Victoria, Australia Teachers Threaten to Strike on Valentine's Day

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 25, 2013 3:35 PM EST

Teachers in Australia's Victoria have threatened to go on strike on Valentine's Day if their demands remained unmet by the state government.

This, as the two parties meet for the first time this year on January 31 in a bid to resume talks over pay rise which has dragged lengthily now for two years.

"The Baillieu Government has dragged this dispute out for over two years by refusing to listen to the concerns of education staff, parents and the broader community," Meredith Peace, AEU Victorian branch president, said in a statement on Thursday.

"It's gone on far too long. We hope the government takes that opportunity to come to the table with a fair and reasonable offer, so that we can actually do a deal and then the dispute will be finished."

State teachers represented by the AEU have forwarded to the government their revised proposal, which called for a 4.2 per cent pay rise a year over three years. Submitted in November 2012, it has yet to get a reply from the Baillieu-led Victoria government.

The government's offer since the start of negotations remained unwavering at 2.5 per cent increase over three years, plus performance pay.

The Victorian teachers, which last staged a massive work stoppage in September 2012, would be joined by Catholic teachers on Valentine's Day should the labor threat push through.

Catholic teachers, led by the Independent Education Union, said they support their public school comrades since any rise in their pay structure is dependent on those received by the state teachers.

Essentially, private school teachers will not get a pay raise until the state teachers get theirs.

"We are hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved on 31 January, but the track record of this government so far has taught us not to hold our breath," Debra James, IEU General Secretary, said.

"It is insulting to our members to be starting the 2013 school year with no resolution to the stand-off, and a pay offer from the state government that devalues the work of all educators."

The state government has said it will file an injunction in the Federal Court if the teachers do not call off before January 29 their planned industrial action on Valentine's Day.

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