Teachers defy orders to strike
UPDATE 5pm: PUBLIC school teachers across NSW have voted unanimously to launch the biggest "grass roots education campaign" in the state's history.
At least 13,000 teachers defied orders not to take part in a state-wide protest against the State Government's planned education overhaul.
The Teachers Federation has called on Premier Barry O'Farrell and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to sign a legally-binding contract drafted by the union which guarantees the protection of teacher transfers, class sizes and wages.
Sydney's Town Hall was at capacity and hundreds more lined the square outside to watch the live broadcast which always went out to 30 regional sites.
At the end of the rally, members voted for union bosses to take the campaign to the next level.
Teachers federation president said that would include an aggressive advertising campaign and further industrial action.
The union and Mr Piccoli have accused each other of deceiving the public about the state government's new Local Schools, Local Decisions policy set to be implemented at the end of term 3.
Speaking to the 7000-strong crowd in Sydney, Teachers' Federation deputy president Gary Zadkovich said the overhaul was a "smoke screen" for job cuts and the "biggest political deceit going around today".
He said the state government would roll out the cuts and then expect teachers to "do the dirty work of explaining to parents why their children's needs aren't being met".
Mr Piccoli said federation chiefs deliberately mislead its membership because they knew the changes would limit the union's power.
He said the changes were about cutting red tape, not sacking teachers, cutting their pay or increasing class sizes.
He vowed to push for industrial relations penalties to be imposed on those who took part in the illegal strike and thanked the teachers who chose to stay at work.
2.20pm: THOUSANDS of NSW teachers today defied orders not to take part in the biggest education strike in the state's history.
Dressed in red shirts bearing the slogan "fighting for public education" teachers travelled to the state's capital to protest the State Government's planned education overhaul.
Sydney's Town Hall was at capacity and hundreds more have lined square outside to hear from union chiefs on an outdoor screen.
The speeches were broadcast to 50 other protest sites throughout regional NSW.
Teachers' Federation President Maurie Mulheron called on Premier Barry O'Farrell and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to sign the Putting Students First charter which called for a guarantee that class sizes would not be increased, the award system would remain the same and jobs would not be cut during the coalition's first term of government.
Mr Mulheron said none of the requests on the charter were unreasonable and called on the state government to begin "immediate negotiations" with the union.
"We will not be bulled, we will not be silenced, we will not go away." Mr Mulheron said
"There is too much a stake".
Mr Piccoli vowed to push for penalties to be imposed on those who took part in the illegal strike.
He said Teachers' Federation opposed only the overhaul because it would take power away from the unions.