Teachers continue wage and conditions struggle

Former General Secretary and President Max Taylor has compared the industrial struggles in TAFE today with problems of the past, noting the union has repeatedly staved off teaching-load increases

The “18/12” campaign of the late 1970s and ’80s centred on the inequitable teaching loads of permanent teachers. Some teachers were required to teach a minimum of 24 hours a week compared with some teaching 18 hours.

The campaign to have all teachers on 18 hours minimum went for a number of years and ended with all teachers doing 20 hours teaching and 10 hours of related duties.

This is similar to Federation’s recent campaign against TAFE management attempts to increase teachers’ annual hours from 720 to 820. Our enterprise agreement campaigns in 2013 and 2016 have successfully stopped these increased hours.

Mr Taylor was the keynote speaker at TAFETA State Council on Friday, 25 October. He was the first ever Federation TAFE officer in 1972 and was further elected as General Secretary and President. He also had a successful legal career as a barrister and then magistrate.

Mr Taylor spoke passionately about the importance of TAFE and based much of his speech on his experience as a TAFE teacher and union official. He emphasised the important history of TAFE teachers taking industrial action to improve the working conditions of members and the learning conditions of students.

Specifically, he focused on the industrial campaigns between 1969 and 1983. The Kangan inquiry during the Whitlam government was a catalyst to increasing the size and reach of TAFE across Australia.

“I remember the national review and meeting Whitlam government Minister Kim Beazley senior about the importance of increasing the importance of TAFE,” Mr Taylor told the Council.

The Kangan report was student-centred not just the domain of industry bodies as training packages are now. “We need to question the focus of vocational education on industry needs. We need to focus on students,” he said.

Mr Taylor was empathetic to the concerns of TAFE teachers today and related the industrial struggles of the past as similar to the problems of today.

In 1972, teachers took industrial action to win traveling time in the award — something we still have today but is continually under pressure due to budget constraints. We must defend our travel time schedule 5 in the Enterprise Agreement, a condition won through industrial action.

Training for TAFE teachers was, and still is, a complex issue. In the 1970s, the union successfully lobbied for the creation of the Bachelor of Adult Education for all permanent teachers. Those undertaking the qualification were provided with release from teaching in recognition of this. This has now been eroded to the Certificate IV training and assessment qualification.

TAFETA members must encourage all teachers to join the union to campaign during the next Enterprise Bargaining period in 2020.