Schools close as Victorian teachers strike

Tens of thousands of Victorian public school teachers and support staff have gathered in Melbourne to protest over pay and conditions.

About 1,000 teachers were locked out of the rally at Melbourne Park because the venue was full.

The head of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union, Meredith Peace said about 30,000 teachers and support staff across the state had walked off the job.

It is the third mass strike in eight months, after talks with the Baillieu Government broke down again.

About 300 schools across the state have shut down for the day, or are operating with a skeleton staff.

The head of the Principals Association for Specialist Schools, and principal of the Ashwood School, Helen Hatherly, says teachers are dispirited.

"There are 84 specialist schools in Victoria and...

we're sick of working to the charity model," she said.

"We want to work as professionals just like all the other principals in Victoria.

"We want our families to be supported and we want our staff to be supported." Ms Peace apologised for any inconvenience caused by the strike but says teachers have had no option.

"We're left with no choice, we're dealing with a government that refuses to negotiate," she said.

"It's important for the government to understand the longer they let this dispute run, the harder it will get for them." The teachers formally condemned the government's approach to the negotiations and resolved to continue the campaign including half-day regional rolling stoppages from term two.

A motion for a 48 hour strike to coincide with the NAPLAN test in May was voted down, however the union has vowed to continue industrial action until the next state election.

More than 10,000 teachers marched to Parliament House after the rally.

The Minister Responsible for teaching, Peter Hall, says the strike is causing unnecessary disruptions.

"We are making progress and there is a will certainly from government and I think the unions to try and bridge that gap and try and reach a solution," he said.

Mr Hall says striking will not help.

"All I think it is doing is inconveniencing the education of about 550,000 and many families." The Government is offering a 2.5 per cent pay rise each year for three years, while the union is seeking 12.5 per cent over three years.

Teachers are refusing to participate in out of hours school activities including sport and school camps.

Last week the Government took the union to court to try and prevent the strike but the court ruled in the teachers' favour.

The union met with the State Government on Tuesday and expects to meet again next week.

The Government is offering a 2.5 per cent pay rise each year for three years while the union is seeking 12.5 per cent over three years.

Teachers are refusing to participate in out of hours school activities including sport and school camps.

Last week the Government took the union to court to try and prevent the strike but the court ruled in the teachers' favour.

Performance pay An education expert, Dr David Gurr, from the University of Melbourne, says the performance-based pay system being proposed is not in the best interests of students.

He says students are far better off when teachers work together.

"Around the world, there is no evidence that performance-based pay in education works," he said.

"In fact, given that teaching's becoming so much more team-based, it actually works against the very thing that most people in schools are trying to do and that's get teachers to work together."

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