Victorian teachers to vote on Australian Education Union sell-out industrial agreement

Public school teachers and workers in Victoria begin voting Monday on a sell out industrial agreement negotiated by the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the state Labor government of Premier Daniel Andrews.

The deal only narrowly passed a vote through union delegates’ meetings held in March, with a record 40 percent “no” vote. The final vote to ratify the draft agreement, required under Australian industrial relations law, involves everyone covered by it, union and non-union members within the schools. Ballots will be collected next week, concluding on Friday.

CFPE member Will Marshall and teacher outside Sunshine AEU delegates meeting [Source: WSWS Media]

The Committee for Public Education, which has politically led the fight against the AEU’s betrayal, has called on all teachers and Education Support staff to vote “no” in the ballot.

This, however, is only a starting point. Whatever the result, the AEU bureaucracy will seek to push through a sell-out agreement, in line with its role as an industrial police force of the state Labor government.

The crucial issue is for teachers to take matters into their own hands through the formation of rank-and-file committees, independent of the unions, at all schools. Such committees are the only means of breaking the isolation of the AEU, uniting all education staff and preparing a genuine industrial and political fight against the agreement and the Labor government.

Teachers should turn out to other sections of workers, who face surging inflation, job cuts and increasingly intolerable conditions. Above all, the unending attacks on education and healthcare, raises the need for a socialist perspective, which rejects the subordination of every aspect of society to the profit interests of the major banks and corporations.

The AEU bureaucracy is clearly concerned about the threat that its deal with the state government will be voted down. From the very announcement of the agreement on March 21, the union orchestrated a concerted campaign to ram it through. This included systematic misinformation concerning the contents of the draft agreement, a propaganda barrage demanding a “yes” vote that flooded the schools, and the censorship of all opposition on the union’s social media outlets.

As soon as the delegates vote was announced, union president Meredith Peace wrote a letter to all members anti-democratically declaring that “every member must support the majority position taken by members and vote YES for the agreement in the ballot of all employees.”

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