Around 210 Bega Valley and Eurobodalla teachers and principals gathered at Moruya Showground basketball stadium on Tuesday, December 7, as NSW teachers held their first 24-hour stoppage in a decade.
Educators across the state went on strike to bring attention to staff shortages, uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads under the guidance of the NSW Teacher's Federation.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the dispute was now in the hands of the Premier who had the power to prevent further industrial action.
NSW Teacher's Federation Country Organiser for the Queanbeyan office Waine Donovan attended the event in Moruya and said the mood was "palpable".
He said the move to have teachers from the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, and even some from the lower Shoalhaven Shires was strategic to have everyone in the same place at once.
"The feel in the Moryua basketball stadium was that they were glad that we had finally all come together to do something about the lack of teachers in our schools."
New Department of Education figures show that of the 44,500 permanent teaching positions in NSW public schools, 3038 were vacant in mid November.
Mr Donovan said the comments made by the Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell in an article published by the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, December 7, got members riled up at the Moruya rally.
In the article the Minister said, "[Teachers] deserve better representation than that of a union hell-bent on hanging students out to dry for political purposes".
Mr Donovan said the members in Moruya were very disappointed in the comments about the union.
"She said that the union hadn't brought anything to the table, that the students have had enough disruptions without teachers going out on strike, that the union doesn't want transparency in the profession and that they don't want people to be accountable," he said.
He said the members disagreed with the Minister's comments at the Moruya meet-up and that one of the members had suggested a move of no confidence in the Minister which was reportedly met with applause.
The Department of Education found that teachers' pay has been falling compared to other professions since the 1980s and the Gallop inquiry reviewed the state of the teaching profession in NSW public schools.
In line with recommendations made in the Gallop inquiry, the Teacher's Federation said that, "teachers and principals are seeking a salary increase of between 5 to 7.5 per cent a year to recognise the increase in their skills and expertise and begin to reverse the decline in teachers' wages compared to other professions."
They were also seeking an increase in preparation time of two hours a week.
The NSW Government have maintained a wages policy which caps any salary increase at a maximum of 2.5% a year. They have also rolled out $125 million strategy to create new pathways into a teaching careers.