Thousands of teachers have overrun a small group of anti-vaxxers trying to hijack their protest in Sydney in one of the largest rallies seen since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
Nearly 400 state schools across NSW are closed while others remain open with a skeleton staff supervising students as teachers and principals walk off the job on Tuesday to strike over pay and conditions.
In scenes reminiscent of the industrial turmoil of the 1980s, thousands of teachers from Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains gathered in Hyde Park and began marching to NSW Parliament.
A small group of anti-vaxxers protesting jab mandates and Covid lockdowns booed at the red-shirted teachers and yelled ‘shame on you’, but were quickly overrun by the large crowds.
Meanwhile, 9 News reporter Liz Daniels found herself in trouble after attending the protests wearing a white blouse – only to discover white shirts were being worn as a uniform to mark anti-vaxxers in the crowds.
‘Rocked up to cover the teachers rally in a crisp white blouse, only to realise this is the ‘symbol’ to indicate the anti-vaxxers in the crowd,’ she admitted.
‘Want to declare now I am double-dosed… just here for the news.’
Reporter Liz Daniels went down to cover the Sydney teacher protest in a white blouse only to discover white shirts were being worn as a uniform to mark anti-vaxxers in the crowd
Thousands of teachers across New South Wales went on strike on Tuesday to protest unsustainable workloads for uncompetitive pay
The protesting teachers wore red to march to Parliament House in Sydney on Tuesday
Anti-vaxxers arrived to protests in white shirts to steal the spotlight from protesting teachers
Thousands of school staff from Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains rallied in Sydney
Teachers claim staff shortages have increased workloads with little incentive to match, resulting in thousands marching through Sydney in protest.
‘Today’s disruption will pale into insignificance when the teacher shortages get worse and there’s not a teacher in front of your child’s classroom,’ NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos told the ABC.
‘The cost of not acting now and forcing the government to take note and do what needs to be done will be far greater.’
Teachers want a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to reverse the decline in teachers’ wages compared to other professions.
Teachers want a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to reverse the decline in teachers’ wages compared to other professions
Police supervise as thousands of school staff attended a march to protest poor working conditions on Tuesday
Anti-vaxxers in white shirts unsuccessfully tried to steal the show from protesting teachers in red shirts
The More Than Thanks campaign is working with protesting teachers to advocate for better working conditions
More Than Thanks claim teachers are working 55 hour weeks with one in eight teachers leaving within 6 years because of the pay and workload pressures involved in the profession
Tuesday’s teacher protests saw thousands of teachers from all over NSW gather and march to Parliament House in Sydney
Mr Gavrielatos said the government was also lacking a coherent strategy to fill 3000 vacant positions and recruit 11,000 teachers the state needs in the next decade.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell says teachers have been offered a 2.5 per cent wage increase, the maximum possible under public sector wages policy, and the government wants to work collaboratively with the union addressing teacher shortages.
‘We seem to hit a brick wall every time we try to talk about these matters,’ she told the Nine Network on Tuesday.
‘Children have had a tough year already and parents have been disrupted by COVID and we need to be in the classroom. I am disappointed that they have taken this approach.’
The More Than Thanks campaign is working with protesting teachers to advocate for better working conditions.
They claim teachers are working 55 hour weeks with one in eight teachers leaving within 6 years because of the pay and workload pressures involved in the profession.
A small crowd of anti-vaxxers complaining about vaccine mandates tried to hijack the teachers’ protest
Teachers marching for better working conditions avoid conflict with anti-vaxxers protesting mandates as police intervene
The group – who all wore white – began booing the red-shirted teachers as they marched, yelling ‘shame on you’
Anti-vaxxers yelled at protesting teachers as they marches through Sydney
Train and bus services across Sydney and train services to the Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains and Central Coast are also being disrupted by industrial action, with 75 per cent of trains not running.
NSW TrainLink CEO Dale Merrick told Nine workers’ refusal to run foreign-made trains on Tuesday was having ‘significant impacts’.
On Monday bus drivers in the inner west went on strike, with unions calling on the state government to demand its contractor Transit Systems negotiate over a two-tier wage system that has some workers earning less than others for doing the same job.
That industrial action continues on Tuesday with around 300 drivers from Sydney’s southwest striking, before drivers from both regions stop work for two hours on Friday afternoon.
Train and bus services across Sydney are also being disrupted by industrial action – causing massive delays for commuters
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the strikes were disappointing after more than 40 meetings between the union and officials
Sydney commuters forced to ‘cram’ into overflowing carriages as worker strikes run just 25 per cent of usual trains
Bus commuters looking for alternative transport will be short of options, with train drivers refusing to operate the foreign-made trains that run about three quarters of the services.
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the strikes were disappointing after more than 40 meetings between Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and the union, however the union says the leaders they want to negotiate with have only just started coming to the table.
The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene levels while not relying on contractors to provide it.
Mr Longland said employees had been offered a 2.5 per cent pay increase, inclusive of superannuation.
Transport for NSW said Tuesday’s strikes meant services would run to a reduced frequency on most lines, make additional station stops and take longer to reach their destination.
The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene levels while not relying on contractors to provide it
Bus drivers in the inner west on strike over a two-tier wage system that has some workers earning less than others for doing the same job