The privatisation of TAFE must end, NSW Labor and Greens MPs said at an event held in state parliament to mark National TAFE Day. Prue Car, NSW shadow minister for TAFE, condemned the decline of TAFE in NSW under Smart and Skilled and restated Labor’s commitment to cap contestable funding and guarantee 70 per cent of public funding went to TAFE.

Talks with Premier on TAFE’s future and salaries

Gary Zadkovich
Acting President

Federation Senior Officers met with Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Skills John Barilaro on August 3 to discuss the future of the NSW TAFE system.

The meeting canvassed the issues and challenges in the vocational education and training sector in a positive and productive manner. This included discussion of the need for settlement on a new Enterprise Agreement on TAFE teachers’ salaries and conditions.

Federation wrote to the Premier immediately after the meeting to reaffirm the union’s position on key matters (excerpts of the letter are given below).

Federation members in TAFE are commended for their unrelenting commitment and support for the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign, especially in light of the protracted negotiations to achieve a new salaries and conditions enterprise agreement. Members in the schools sector have been providing much-needed support and solidarity and are urged to continue to do so.

Time will tell if the meeting with the Premier signals a turning point for the better in the campaign to stop the dismantling of the widely respected but beleaguered NSW TAFE system.

One thing is certain: Federation will continue to fight with all available resources to secure a positive future for TAFE.

Letter from Federation to NSW Premier Mike Baird

“Federation Senior Officers appreciated your statements of support for maintaining a strong TAFE system into the future and your refutation of the view that the NSW Government is intent on privatising TAFE through the implementation of contestable funding policies.

Similarly, your acknowledgement of the gains being made in the NSW schools sector through your government’s commitment to the full six-year implementation of the NSW National Education Reform Agreement (the Gonski agreement) is welcomed …

In emphasising the degree to which the NSW Teachers Federation, the NSW Department of Education and the NSW Education Ministry are working positively together with the various professional organisations in the schools sector, Federation’s representatives expressed our union’s genuine commitment to developing and implementing a similar approach in TAFE NSW.

It was encouraging to hear you acknowledge that the One TAFE NSW reforms may be the process to draw the parties together in a collective endeavour to revitalise and strengthen the TAFE system.

As stated at the meeting, Federation believes the expeditious settlement of the Enterprise Agreement on the salaries and conditions for TAFE teachers and related employees would be an important and timely expression of goodwill on the employer’s part. It would signal an acknowledgement that a positive future for TAFE cannot be built without the commitment and hard work of its teacher workforce.

It would also help rebuild the morale of teachers who have continued to work in a system that has suffered cuts to courses, job losses, a drastic decline in student enrolments and a massive increase in student debt.”

Union awaits copy of One TAFE strategic plan

On July 12, at a media conference, the Skills Minister, John Barilaro, announced a “New Vision for TAFE NSW” to be known as One TAFE.

While Federation was made aware of the impending announcement, the union is still waiting, at the time of writing, for a copy of the strategic plan.

A request for a copy has been made to the TAFE Managing Director, Jon Black.

Until a copy of the plan has been provided to Federation, the union is unable to provide members with a detailed analysis of proposals included in the One TAFE plan.

From an initial reading of the Minister’s July document, A Vision for TAFE NSW, and after discussions with the Managing Director, Federation Officers have expressed cautious optimism regarding this latest proposal.

Federation has always asserted there is one TAFE system across NSW and that the creation of 10 “autonomous” institutes, with the subsequent duplication of essential administration and management, was inefficient and not in the best interests of TAFE students.

Federation will pursue the release of the strategic plan with the Managing Director and provide subsequent advice to members.