Photo by AAP

Teachers pressured to strike

A NUMBER of Rose City teachers have slammed the Queensland Teachers' Union-led 24-hour strike, saying the union used bullying tactics to force teachers to join their state-wide action.

A government teacher from the Warwick area, who did not wish to be named, said she “felt pressured” by the Queensland Teachers' Union (QTU) into taking part in the strike.

“I didn't really agree with it - doesn't everyone want a pay rise?” she asked.

“(Union members) went to a meeting and were told if the union instructed us to strike then you must follow otherwise you may not get backing (from the union) later on.”

She said she could understand why the QTU sought the rise in teachers' salaries and saw the potential benefits for the education system but questioned the timing.

“Obviously if you give all the teachers a pay rise, that can potentially attract others to the industry,” she said.

“But during the economic crisis, the timing could have been better.

“In the end I don't think it's fair on the kids - with all their teachers off for the day it's a big disadvantage to their learning.”

A former Education Queensland teacher from Warwick now working in the independent sector said if teachers “really loved the kids” they should be thankful for their current sufficient wage and should “stop whinging”.

Speaking about the government's 12.5 per cent pay rise offer over three years, which the QTU has rejected, the Rose City teacher was at a loss as to why the union felt the rise was inadequate.

“It's more than enough - it's more than inflation,” the teacher, who did not want to be named, said.

“Teachers get plenty of other perks like paid maternity leave not available in other industries.

“The fact is in three years time we will have graduates coming straight out of uni with no experience earning about $55,000.

“(Graduates) really are walking into schools given full responsibility of these kids' educations on $55k... they're not doing more work for this extra money, so what are they doing?”

She said instead of extra government money going directly into educators' pockets, the funds should be distributed more wisely.

“The money is ill-spent on wages... the money should be put into extra resources and extra teachers to reduce class numbers.”

In regards to teachers feeling pressured by the union into taking strike action, she said she was not surprised.

More than 3000 teachers picketed parliament house yesterday, warning the strike was just the beginning in their fight to achieve pay parity with teachers in other states.

QTU South Queensland organiser Kevin Bates responded to the claims union members were bullying teachers into taking action.

“We can't help what other people feel,” Mr Bates told the Daily News yesterday.

“We have conducted ourselves in a professional and ethical way and we now have 1400 teachers across southern Queensland who attended the meetings on their own free will - that's a good indication members willingly participated in the strike action.

“To be perfectly frank we certainly would not take any action against union members who chose not to strike.”

- Additional reporting by Sandhya Shetty

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