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Union power waning, says Lucas, as most schools stay open for strike

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Most South Australian public schools will stay open during tomorrow’s half-day strike by teachers in a “vote of no-confidence in the union bosses”, says Treasurer Rob Lucas.

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Lucas has also offered more details on the pay and conditions dispute which he says includes demands for a 3.5 per cent pay raise that would cost the State Government $80 million a year.

Lucas says 692 of SA’s 875 schools and preschools have indicated they will stay open during Thursday morning’s strike with 194 of those offering a modified program.

Only 183 schools have indicated they will close for the morning.

“Let there be no mistake, this is a resounding vote of no-confidence in the union bosses whose ill-conceived rush to strike has been shown to be puerile in the extreme,’’ Lucas said today.

Thursday’s strike will be the first by SA teachers in about 10 years with Australian Education Union state president Howard Spreadbury urging the government to return to negotiations over a new enterprise agreement.

Lucas said the strike a decade ago resulted in the closure of 419 – or 47 per cent – of schools and ran for a full day.

The union says it wants reduced class sizes, more support for country schools and more resources for special needs children among other changes.

“We want them to come back to the table with serious consideration for what we brought to them earlier this year in terms of improvements to conditions in pre-schools and schools which have a direct impact on learning outcomes of our students,” Spreadbury said.

But as well as the annual pay increase, the government says teachers are seeking extra salary increases to address the gender pay gap, more sick leave and more non-contact time with students for report writing and collaboration with their peers.

Lucas said parents, grandparents and many teachers recognised the government was delivering a record investment in education and there was no “plausible, logical or rational reason in the world” for strike action.

– with AAP

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