TAFE teacher salaries, conditions under attack

Federation members in all educational settings should heed what is happening in the sector

Maurie Mulheron

Federation has met several times with TAFE NSW to negotiate a new enterprise agreement

TAFE NSW's proposed new enterprise agreement attacks the working conditions of all teachers and the quality of education and training for all students.

TAFE NSW “full proposal” for a new enterprise agreement states that the employer wants to “better meet the needs of our students, who want education and training delivered anywhere, anytime”.

This requirement to teach “anywhere, anytime” shows the employer’s contempt for the rights and working conditions of TAFE teachers.

For an offer of 2.5 per cent per annum increase over two years, the employer proposes to:

Increase annual teaching hours from 720 to 820
This shows an appalling disregard for the commitment, professional expertise and workload required to deliver quality education and training to students.

Increase annual teaching weeks from 36 to 41
This would abolish the five non-teaching weeks required to establish and maintain the delivery of quality education and training for students.

Eliminate the five hours offsite ‘administrative arrangements’
This means teachers would work a 35-hour week on site. This would tear up the agreement fought for and won by our union in 2009 that provides for teachers and head teachers to undertake the additional five hours of related duties offsite.

Eliminate paid related duties for part time casual teachers
This entitlement was fought for and won by our union in 2005. This proposal would return part time casual teachers to the time when they were paid only for face-to-face teaching, without payment for all the work required to prepare, deliver and assess coursework. There is to be no payment for EBS or time spent gathering evidence of compliance.

Replace teachers with trainers
Rejected by our union in 2013, this is another attempt to replace higher-cost, proven quality, qualified teachers with lower cost, lower-qualified trainers. Despite saying “this is not a race to the bottom”, the employer proposes to replicate what low-quality, for-profit private training companies do: maximise profits and reduce the quality of education and training. This proposal also pre-empts the jointly commissioned independent research and evaluation of the trial of the new roles of Head Teacher Band 3, Assessor and Education Support Officer. The evaluation report on these roles is not due to be presented to the Joint Management Committee until the end of October.

Copy the interstate attacks on TAFE teacher jobs, salaries and working conditions
The employer seeks to cut TAFE teacher jobs, salaries and working conditions as has occurred in Victoria and South Australia, which has worsened the decline of TAFE in those states. This has contributed to the loss of TAFE course delivery, as shown in the Appendix of the TAFE NSW proposal. This is part of the problem, not the solution!

Members are assured that the AEU NSW Teachers Federation will continue to negotiate in good faith, regardless of the contempt for teachers and quality education and training that is evident in the proposal tabled by TAFE NSW. The union will continue to oppose any downgrading of teaching quality, qualifications and working conditions.

The attacks in the TAFE NSW proposal will be opposed at the bargaining table and if necessary, by all available industrial, legal and political means.

These cuts are proposed for an already beleaguered TAFE system that has been ravaged by contestable funding policies, the loss of 2500 teaching and support positions, cuts to courses and massive increases in student fees.

Federation members in all educational settings should heed what is happening in TAFE and support the campaign to defend TAFE colleagues and their students from these continuing attacks.

As evident in the global push by for-profit edu-businesses to take over public schools, no public education sector is safe from government attempts to abrogate responsibility for properly funding the provision of quality public education for the citizenry. (Features: Free Trade Sellout of Schools Sneaked In)