Minister to face daily reminder that TAFE teachers are awaiting wage rise

TAFE members will begin a sit-in at the front of NSW Skills Minister Geoffrey Lee’s Parramatta office from Monday (9 November).

“We will be sitting outside his office all day, every day until the next day we are in the Fair Work Commission,” Federation Deputy Secretary Maxine Sharkey said. “We are demanding that he does his job and advocates on behalf of TAFE teachers [and] that they are paid according to the agreement reached between Federation and TAFE management.”

TAFE teachers have not had a pay rise since November 2018. “It’s been a year, almost to the day, since we started bargaining and we still have not been paid and we still have not been told when we are going to be paid it,” Ms Sharkey said.

On 11 March, Federation and TAFE NSW settled on proposed wording for the agreement but on 18 March, the employer reneged on its commitment to put it to a ballot of teachers and related employees.

TAFE NSW indicated in June that it was not prepared to finalise an agreement until the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) ruled on the Government’s application for a 12-month wage freeze for nurses and other public sector workers.

Mid-year, Federation lodged a bargaining dispute with the Fair Work Commission over TAFE NSW’s refusal to honour the agreement reached with the union. “We came to a good-faith agreement and they walked away,” Ms Sharkey said.

On 1 October, the IRC awarded a 0.3 per cent pay rise. The NSW Government announced it is now planning to reduce the public sector wages cap from 2.5 to 1.5 per cent.

The TAFE dispute was back before the Fair Work Commission yesterday (Friday 6 November) and will return again on 19 November.