In February and March 2022, the AEU consulted TAFE members employed under the Victorian TAFE Teaching Staff Agreement 2018 at a range of meetings across the 12 standalone TAFE campuses with the purpose of compiling a log of claims. The log reflected teachers’ concerns about their conditions, including excessive workloads, insecure employment, teaching and assessing arrangements, recognition of qualifications, and pay.
In early April 2022, the AEU served the endorsed log of claims on TAFEs via their bargaining agent, the Victorian TAFE Association (VTA), as required under the current agreement. However, the VTA was not prepared to join the negotiation process until June 2022. Since then, close to weekly meetings have taken place between the AEU and the VTA.
This has placed additional pressure on a workforce that is already under massive workload stress.
Despite these meetings, there has been little progress in the negotiations, with the TAFEs failing to act on the concerns of their teachers, and the Andrews government sitting on its hands.
During this time, TAFE teachers’ workloads have increased due to several causes, including staff shortages; re-registration requirements for TAFEs in 2022; the need to write course material for new training packages; and greater compliance requirements associated with getting these courses onto the scope of registration for each TAFE.
This has placed additional pressure on a workforce that is already under massive workload stress. The 2021 ‘State of Our TAFEs’ survey found that more than 77% of TAFE teachers had experienced an increase in workload, with almost 50% considering the increase significant.
A majority of teachers – both members and non-members at each of the standalone TAFEs – need to vote in favour via the ‘majority support petition’.
Under new industrial relations laws, the current Multi Employer Agreement (MEA) will cease to exist, and a new type of agreement will need to be in place for teachers and education managers employed under the MEA. This presents TAFE members with an opportunity to get a new type of agreement that can serve the interests of teachers and improve their current working conditions and pay rates.
The AEU will be making an application for our next agreement to be a Single Interest Employer Agreement (SIEA). For this, a majority of teachers – both members and non-members at each of the standalone TAFEs – need to vote in favour via the ‘majority support petition’. This would have significant advantages over the current MEA by giving teachers the power to take industrial action in support of better pay and conditions.
AEU organisers and leadership have been visiting TAFE campuses to discuss negotiations and to inform members and non-members about the benefits of a SIEA. We are urging all members in standalone TAFEs to show your support by signing the majority support petition, attending your sub-branch meetings, and talking to non-member colleagues about why it is important to sign the petition and join the union.
Getting a Single Interest Employer Agreement will require all members to be active. Encourage non-member colleagues to sign the petition now, and stand up for the pay and conditions that all TAFE teachers deserve.