Canberra teachers: cutting wages for capitalism
Canberra teachers have accepted a 6.1 pay increase over two years under a new deal with the Stanhope Labor Government. This is a defeat for teachers and the wider union movement in Canberra.
Headline inflation last quarter was 1.5 percent. Core inflation – the figure the Reserve Bank pays particular attention to – was 3.9 percent.
Any pay increase less than 4 percent is a real pay cut.
The pay rates mean that ACT teachers will fall further behind their New South Wales counterparts.
Canberra teachers used to be industrially strong and prepared to exercise their muscle. This time they have capitulated without a whisper of a fight.
82 percent voted for the agreement to make their profession less competitive and less monetarily rewarding.
They did so because the ALP Chief Minister and his left-wing Deputy both claimed the global financial crisis meant the Labor Government didn’t have enough money to pay real wage increases.
Teachers accepted the idea of wage restraint.
Compare this to recently retired heads of major Australian companies like Alan Moss from Macquarie Bank who got $30 million after 29 days work this financial year, or Geoff Dixon from Qantas who got $11 million for a few months work.
Both companies have lost incredible amounts of their market value under this leadership.
The people who caused the crisis get millions. We get a pittance.
The fact that the once strong education union in Canberra and its savvy members can accept that they have to bear the burden for the crisis of capitalism highlights the backwardness of the thinking of major sections of the working class in Australia today.
It will not always be so but socialists have to deal with and understand the reality on the ground now.
The timing of this pay cut is ironic.
Just as the capitalist economy in Australia appears to be recovering (a weak recovery insufficient to stop unemployment and underemployment increasing markedly) teachers have accepted the lies of the Labor Left and gone for a few scraps from the table rather than demanding that they join the feast.
The teachers’ wage deal will become the standard from which other public sector unions will bargain down.
The ACT Public Service is about to enter into negotiations with the Community and Public Sector Union over a new wages agreement for the 10,000 Canberra public servants.
Given the ‘lead’ teachers have shown them, it is likely that other Canberra workers will accept something much less than 3 percent.
And most workers will do so willingly, concerned about the crisis and its impact on their jobs.
Yet this local Labor Government has flagged future staff cuts to help balance the Budget, and, following John Howard and Kevin Rudd at the Federal level, efficiency dividends to cut programs and costs.
So wage cuts won’t save jobs.
Let’s join the fight for real wage increases and real job security. It’s their crisis, make them pay.