TAFE & Adult Provision RMIT contempt and VU back-pedalling

On 28 September, RMIT held its ninth bargaining meeting. At this meeting, RMIT management informed the AEU that this would be the final meeting to negotiate a new agreement, and that they were presenting their final (non-union-agreed) offer. This is the third time that RMIT has used this tactic to try to establish a substandard agreement for its TAFE teachers. In the past, we have successfully run a ‘vote no’ campaign and were able to get management back to the table to bargain.

Our main concerns with the suggested agreement are significant changes to the casual clauses: expanding the definition of casual, and increasing the number of hours that casuals can work to up to 800 hours. On top of this, RMIT proposed reduced rates of pay for casuals, decreased teaching duty pay rates by as much as $4 per hour, and dropped the non-teaching rate by a staggering $25 per hour. 

These actions open the door to a massive shift towards a casualisation of the TAFE teacher workforce at RMIT.

These actions open the door to a massive shift towards a casualisation of the TAFE teacher workforce at RMIT. Other proposed changes also worsen members’ conditions, including a substantial increase to the span of hours and the removal of curriculum allowances.

RMIT management conducted a series of ‘fire-side chats’ with employees to try to convince them of the benefits of their proposed agreement, which offers lower pay rates than those at Swinburne and those being sought through negotiations at all other TAFEs and dual-sector universities.

On 14 November, RMIT applied to the Fair Work Commission to deal with a bargaining dispute. At the hearing, RMIT stated that the negotiations had reached an impasse. The commissioner recommended that negotiations recommence at the commission, with three meetings scheduled for the remainder of this year.

VU back-pedals

Management at Victoria University approached the AEU in April this year seeking discussions around a rollover of the current agreement. The initial VU offer was not acceptable, as the proposed duration of the rollover agreement was too long, and the salary offer too low.

After several weeks of discussions, we had negotiated a better offer for our members. But after only one meeting to advise members of the offer, VU reneged on its position and instead started to implement a Voluntary Separation Package process to reduce their workforce by 300 employees across both TAFE and higher education.

We are calling on VU management to recommence negotiations and end its shameful approach towards our members.

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