Teachers demanding respect

Andrew McKenzie-McHarg addresses a meeting of Catholic teachers.in Wodonga. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
Andrew McKenzie-McHarg addresses a meeting of Catholic teachers.in Wodonga. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

THEY joined the fight for better pay but Catholic College Wodonga teacher Kev Tyndall said it wasn’t about the money.

He said it was about respect.

Mr Tyndall was among almost 40 Independent Education Union members who rallied at Wodonga’s Cafe Grove yesterday, while an estimated 10,000 government teachers protested in Melbourne for better pay and conditions in the third state-wide strike since June last year.

Mr Tyndall, a teacher for 26 years, said he never considered crossing the Border in his 17 years at Catholic College, even though his wife, in a leadership role at Scots School Albury, earned significantly more money.

Statistics released by the Australian Education Union show that the most qualified Victorian teachers earn $84,059 a year, while their NSW counterparts earn $89,050 — a $4991 difference.

But it’s better news for graduates.

Teachers entering the profession in Victoria earn $56,984 in their first year, while those in NSW $46,310, the lowest entry level figure in Australia.

Mr Tyndall called the pay discrepancy between NSW and Victoria “very significant and unjust”.

“Victorian teachers are undervalued and in a place like Albury-Wodonga, that disparity is evident in our household,” he said.

“Victoria has got a very good education system and that’s why I choose to teach in Victoria, it’s just unfortunate our government doesn’t value teachers and the teaching profession.

“It’s about respect, and I just think teachers need to be valued to attract good-quality graduates to the profession.”

About 60 Catholic teachers from Wodonga took unprotected industrial action yesterday, which saw classes close at five North East Catholic schools.

North East government teachers travelled to Melboune’s Hisense arena and 34 Border government schools closed or ran limited classes.

Standing amid black signs reading “unprotected & undeterred” at Cafe Grove yesterday, Catholic College IEU representative Andrew McKenzie-McHarg said the school’s 55 members were concerned about taking industrial action.

“They were very hesitant, because their number one priority is the students ... They said they only wanted to take action if it would make a difference,” he said.

Mr McKenzie-McHarg said the action was about valuing education.

Bill Tilley’s office confirmed the member for Benambra received an invitation to the IEU meeting but had to decline due to other engagements.