for the hundreds who have been displaced already. There
have been no changes to the situation with contracts. This was a central
part of our campaign (as it was in 2004 and 2008) and we have made no
progress. Monitoring contracts does not mean a thing - they are
monitored now. Maintaining the status quo is fine if you're satisfied
with the status quo. And here in lies the problem.
worst part if the agreement has (as it was in 2008) been presented to
the public as a win. From this there is no turning back. It was released
to members, finally, on Friday afternoon. Confusingly the government
also called it a win and quoted different figures! The public's patience
has been stretched by our strikes, the government's stubbornness and
the fact that a lot of people don't rate what we do.
is the conflict. We vote NO and reject a pretty shitty deal and we
probably spend another year negotiating. The government does not want to give us more money - which is why they have not in the proposed deal. The public will not support us
through more strikes and don't even notice the other bans we had in
place with the exception of reports. The 38 hour week? My school
cancelled exactly one event - and it was one that teachers barely
attended anyway. Teachers don't like to do things that disadvantage
students. Our hearts are just too big. And that's why the campaign is
If we vote YES we accept the deal and the
conditions. This is great if you're fine with how things are now. It is
basically the same. We have made no progress and, to be honest, the
union is not interested in this either. I doubt most teachers are
interested in it. But they should be. We allowed them to run a campaign
about the pay, and allowed factions to debate the place of entertainment
in our rallies. It is time we expect more of ourselves and our
The answer then lies with the teachers. If
you want to be treated like a professional you need to act like one and
we, as a profession, need start holding each other to a higher standard.
Most importantly we need to hold our government and our union to that
standard. If we want progress then it will come from us. We deserve to
be paid and treated as if we are being entrusted to enrich and develop the next
generation. We must work to convince others, including our union
leaders, that this is what we want.
But not this battle. This campaign is done. We have a government and union that are only interested in dollars and cents.
I am conflicted on how I will vote for this agreement. I don't see the point in voting NO, but barely agree with the YES.
I am clear about what I expect from my government and my union. When the time comes I will vote accordingly on both.
We are a great profession. We need to remind them of it.
I want this profession to move forward. And I will continue to fight for conditions that are better for our children.
me a favour. This week write to a teacher (current or former). You can
find them on facebook no doubt. Express your gratitude. Their union and
our government has kicked them - pick them up again. Trust me, we rarely get
acknowledged for what we do. If you know someone who deserves send them
a quick note.
"People should not be afraid of their governments - Governments should be afraid of their people."
Thank you for your support.