Gympie teachers rally at the office of MP David Gibson yesterday.
Gympie teachers rally at the office of MP David Gibson yesterday. Renee Pilcher

Gympie teachers launch campaign

A BIG turnout of about 50 Gympie electorate teachers led the charge when they gathered outside Member for Gympie David Gibson's Channon St office about 4pm.

But that was only the beginning, the meeting of teachers was told.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates warned of possible industrial action comprising a campaign of rallies across all 89 Queensland Parliament electorates.

"Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions and they are not for sale," he said.

"This is the first of a series of rallies to be held throughout Queensland."

He said government negotiators had offered teachers a pay rise if they agreed to industrial conditions, including classroom sizes, being taken out of their negotiated agreement and made entirely a government policy issue.

"The government has to get the message that if they think they can get away with hurting kids, they're going to have to get through us first," he said.

That was the warning late yesterday from Mr Bates at a 50-strong rally of Gympie region teachers yesterday.

Mr Bates said teachers' working conditions were under threat from a State Government offer which included making things like classroom sizes no longer a matter for industrial negotiation.

It would mean the government would have all the say, in return for a pay rise.

"The government is saying 'Trust us' and we have a right to be concerned at that when they are so focused on dollars," he said.

"If you have more than 30 children in a classroom, there is no way you can meet individual needs in an hour," QTU Gympie president Alota Lima said during the meeting.

Yesterday's rally outside Mr Gibson's Channon St office was the start of a campaign to determine industrial action.

The state-wide campaign would involve the votes of about 39,000 teachers across Queensland.

Mr Bates said the union had been fighting under-investment in education for many years and knew how to win a campaign.

"It's our job as teachers to make sure of the best outcomes, the very best outcomes for all kids," Mr Bates said.

One teacher at the rally said physical conditions in schools were bad enough, with buildings almost falling down.

Another said classroom temperatures at her school were four degrees or less in Gympie yesterday morning.

Children could not be taught and many went outside because it was warmer in the open, she said.

Mr Gibson responded with a promise to take teachers' concerns directly to Premier Campbell Newman and Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek.

"I'm not here to bag the government, but I am here to represent my constituents and I promise I will raise your concerns in a letter and I'll give you a copy," Mr Gibson told the demonstration.

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