Teachers' Union members from Kempsey West Public School have walked off the job today (May 3) during a visit by the Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell.
The walkout comes ahead of Wednesday's state-wide industrial action calling on changes to their pay, high workloads and growing teacher shortages.
New South Wales Teachers Federation country organiser Ian Watson said teachers are angry and frustrated.
"It's a fundamental role of government to ensure that every classroom is staffed with an appropriately qualified teacher and that's just not the reality across the Mid North Coast," he said.
"When union members heard that the minister was visiting Kempsey West Public School and using it as a prop for an announcement, they made the decision to walk out."
Ms Mitchell attended Kempsey West Public School with Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey to announce a further 39 schools which will receive funding to install integrated air systems as part of the NSW Government's $500 million Cooler Classrooms Program.
When asked about the state-wide industrial action planned for Wednesday, Ms Mitchell said she is disappointed it's going ahead.
"I think the industrial action at the moment is pretty disappointing. We've made it clear that we want to support our teachers. We've been able to put in a two and a half per cent pay increase this year in line with the wages policy," she said.
"The premier has made it clear that we are looking at these issues as part of the budget.
"I urge the unions to just consider that the industrial action tomorrow is incredibly disruptive to families and to students and it's really not necessary. We want to negotiate and operate in good faith and we've done that from the very beginning."
Premier Dominic Perrottet said his government had been fair and reasonable throughout negotiations with multiple public sector unions undertaking industrial action.
The action was part of a political campaign to cause havoc across NSW for the benefit of the Labor Party, he said.
"We're working through this issue as part of the budget process," Mr Perrottet said.
"Allow the government to do it and don't disrupt our parents, and particularly our children."
The Premier has promised to address public sector wages in the budget but also acknowledged that may not be enough to appease the various unions and their frontline workers.
Mr Watson said Tuesday's announcement at Kempsey West Public School, ahead of the strike on Wednesday, was an attempt to distract from the industrial action and issues teachers are facing.
"The government is doing everything they can to distract from the core issues that they're failing to address, which is the teacher shortage," he said.
Ms Mitchell said visiting schools is part of her job as education minister and is how she is able to understand what is happening on the ground in NSW schools.
"We do not need to see a state-wide strike tomorrow. Our students and families have already had incredible levels of disruption over the past couple of years due to the pandemic and every day in the classroom matters," she said.
"It (the strike) will serve no purpose. There is no industrial outcome out of tomorrow and all it does is disrupt hard working parents."
Mr Watson said Mid North Coast teachers will participate in the industrial action at Coffs Harbour and Taree tomorrow (May 4).
"It's all well and good to have air conditioning and every classroom should be fully air conditioned, but it's a bit cute to say they're going to put in air conditioning but can't necessarily guarantee there will be a teacher in that classroom," Mr Watson said.
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