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23 March, 2020

Teachers union threatens strike action

Teachers union threatens strike action

By Phil Brandel

The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) president Kevin Bates has called on the State Government to close schools by mid-week, saying they cannot rule out strike action if negotiations fail.

Mr Bates said the safety of teaching staff was being put at risk.

"Governments are talking about shutting down all of the businesses apart from essential services, and yet there's still talk about schools remaining open. Those two things are contradictory," Mr Bates said.

Mr Bates said he appreciated that medical advice suggested it was OK to keep schools open, but said that: "We can't see how the logic of that plays out."

"We don't accept that you have to have social distancing in terms of closing down parks and beaches and other things but you can have 3,000 students at a school and that is OK.

"What we are saying is, enough's enough."

Ms Palaszczuk urged teachers over the age of 60 or those with an underlying health condition to seek advice from their school principal about working from home.

But Mr Bates said teachers had lost faith in the "ad-hoc" approach.

"The words that we know have been used are 'sacrificial lamb', 'glorified babysitters' — that's how they're feeling," he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland state schools would remain open but said parents could keep children home if they wished.

"Parents have a choice — if they choose not to send their child to school, that can that make that choice," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"But schools will remain open.

"Also, we know that the school holidays are coming up in a couple of weeks' time. I want to send a clear message to people to stay in your state, and stay in your suburb. There are no school holidays. It is not about packing up the car and going to the beach for a picnic or going for a swim on the beach."

Dr Young said schools that recorded a positive case of COVID-19 would have to take their own circumstances into account when deciding whether to reopen.

"Every school has got different arrangements, so you can't just have one process," Dr Young said.

"Whether or not the school reopens is up to that school."


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