Survey will guide salary bargaining

Federation has been holding meetings with TAFE members to undertake a survey and discuss upcoming enterprise bargaining.

The Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement expires on 27 January next year, while the TAFE Managers Enterprise Agreement expired on 23 October and both Federation and the CPSU/PSA are bargaining with TAFE for a replacement Agreement. The union envisages bargaining for the teachers’ Enterprise Agreement will start before the end of the year.

Given the closure of some colleges because of bushfires, the timeframe for meetings was extended, to ensure all members had an opportunity to discuss priorities.

The right to bargain for decent working conditions and fair salaries is the most basic reason for a union’s existence. As a large and strong union of teachers, Federation is also concerned with the learning conditions of our students, maintaining fairness of opportunity and a just society for those students into the future.

TAFE teachers are clearly committed to ensuring high quality educational content for all students, as well as ensuring students have time to learn. Teachers are seeking time away from administrative and compliance duties to participate in educationally sound professional learning for themselves, as teachers are aware that our professional knowledge and currency affects students' learning.

TAFE teachers are acutely aware that teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions and are determined to enhance these through the bargaining process.

Overwhelmingly, teachers see students’ needs as union business, as demonstrated during discussions around educational content, assessment and delivery hours.

Members have been quite clear and consistent in outlining their concerns and priorities for this bargaining period. As well as a salary increase, teachers are seeking additional professional learning, career pathways, permanency, improved consultation processes, more (reliable) administrative assistance, and smaller class sizes.

Members who have attended these meetings have agreed they will make time to attend workplace union meetings more regularly. Although incredibly busy with ever-increasing demands from the employer, members said that these meetings provide an opportunity to discuss current workplace issues with like-minded people in a safe space and they create a feeling of comradery and hope. Members reminisced about a time when they shared a lunch break together with other teachers and had the opportunity to talk.

Best practice cannot occur without time for professional reflection and discussion. Complex problems cannot be resolved without high-level questioning and deep thought and these cannot occur while racing from one deadline to another in order to complete mindless compliance tasks or fill in a spreadsheet.

Professional development does not occur in isolation, but flourishes when surrounded by educators and colleagues who push boundaries and extend our thinking. Union meetings provide a venue for this kind of discussion.