AEU withdraws from TAFE bargaining

AEU Victoria has withdrawn from TAFE enterprise bargaining today after the Andrews Government refused to budge on its demands to slash TAFE teachers’ working conditions.

The AEU has been in negotiations for a new TAFE agreement since October 2016. AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the withdrawal from negotiations was a last resort.

“We will not stand for a deal that doesn’t respect TAFE teachers and leaves them worse off. We have worked over many months to arrive at an agreement with the Andrews Government,” said Ms Peace.

“Victoria has the lowest paid TAFE teachers in the country. Our TAFEs are the lowest-funded of any state. Our members are seeking to be recognised for their skills and qualifications, and to have conditions which will maintain high-quality learning for students.

“The Government wants to increase TAFE teacher’s annual classroom teaching hours from the current average 741 hours to 900 hours per year. Our members will not stand for that. There is real potential that increasing teaching hours mean that TAFEs need less teachers, which could lead to job losses.

“Teachers are the bedrock of our skills and training system and are already stretched. The Andrews government was elected after promising it would save TAFE. Now they are asking TAFE teachers to increase teaching hours by almost 20%, without any additional compensation.

“TAFE was gutted under the Ballieu/Napthine Government. More than 3,000 TAFE teachers lost their jobs and $1.2 billion funding was slashed from the sector. Victoria’s public TAFE system desperately needs to be rebuilt. If the Andrews Government is serious about rebuilding TAFE it shouldn’t be trying to cut working conditions for TAFE teachers. 

“Our TAFEs receive the highest proportion of income from student fees, not public funding. This is a direct result of the privatisation of Victoria’s training system – where TAFEs are forced to compete with dodgy private training providers who are incentivised to cut corners at student’s expense.

“We are seeking a fair and reasonable outcome for TAFE teachers to ensure that their working conditions support the best possible education and training for TAFE students. Today the AEU Council voted to withdraw from bargaining after months of trying to reach an outcome.

“It seems the Andrews Government wants training-on-the-cheap. Public TAFEs deliver high quality vocational education and training and job-ready graduates. This is not just about teachers - ultimately students will be the ones who miss out,” said Ms Peace.

Key facts:

  • The State Government is seeking to increase annual class-facing teaching hours from 741 to 900, an increase of almost 20%
  • The State Government is seeking to increase weeks of attendance from 42 to 46 weeks per year, even though TAFE teachers are already accountable for this work, only not required to attend the workplace
  • The majority of Victoria’s TAFE teachers are paid $10,000 less than NSW TAFE teachers. A top of the scale NSW TAFE teacher receives $95,569 compared to a top of the scale Victorian TAFE teacher, who receives $85,613
  • Chronic underfunding of Victoria’s training sector has meant TAFE teacher workloads have been steadily increasing, with many teachers now required to deliver courses in less hours than TAFEs get funding for, and undertake increased administration and compliance
  • 75% of Victorian TAFE teachers are fixed term or casually employed - you can't have a quality system with quality outcomes for students without secure employment for teachers

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