Public school teachers from the Mid North Coast have joined a call for action on salaries, workloads and growing teacher shortages.
A regional rally at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday, December 7, attracted a crowd of close to 1500 including teachers from the Camden Haven, Hastings and Macleay.
The rally coincided with a 24-hour statewide teachers strike as the NSW Teachers Federation escalated its salaries and conditions campaign.
Teachers say their salaries haven't kept pace with comparable professions and they do more work than ever at a time when more than 3000 permanent teaching positions across the state remain unfilled.
NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Ian Watson said the main message was the impact of the workforce shortage and the disruptions caused to students' learning.
"The message that was sent by the teachers is that the students are missing out because there are just not enough teachers to ensure that every student, on any given day, is being taught by an appropriately qualified teacher," he said.
The NSW Teachers Federation is calling for a reset of the system.
Mr Watson said not enough teachers were being recruited and that was coupled with more and more teachers leaving the system because their workload had increased and salaries were uncompetitive.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell condemned the strike action.
She said students across NSW had been through enough this year and they needed every single day in the classroom.
Ms Mitchell said one of the federation's main claims was around workload but they hadn't once come to the table with a solution or suggestions to address the issue.
She said the government was engaging directly with staff through the Quality Time initiative to understand where and how it could improve their workload.
Ms Mitchell cited policy initiatives to attract people to the profession and retain teachers in the system.
She said the union had refused to negotiate or engage in an award negotiation for teachers and the government was applying to increase pay for teachers by the maximum amount so staff did not miss out this January.
But Mr Watson said they were calling on the Premier to intervene to provide the flexibility needed around salaries to address the teacher shortage.
He said the NSW Teachers Federation had been very clear for 12 months in calling for an additional two hours a week release from face to face teaching for all teachers.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the dispute was now in the hands of the Premier who had the power to prevent further industrial action.
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