Amid pressure from the AEU and its members, Victorian TAFEs have been forced to withdraw a joint application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that sought to vary the wording in the Multi-Enterprise Agreement (MEA). TAFE CEOs were pushing to remove assessment from face-to-face teaching delivery – a move that not only showed a total disregard for the reality of what constitutes teaching but would have also allowed them to increase the number of hours a teacher can be required to teach and supervise students. (Read our full story on page 9.)
Withdrawing their application means TAFEs will no longer be able to try to change the agreement through the FWC and members’ hard-won conditions will be preserved. The AEU will continue to resist any attempts by TAFEs to undermine the agreed definition of teaching or in any way weaken members’ entitlements.
Teachers at Bendigo Kangan (BKI) have already been subject to the rogue behaviour of their employer, with numerous reports of staff rostered to do two to three hours per week supervising students to assess competencies, in addition to their full 800-hour teaching load. Several teachers have told us they feel they can’t take leave when sick due to concerns about colleagues’ workloads, with some doing 35 hours of face-to-face teaching a week (ignoring that each hour should attract half an hour of preparation time) and all excess teaching duty hours being used to cover normal classes.
We have been supporting more than 30 members in disputes with BKI over workplans and teaching loads. As conciliation hearings have not resolved these grievances, the AEU has asked the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate the disputes jointly.
We are also investigating reports of TAFEs requiring teachers to self-nominate as ‘industry experts’, allowing them to be employed for more than 13 weeks in a category that should only apply to ‘casual ad-hoc work’ under the MEA.