Legal move launched over teacher strike threat

Legal move launched over teacher strike threat

The Baillieu government has launched legal action against teachers' industrial action despite being in the middle of negotiations.

A spokesman for Finance Minister Robert Clark said proceedings had commenced in the Federal Court seeking an injunction against the proposed strike on 14 February and work bans that placed school camps, excursions, school fetes and sporting activities at risk.

The government will also seek a ruling that a range of items in the unions' log of claims cannot be included in an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, thus rendering unlawful any industrial action in support of those claims.

The spokesman said the legal action followed the failure of the Australian Education Union and the Community and Public Sector Union to call off their industrial action despite being given ample warning of the government's intentions to issue legal proceedings.

"The Victorian government considers the proposed industrial action is unlawful under the Fair Work Act and would continue the AEU's unjustifiable disruption of children's education and the work arrangements of families and their employers," the spokesman said.

"The planned actions have already begun to impact detrimentally on camp operators."


He said Education Department negotiators would continue to hold meetings with the Australian Education Union this week.

State president Meredith Peace said the union was extremely disappointed the State Government had launched legal action on the same day they began intense negotiations to try to resolve the dispute.

"Neither the AEU nor their lawyers had been notified that the Baillieu Government had commenced legal actions, and were made aware of the proceedings by the media," Ms Peace said.

"This behaviour raises serious questions about the Baillieu Government's willingness and ability to reach agreement with Victoria's public school staff."

The union is seeking a 12.6 per cent pay rise over three years and a reduction in contract employment.

It had originally sought a 30 per cent pay rise over three years consistent with the Coalition's pre-election promise to make Victorian teachers the highest paid in the nation.

The Victorian government has claimed a 12.6 per cent payrise over three years would cost Victorian taxpayers $13 billion but has refused to reveal how it calculated this figure.

The legal action comes just hours after Education Minister Martin Dixon told reporters on Monday morning that the state government had scheduled meetings with the union on three days this week.

"We have three days of talks this week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and that is a positive sign," Mr Dixon said.

With Deborah Gough

Jewel Topsfield

Jewel Topsfield is the national correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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