TAFE & Adult Provision Bargaining for change in TAFE

  • By Justin Mullaly
  • This article was published more than 7 months ago.
  • 19 Sep 2023

What is the Victorian TAFE Teaching Staff Agreement?

The Victorian TAFE Teaching Staff Agreement determines the pay and conditions for TAFE teachers employed by the 12 standalone TAFE institutes. It sets the arrangements and limitations on teaching hours, planning time, administration requirements, attendance, and leave arrangements – and, of course, your pay. It also contains clauses on matters such as consultation, union representation, and dispute resolution.

Many members will know the agreement as the ‘MEA’, or multi-employer agreement, which refers to the type of agreement it is, rather than its official name – but more on that below.

The current agreement nominally expired in October 2022. The AEU negotiated a 2% salary increase, which was paid in November 2022 as an interim measure while negotiations continue.

Negotiations for a new TAFE agreement started in June 2022, following a three-month delay by the Andrews government and employers.

What is a log of claims?

Early last year, AEU members built our log of claims – a document that outlines the changes to salaries and conditions we want to see in the new agreement.

The final log of claims was endorsed by AEU TAFE teacher members who are elected to the union’s TAFE Committee. This log provides the basis on which we negotiate with the representative for TAFEs – the Victorian TAFE Association.

Click here to view members’ log of claims for the next TAFE agreement:

How do negotiations work?

Negotiations for a new TAFE agreement started in June 2022, following a three-month delay by the Andrews government and employers.

In negotiations, TAFE employers and the AEU bring to the table the working arrangements they want to see in the new agreement. This process takes time, as it is critical that the AEU negotiators clearly put forward the union’s claims and associated arguments, and consider in detail the claims of the employer, word by word, sentence by sentence.

TAFEs are represented by the Victorian TAFE Association. The AEU’s negotiating team includes Elaine Gillespie (AEU Vice President TAFE), Melinda Bolton (AEU Industrial Officer), and myself.

The AEU has applied to the FWC so that we can bargain for a single interest employer agreement (one that covers all teachers in all TAFEs).

New laws and opportunities

The laws that dictate how industrial agreements are made have changed recently – for the better – and TAFE members are taking advantage of them.

Since June 2023, new federal laws have been in place that we can use to put more pressure on employers and the Andrews government to get an improved agreement. That’s why we have asked TAFE teachers to sign the majority support petition, and why the AEU has made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for a single interest employer authorisation.

TAFE teachers have a right to bargain collectively for an agreement that covers every teacher in every TAFE. The point of asking the FWC for a single interest agreement authorisation is to ensure that the form of the agreement is one that enables union members to consider taking industrial action.

The multi-employer agreement (MEA) mentioned earlier is no longer available as a form of an industrial agreement, and its closest equivalent – a cooperative agreement – does not permit members to take this form of action. After 12 months of negotiations, we clearly need to consider putting industrial pressure on the Andrews government to achieve a decent deal.

The AEU has applied to the FWC so that we can bargain for a single interest employer agreement (one that covers all teachers in all TAFEs). If our application is successful then we can consider taking steps towards industrial action, which may include stopwork action and bans, or limitations on particular types of work.

Every TAFE teacher needs to be a member of the AEU – and most of those who haven’t yet joined have simply never been asked.

What you can do right now

Every TAFE teacher needs to be a member of the AEU – and most of those who haven’t yet joined have simply never been asked. So, ask your colleagues to join! We will get a new agreement with improved wages and conditions, but only through strength in numbers. TAFE teachers can join the AEU at aeuvic.asn.au/join.

It’s important to remind any teacher colleagues who haven’t yet joined the AEU that it is not OK for them to reap the benefits of a new agreement – achieved through your commitment and hard work – without also contributing to the cost and taking part in the campaign.

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