TAFE NSW and AEU NSW Teachers Federation met on 21 July and 5 August in negotiations for a new enterprise agreement for TAFE teachers and related employees.
At these meetings, the parties expressed support for a cooperative approach to the 2015 round of enterprise bargaining. After the second meeting, however, TAFE NSW published a PowerPoint presentation that belies talk of cooperation.
AEU NSW Teachers Federation will oppose attempts by the employer to pay salary increases of less than 2.5% per annum and cut current working conditions. These moves will be opposed at the negotiation table and if necessary, by all available industrial, legal and political means.
By the selective use of comparisons with other state and territory TAFE systems and for-profit private providers, and comparisons between the TAFE NSW Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement and the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010 known as ‘the Modern Award’, the employer has targeted the following for its cost-cutting agenda:
- Teacher salaries
- Ordinary hours of work and attendance per week
- Teaching weeks in the year
- Weekly effective teaching time
- Annual effective teaching load
In so doing, TAFE NSW has shown utter disregard for the importance of providing the salaries and working conditions necessary for recruiting and retaining a high quality teaching workforce. The employer acts as if the delivery of high quality education and training is somehow unrelated to high quality teaching. This blatantly contradicts what governments across Australia and around the world have proclaimed for many years.
Attacks on teachers’ salaries and working conditions are replicated in negotiations for a new enterprise agreement for Institute Managers. TAFE NSW has proposed to end permanent employment for IMs by moving all positions onto limited term contracts through business reviews and restructuring. This approach denies the importance of permanent, secure employment as a recruitment and retention incentive.
The union will continue to negotiate on genuine proposals for new staff roles and modes of teaching and learning that enable TAFE NSW to maintain and expand course delivery. Such proposals must be based on transparent, accurate employment data, costings and workforce projections that substantiate the case for change.
The union will not, however, engage in a race to the bottom with private providers that put profits before the right of all citizens to gain high quality education and training at TAFE. This would be an abrogation of our responsibility as public educators to provide high quality education and training for students, for employers and industry, for local communities and for the Australian nation.