Teachers and staff from across the Finniss electorate gathered outside of their local member's office as part of industrial action to express their frustrations over public education enterprise agreement negotiations.
A group of about 25 local Australian Education Union (AEU) members rallied outside Member for Finniss David Basham's office in Victor Harbor on Thursday, September 12, before Port Elliot Primary School's Vicki Lacey delivered a letter on behalf of the public educators from schools and preschools.
"We are here to express our frustration with the lack of respect shown by the Marshall state government to South Australian public educators in enterprise agreement negotiations," the letter, which was read out at the rally, said.
"A strong and vibrant public education system is the responsibility of the government, yet the state government is failing to fulfil its obligation to invest in public education, address spiralling workloads and the increasingly complex challenges faced in the classroom.
"In the meantime the government and the Department for Education thanklessly draw upon our goodwill."
The letter said the "days of goodwill are over", as the staff had lost confidence in the state government's treasurer to help resolve the dispute.
It asked Mr Basham to push for an intervention from the Minister for Education and "negotiate an agreement that recognises the vital role we play, not only in the education of South Australian students, but also in the social and economic success of South Australia".
The letter said those fighting for better working conditions would continue to do so until a "fair outcome" was agreed upon.
Australian Education Union (SA Branch) president Howard Spreadbury said further negotiations were required for support for school staff in regional and rural areas.
"Teachers and support staff often feel compelled to work even when unwell as there are few relief staff assigned to regional areas," he said.
Mr Basham told The Times that AEU members should have checked the Parliamentary sitting calendar before rallying at his office and other offices across the state.
"They would then have understood I could have been nowhere other than Parliament House on that day, as was also the case with Premier Steven Marshall at the Dunstan electorate office," he said.
He said he did not support a pay rise for educators higher than what is currently being offered by the state government, which is 2.35 per cent for teachers and 3.35pc for principals.
"My message for AEU members is to return to negotiations with the government, which is more than happy to discuss issues around resources and conditions," he said.
He acknowledged improvements in facilities and resources would be needed across the district, and welcomed those investments already made by the current Liberal government.
These included new STEM facilities at Mount Compass Area School and Victor Harbor High School, $8 million worth of capital works at Mount Compass Area School, and $5 million worth of capital works at Victor Harbor R-7 School.
"Continued investment in education infrastructure and resources will always be necessary in Finniss as the population continues to grow and our education needs continue to evolve, for example the transition of year seven students to high schools," Mr Basham said.