More than 3,000 Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers attended a stop-work meeting yesterday—the largest in more than a decade—at Sydney Town Hall. The action formed part of a 24-hour strike by the TAFE education sector’s 10,000-strong workforce across the Australian state of New South Wales. Teachers are opposing a new award being enforced by the state Labor government of Premier Kristina Keneally.
Opposition to Labor’s education reforms is mounting, but the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF) and Unions NSW are working to head off a direct political struggle against the state and federal Labor governments. The NSWTF is calling for a “negotiated settlement” with Premier Keneally, even as her government makes clear it will press ahead with a series of sweeping attacks across the TAFE and public school sectors.
Hundreds of students protested in Australia’s largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, on Wednesday to demand that international students be granted concession cards. At present international students are required to pay full fares on public transport—about twice as much as local students pay.
Students from Australia and overseas—about 200 in Melbourne and 300 in Sydney—rallied to demand an end to discrimination over access to public transport. That many international students participated was significant, because they are among the most vulnerable sections of the student body and subject to strict visa requirements relating to their study and work practices. If breached, these can result in deportation. Their attendance points to growing dissatisfaction and anger over their treatment as “cash cows” for the education industry.
In Melbourne the majority of students came from private colleges, such as the Hales, Gurkha, Holmes and Lonsdale institutes. Others attended from public universities, including the University of Melbourne. Students marched from the State Library—briefly blocking trams at the Bourke and Swanston streets intersection to hear speeches and chants—before arriving at the state parliament. In Sydney students from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, Macquarie and Newcastle universities gathered at the University of Technology in central Sydney before marching to state parliament, where officials and organisers delivered speeches.