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NT teachers to strike over wages

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Hundreds of teachers in the Northern Territory will walk off the job over the public sector’s four-year pay freeze.

The industrial action, scheduled for next Friday, a day before the by-election for former chief minister Michael Gunner’s seat of Fannie Bay, is timed to send a strong message to the territory’s Labor government.

“It is essential we offer a salary and conditions that are equivalent to other jurisdictions in order to recruit and retain teachers in the territory,” Adam Lampe, Australian Education Union NT branch secretary, said on Friday.

Mr Lampe called on the Fyles’ government to make a decent pay offer, saying teachers were struggling with the skyrocketing cost of living.

“We understand the fiscal environment but we need to have at least a pay increase to alleviate some of the pain,” he said.

Territory schools have found it increasingly difficult to retain and attract staff amid the national teacher shortage due to higher salaries being offered in some southern states and the often difficult nature of teaching in the NT.

Mr Lampe said 75 per cent of all public schools in the territory were suffering from a teacher shortage, with fears some remote classrooms could be closed in the coming months.

“It is getting worse and the government needs to do something to stem the tide. Ultimately the people who are suffering are the kids,” he said.

“Public education is an investment in the future. It is a public good, why is the government refusing to spend money on it?”

The strike threat comes as federal, state and territory education ministers meet in Canberra on Friday to discuss the national teacher shortage and resulting education crisis.

The protected four-hour strike for Darwin and Palmerston teachers is scheduled to begin next Friday at 9am in front of Mr Gunner’s electorate office.

The Fannie Bay by-election will be held on August 20.

The NT government’s four-year public sector pay freeze for more than 20,000 public servants was introduced in November 2020 in a bid to save more than $400 million amid ongoing territory government deficits and climbing debt levels.

It was accepted by 57 per cent of employees.

– AAP

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