More than 1100 United Voice members braved the rain at Parliament House on Tuesday to make a stand against the Barnett Government’s massive cuts to education.
Education Minister Peter Collier has announced 500 Education Assistants are set to lose their jobs and 30 per cent of special program funding would be slashed.
Members ignored the rain and the cold to stand shoulder to shoulder and protest the unfair cuts.
United Voice delegate Kerry Banting was one of the Education Assistants who spoke to the rally.
“It was really inspiring seeing all of these people come together and support the cause,” she said.
“It’s such an important issue that everyone in the community needs to be aware of and fight for.
“We need to show Barnett and Collier that what they are doing is wrong.”
Minister Collier addressed the angry crowd and attempted to justify the Barnett Government’s cuts by stating that only staff on contracts would lose their jobs.
He and Premier Barnett have refused to back down over their decision.
Education Assistant Ben New also addressed the crowd and said he had mixed emotions after the experience.
“It was fantastic to see such a huge turnout,” he said.
“But it was so disappointing to hear Collier try and justify the Government’s actions.
“It wasn’t even a proper justification; it was a feeble attempt to win support for an unpopular and unnecessary decision.”
Federal Minister for Education Bill Shorten addressed the crowd praising members and warning of the severe consequences a Coalition Government could wreck on the already fragile West Australian education system.
"How dreadful is it that all of a sudden properly funding schools is a political football in Western Australia, where we see the Liberal Party cutting funds, cutting staff, cutting the future of children in Western Australian schools,” he said.
United Voice Branch Secretary Carolyn Smith said members were forced to resort to industrial action after Colin Barnett refused to listen to their reasoning.
“The Government’s stance on these cuts is simply not good enough,” she said.
“Education assistants do invaluable work in the classroom every single day yet the Premier cut their jobs to sort out his budget problems.
“Members deserve better. The children of WA deserve better.”
Ms. Smith has warned more industrial action would be considered if the Barnett Government refused to see reason.
A petition to be entered to the Legislative Assembly on behalf of members has already garnered more than 1100 signatures.