Teachers, firefighters, nurses and other public sector staff have protested over pay in Hobart.Angry public sector workers in Tasmania who claim they’re among the worst paid in the country say more strikes are coming in their fight for better pay.
Teachers, firefighters, nurses and other public sector staff walked off the job across the island state on Wednesday afternoon.
They were among thousands rallying on the lawns of Hobart’s parliament house, calling on the state Liberal government to better their offer of a two per cent per year wage increase.
n Education Union state manager Roz Madsen said teachers were overworked, underpaid and leaving the job.
“We’re sick of being disrespected,” she told the rally.
“This is not the end of it – there are more work bans coming next week.”
The industrial action forced the education department to close 65 schools early.
Amid cries of ‘scrap the cap’ were calls to turf Premier Will Hodgman and his government.
“You haven’t yet experienced how tough we are and how much fight there is in us”, Tim Jacobson, Health and Community Services Union state secretary, said.
Taroona High School teacher David Genford said teachers were working long hours.
“A two per cent wage increase keeps us the lowest paid in the country,” he said.
The two per cent public sector wage cap has been in place since 2011 and the government isn’t budging.
Unions say it doesn’t keep up with the cost of living.
“What we are offering is consistent with other jurisdictions,” Mr Hodgman told reporters in Burnie before the strike.
Opposition leader Rebecca White and Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor joined the rally on parliament lawns.
Several hundred protested at Launceston and Burnie in the north of the state.
The mass stop-work follows recent industrial action by nurses over bed block at the state’s major hospitals.
“When you arrive at work you can feel the tension at the ward,” Royal Hobart Hospital nurse Camilla Harvey told the protest.
“The government needs to recognise our hard work and our emotional toll by paying us fairly.”
The strikes follow -wide protests on Tuesday by an estimated 150,000 workers calling for improved pay.