TAFE pay action sought

Kerri Carr

Federation is seeking a protected action ballot order from Fair Work Australia to give TAFE teachers and related employees who have been without a pay rise since January 2015 the opportunity to take industrial action.

“Expeditious settlement of a new Agreement would be an important and timely expression of goodwill on the employer’s part to its teaching workforce,” Federation General Secretary John Dixon wrote in a letter to Mr Barilaro on September 5.

“As stated at the meeting with you and the Premier [held August 3] an early resolution of the Agreement would help rebuild the morale of teachers who continue to work in a system that has suffered significant cuts to courses, faced job losses, a drastic decline in student enrolments and massive student debt,” the letter continues.

“It is in the interest of the government, TAFE NSW and the Federation that an agreed position for a new Agreement is put to TAFE teachers without further delay.”

At the time of writing, Federation had not received a response from the Minister.

In support of a new agreement Federation has offered to include the positions previously under trial and identified under the current agreement as well as the implementation of a more flexible college year. In return, Federation is calling on TAFE NSW to grant the 2.5 per cent annum salary increases due to members without any “employee-related savings”, consistent with the NSW government’s own wages policy.

Earlier this year, TAFE teachers and related employees overwhelmingly rejected a TAFE NSW proposal containing the most significant attack on their working conditions in decades and the undermining of the quality of TAFE educational delivery.

Ninety one per cent of ballots cast were “no” votes, necessitating TAFE NSW to return to the negotiating table. TAFE NSW called for the ballot after it unilaterally terminated bargaining for a new agreement.

The current agreement concluded on June 30, 2015.

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Tinkering is not enough to fix the training sector

'ONE TAFE' PAPER IN BROADBRUSH

Federation Officers met TAFE Managing Director Jon Black and other TAFE managers on September 6 to be briefed on the “TAFE NSW Strategic Plan 2016-22: Modernising TAFE NSW”. Federation was advised this document was still in draft form as it had only left the Minister’s office that morning.

Federation noted the document was a series of broad statements with little detail and has requested a copy of the implementation plan. The TAFE Managing Director has agreed this will be forwarded to Federation once the document is finalised.

Federation is aware the Managing Director is visiting TAFE worksites to discuss the One TAFE NSW Vision and the effects it might or might not have on TAFE teachers and students.

It is hoped that TAFE teachers will be able to receive answers to any questions they have on the rollout of the “Modernising TAFE NSW — One TAFE" but if this is not the case teachers could call a branch meeting at their workplace to notify Federation of concerns or issues.

Until the union sees the finalised implementation plan, Federation is not in a position to make a detailed comment on One TAFE. The union has been quoted in various media that Federation is not opposed to a centralised TAFE system. In fact, Federation was opposed to the move to 10 Institutes when this was originally implemented.

It is Federation’s view that TAFE NSW should first resolve the outstanding TAFE teachers and related employees Enterprise Agreement and pay teachers the increased salary long overdue under the state wages policy before moving to further implement the TAFE NSW Strategic Plan.

-Maxine Sharkey, Deputy Secretary