1999 was a big year for Deniliquin, it was the last year of the 20th Century and the town was entering a new era with the Ute Muster getting underway that year but there was more going on that year than most would remember.
That year the Carr Government was battling Teachers over an award system that the Government thought was good and the Teachers represented by the Teachers Federation thought was bad.
Negotiations were going on for fifteen months over pay increases, working hours, minimum salary for first year Teachers and other conditions and tension was in the air.
Schools originally had a couple of half days as teachers were in meetings discussing the latest in the negotiations.
Schools were still open for those days with a minimum of staff in place to watch students but classes were reduced to playing board games and watching a movie time as many of the out of town junior students had no option but to take the bus and go in early.
Students were not really bothered by these days as students preferred those sorts of days anyway compared to working on English and Maths all the time.
The dragging on of negotiations were heavily debated in NSW Parliament with the discussion on November 16 currently being available online with the majority of political parties supporting the Teachers Federation.
On November 17 1999, a full day strike was in force, Deniliquin’s school buses still ran and some staff were at schools with Deni High having a student attendance of two (true story) whilst many others took the bus to the High School and went to enjoy a day in town before boarding the buses back in the afternoon.
The two students were there because one was made to go and the other one was a good pal and kept him company on the understanding that their other friends would be there too (they didn’t turn up).
As history shows, a deal was eventually hammered out between Government and Teachers and school returned to normal as the 1999 school year winded up just over a month later.