NSW residents have been warned to brace for more industrial action after thousands of public school teachers and transport workers walked off the job in a bid to improve pay and conditions.
For the first time in nearly a decade, thousands of striking teachers converged on NSW Parliament on Tuesday, calling on the government to address heavy workloads, uncompetitive salaries and staff shortages.
Many wore red t-shirts and carried placards supporting the NSW Teachers Federation, which organised the action that closed almost 400 state schools for 24 hours.
The union wants a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to reverse what it says it a decline in teachers' wages compared to other professions.
Union president Angelo Gavrielatos thanked protesters.
"Not for your attendance here today but rather for what you do every day, for your public service, what you do for the kids in your classroom ... I thank you, I salute you," he said.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she was disappointed at the disruption, taking aim at the union and saying teachers had been offered a 2.5 per cent wage increase, the maximum the government can offer under its public sector wages policy.
Pay negotiations with teachers were ongoing and keeping students in the classroom was key after a disrupted year, Ms Mitchell said.
"It's pitting teachers, families, and students against each other and ... it's incredibly frustrating that the union has decided to take this approach."
The industrial upheaval coincided with a campaign by metropolitan bus and train drivers that hit Sydney's transport network as well as train services to the Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains and Central Coast.
Bus drivers in Sydney's inner west continued a strike from Monday and were joined by drivers from Sydney's southwest, demanding government contractor Transit Systems negotiate over what workers say is an unfair two-tier wage system.
Transport Workers Union NSW secretary Richard Olsen said bus drivers had been labouring under an inferior enterprise agreement.
"That (agreement) has been out of its nominal term for well over six months yet the company is still not prepared to meet," Mr Olsen said.
At the same time, train drivers refused to operate foreign-made trains that run three-quarters of the services on the Sydney network, resulting in fewer services and trains making additional station stops.
On the trains' front, unions wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene levels while not relying on contractors to provide it.
"A heavily reduced train service will continue to operate on the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink Intercity network for the remainder of today, due to industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union," Transport for NSW said in a statement.
Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said further industrial action was likely across the state due to stalled industrial negotiations.
"There will be unless the government takes ... responsibility. We could have an unsettled period," Mr Morey told ABC TV.
"These matters have been going on for a number of months now but the blame can be firmly laid at the feet of Premier Dominic Perrottet and Matt Keane, the treasurer."
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns urged the government to do more to resolve the industrial upheaval.
"The emphasis here should not be on throwing mud, it should be on trying to fix this complicated situation."
Australian Associated Press
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