HUNDREDS of chanting public school teachers from across Maroondah and the Yarra Ranges have descended on a state Liberal MP’s office in Ringwood.
In a half-day strike action, teachers and educational support staff had come from as far as Mt Evelyn to meet at Ryan Smith’s electoral office.
Wearing red T-shirts and waving placards they shouted protests against pay and working conditions offered to them in negotiations with the Baillieu government.
President-elect of the Australian Education Union Victorian branch, Meredith Peace, addressed the crowd from the steps of a ladder and led them in chants of ‘‘one term Ted, one term Ted’’.
The slogan comes as an opinion poll published in today’s Australian newspaper indicate Premier Baillieu’s government is on track to lose the next election. Ms Peace said the strike action was about public education and the quality of education teachers can provide to their students.
‘‘If the government wants to keep taking us on, we will keep fighting because at the very heart of this matter is not only your jobs, your careers, your working conditions but the students that you teach,’’ she said.
The AEU has organised rolling work stoppages throughout Victoria during the final months of this year and has flagged a 38 hour a week campaign for next year which will include teachers ceasing all activities outside classroom hours.
Appearing at a her first union rally, Terri Hammill, a science laboratory technician from Heathmont College, said the government was stripping funding from public schools when they needed to be investing it.
‘‘We’re losing far too many good teachers to other industries because there’s nothing to keep them here,’’ she said.
AEU vice-president Justin Mullaly said it was clear negotiations with the government were not going anywhere.
‘‘Certainly we’re looking for the government to invest in schools and invest in school staff properly so that schools have the resources to ensure that kids get the best education they possibly can,’’ he said.