Update: Hundreds of education assistants braved wet weather today to attend a rally at Parliament House to protest against job cuts.
Wielding umbrellas or wearing orange plastic ponchos, they waved placards and chanted “shame, shame,” when told 350 assistants would lose their jobs.
United Voice union secretary Carolyn Smith estimated about 1500 people turned out to hear Federal Education Minister Bill Shorten and State Education Minister Peter Collier address the rally.
Mr Shorten told the education assistants what an important role they played in children’s lives.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan told the crowd the Barnett Government was cutting much-needed support for schools.
“This is not a reform,” he said. “It’s a cut.”
Mr Collier, who could barely make himself heard over booing and cries of “liar”, said he valued the role education assistants played in classrooms but the Government would not change its position.
Ms Smith told the rally that it was just the beginning of a long campaign that would go “for as long as it takes”.
She said members would continue to get their message out at the front gate of every school and at every school fete.
Education assistant Sandy McCann, who attended the rally with colleagues from Balga Primary School, said she was impressed that so many people turned out in such wet conditions.
“But it was too important a cause not to,” she said.
Mr Shorten said that if the Coalition won the Federal election on Saturday it would allow the Barnett Government to “keep taking money out the back door”.
“The problem with that is children in WA stand to gain nothing by the election of an Abbott Government,” he said.
School teachers, principals and parents are expected to attend a second rally here at 4pm today.
Mr Shorten attended the rally to warn about school funding if Tony Abbott becomes prime minister.
The SSTU has warned the Liberal State Government that teachers and principals will walk off the job on Friday unless it drops the plan.
Mr Shorten says the WA Liberals have given Australians a sneak peak of what will happen to school funding if the federal coalition wins Saturday's election.
"After all, Mr Abbott has said the WA Government is the 'kind of government' he wants to run in Canberra," the Minister said today.
"Mr Abbott has already foreshadowed his plans to copy Colin Barnett's education policy and turn more than 1,500 public schools into independent schools by 2017."
The Premier has also flagged school amalgamations and closures.
"These are the harsh cuts to education that Mr Barnett promised not to make before the WA State election," Mr Shorten said.
United Voice WA assistant secretary Carolyn Smith says industrial action is a last resort, but the education system has reached crisis point and members are angry.
Mr Collier isn't surprised by the reaction.
"Of course, when you have changes such as these, they cause a degree of anxiety and unrest," he told ABC radio.But he said the education budget in WA was higher now than before the Liberals came into power, and the funding model needed an overhaul because it was "complex, unwieldy and doesn't necessarily provide for the best educational outcomes".