24-hour TAFE strike draws attention to Government inaction

The voting public’s awareness of the Perrottet Government’s continuing failure to address the reasons for the TAFE teacher shortage received a boost today (2 November), with TAFE members engaging in a 24-hour strike.

Media coverage of the strike outlined to the public why members were taking industrial action.

Those ideologues who carry on everyday about a skills shortage and “What are we going to do’, wringing their hands, are the ones who created the skills shortage because of the destruction that has been metered out,” Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos told a rally held in Mary Ann Street Park, opposite Ultimo TAFE, where TAFE NSW managing director Stephen Brady’s office is located. Members from campuses in the greater Sydney area, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Wollongong and Newcastle attended.

How can you continue to provide the TAFE service that this state needs, when you slash the workforce by half in 10 years? How can you continue to provide the TAFE service, the skills training this state needs, when you treat your employees with utter contempt?

Bring on March 25, because the Perrottet Government has got to go.

The Government and TAFE NSW have failed to engage in good faith bargaining for the new TAFE enterprise agreement since TAFE NSW’s proposed enterprise agreement was rejected by employees in August. The offer failed to:

  • keep pace with cost of living pressures
  • provide salaries parity with school teachers and the trades and professions they teach
  • address untenable workloads
  • reduce the level of workforce casualisation.

Federation General Secretary and Australian Education Union Federal TAFE Secretary Maxine Sharkey said: “Things have got pretty bad when TAFE teachers go on strike,”

This Government has destroyed TAFE as an institution and the people who feel it the most are our students, because there’s only half of us of what there was in 2012 when this lot came into government… yet there’s still the same number of students,” Ms Sharkey said. They’ve cut our courses in half, they’ve cut the time in which we can deliver our courses in half. We still have to teach the same amount but in less time. Our students still have to learn the same amount but in less time and students have never paid so much. Shame indeed.”

This Coalition Government, from Barry O’Farrell onwards has treated TAFE teachers with contempt; not only TAFE teachers but the institution of TAFE. They don’t give a bugger about TAFE as a social good. They’ve demonstrated what they think of TAFE… an ever-changing series of managing directors who are not educators…There’s also been a revolving door of Ministers.”

They [Coalition politicians] don’t give a bugger about TAFE teachers, TAFE students or TAFE as an institution but they give a bugger about their own cushy nest; they all want to get re-elected in the March election,” she said. We need to loudly talk about why we’re not going to re-elect them.”

Other speakers included Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Vanessa Seagrove, Public Service Association General Secretary Stewart Little and Federation members Kristine Highet and Vincent Digges.

State election campaign

Federation members are resolute that teacher shortages will be the determining factor when people cast their vote in the NSW election on 25 March next year.

Members will focus their efforts in marginal seats, where the state election outcome will be determined.

Candidates will be asked to reveal their personal commitment to fixing the teacher shortages and securing the teachers we need for the future, how they’ll address the reasons for the shortages and what they’ll do about reversing TAFE underfunding. The positions of political parties will be reported via fact sheets, articles and videos.

Federation Senior Officers will attend TAFE college branch meetings this term to develop campaign plans for term 1, 2023.