TAFE & Adult Provision Getting traction on TAFE action

  • 21 Apr 2024

TAFE members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action to secure a better deal from the state government, with negotiations for a new TAFE agreement having reached an impasse. After months of discussions, the government has failed to address any of our key demands, making it clear that it is time to step up the campaign.

TAFE members need a decent pay rise, measures to address excessive workloads, and updated qualification and classification arrangements that better reflect their skills and abilities.

TAFE teacher and AEU rep Ian Grinter says that: “By voting in favour of protected action, hard-working members are having their ‘voices heard’ in their fight for a satisfactory industrial agreement – one that provides for reasonable pay and manageable workloads. We have a voice in our democracy, and it is important that we use it.”

AEU member Kate Last agrees. “It’s about time the government recognised that we are worth something, we are an integral part of the education community, and that our time and skills should be valued accordingly.”

Negotiations for a new agreement covering TAFE teachers in standalone TAFEs were meant to start in April 2022. After a delay by the state government and TAFEs, discussions have now been underway for 20 months, and it has been 15 months since teachers received an interim 2% pay increase.

“The Victorian government has claimed the position of the ‘education state’ for a very long time. It’s about time that they pay for the education they keep promoting.”

David Last

Victoria is facing a critical skills shortage, along with a shortage of TAFE teachers – who are the educators needed to teach those skills. And yet, for more than a decade, the Victorian government has left TAFE critically underfunded. Despite the state government’s promises to “save TAFE”, when it comes to vocational education and training, Victoria remains the lowest funded state in Australia.

As a result, workloads in TAFEs have skyrocketed, and burnout is at an all-time high, with teachers increasingly expected to deliver the same content in fewer hours. Experienced TAFE teachers are paid at a lower rate than school teachers, with too many persuaded to return to industry for higher wages and a more sustainable workload.

Last year, a majority of TAFE teachers in standalone TAFEs signed a petition asking to be covered by a single interest employer agreement – then approved by the Fair Work Commission – giving members better rights to take protected industrial action if needed. Now, they have taken the next step – voting to pursue collective action with the aim of forcing the state government to listen to their demands.

As AEU councillor Teghan Day says, the vote to take protected industrial action is about “strengthening our negotiating ability”.

Teacher David Last adds, saliently: “The Victorian government has claimed the position of ‘Education State’ for a very long time. It’s about time that they paid for the education they keep promoting.”

AEU TAFE members can access more information at the ‘Better Deal for TAFE Members’ campaign page here.

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