TAFE breakthrough

Terms for new Enterprise Agreement settled

Maurie Mulheron

On October 20 , TAFE NSW and the NSW Teachers Federation finally agreed on the terms of settlement for a new Enterprise Agreement to cover TAFE teachers and related employees.

The terms of settlement were communicated to all relevant employees on October 24 following their endorsement at the Federation State Council meeting on October 22. The terms of settlement are:

  • a 2.5 per cent salary increase each year
  • a duration of three years
  • all existing working conditions of employees to be maintained
  • no change to teaching hours
  • no change to related duties for part time casual teachers
  • the implementation of the three trial roles (Head Teacher Band 3, Assessor and Educational Support Officer) as classifications in the Enterprise Agreement
  • the establishment of a joint working party to develop a comprehensive future workforce capability framework.

TAFE and the Federation will finalise details of the proposed TAFE Commission of NSW Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement to reflect the above terms of settlement. Given that all existing conditions will be preserved in the new Agreement, this process should proceed quite swiftly.

Once drafted, the proposed Enterprise Agreement will be made available to all employees covered by the Agreement during a seven-day access period. After this time, the proposed Agreement will be voted on by these employees.

A simple majority is required to ratify the Agreement. Federation will be urging all TAFE teachers to vote in favour of the new Agreement.

The salary increase will be effective from the first full pay period on or after the date of a successful ballot.

The negotiations for a new Agreement have been frustrating and unnecessarily protracted. Federation first contacted TAFE in April 2015 seeking a new Agreement with negotiations lasting from July 2015 until October 2016.

Last month, Federation sought a protected action ballot order, which was granted by Fair Work. That ballot, which closed on October 21, was well supported, with a participation rate of 67 per cent of members of whom an average of 92 per cent supported industrial action if a negotiated settlement could not be reached.

The settlement terms achieved at the breakthrough meeting of October 20 meant that industrial action was avoided this time.

Once the Enterprise Agreement is ratified, Federation will continue its campaign against the contestable funding model which has had catastrophic consequences since it was introduced in April 2012. This market model has led to a collapse in the public’s trust of the vocational education and training sector due to the proliferation of dodgy “for-profit” private colleges and the crisis caused by the VET Fee-Help scheme.

There is now an urgency to ensure that the public TAFE system is promoted and protected and the level of public money handed to private colleges capped.

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