TEACHERS from Echuca, Kerang and Swan Hill staged a protest this morning outside the office of Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh.
The noisy but peaceful protest of about 40 teachers was part of a half-day stopwork action in support of the Australian Education Union's campaign for a better deal for teachers.
As well as providing an update to members about the breakdown in negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement with the Victorian Government, AEU deputy vice-president James Rankin and local members presented a novelty letter to the Mr Walsh's office staff in his absence, urging Mr Walsh to ask the government to put up a reasonable offer.
Mr Rankin said the union had given up on trying to hold Premier Ted Baillieu to a pre-election promise that he would make Victorian teachers the best paid in Australia.
''A month ago we reassessed the salaries position to expect the equivalent to our colleagues interstate in NSW,'' he said.
''We are prepared to accept we wouldn't be the best paid, but they didn't respond to us.''
The union has reduced its pay claim to 12 per cent over three years but Mr Rankin said the Victorian Government had refused to budge on its initial offer of a 2.5 per cent per year, plus performance pay.
''It appears they have no strategy other than to do nothing,'' he told the crowd.
''We've been in formal negotiations for 18 months. We tried to break the deadlock with a revised position .. the government had not responded after four weeks so we decided to ramp up industrial action.''
As well as seeking a wage rise, teachers, principals and support staff are concerned about the impact of performance pay and short-term contracts on the quality of the education children would receive.
According to the AEU 18 per cent of teachers - 47 per cent of beginning teachers - and 45 per cent of education support staff were employed on short term contracts with reduced job security.
Current work bans include written comments in end-of-year report cards, refusing to allow Coalition MPs to visit schools, and not responding to emails from the education department.
Next year they are likely to also include bans on any work outside the standard 38-hour week, which could affect school camps and excursions, planning and assessment of school work.
A full day stoppage has been scheduled for February 14.
This week's stop work meetings at Geelong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Dandenong, Pakenham, Ballarat, Echuca and Swan Hill were the last in a series of rolling stoppages for this year.
At Ballarat, Mary Bluett addressed her last rally before she steps down as AEU president after 31 years as a union official.