TAFE & Adult Provision Uniting to win in TAFE

AEU members in the 12 standalone TAFEs are ramping up their campaign for a better agreement, with AEU members voting overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action.

As it stands, the government has failed to adequately address our key claims. There is nothing on the table to address excessive workloads, or to fix the issues with qualifications and classifications. And they have not shifted from their basic pay offer of 3%, as well as seeking to increase teaching hours. By mid-year, an experienced TAFE teacher will be paid more than 7% (or $7,742) less than their counterparts in schools. With shortages of TAFE teachers, none of this will result in attracting and retaining the workforce needed.

With 95% of eligible TAFE members voting to endorse industrial action, we can now put more pressure on the state government and TAFEs – sending a clear and direct message that we are ready to campaign until our key issues are resolved.

Elected AEU councillors from the TAFE and Adult Provision Sector endorsed AEU leadership to finalise a program of industrial action. As the action is authorised by the Fair Work Commission and protected, it means that members can take industrial action with freedom from prosecution (unless an action is likely to involve personal injury or damage, destruction or taking of property).

Achieving the right to take protected action does not come easily. Employees and employers may only take protected industrial action when they are negotiating an enterprise agreement and only certain agreements provide for that possibility.

Our standalone TAFE members from Gippsland, Melbourne Polytechnic, Chisholm, The Gordon, South West, Wodonga, Holmesglen, GO TAFE, Bendigo Kangan, Box Hill, Sunni, and William Angliss TAFE, fought successfully to change the type of enterprise agreement under which they are employed to a single interest employer agreement. Their previous agreement did not allow them to take industrial action. 

AEU TAFE members showed that when they stand together, they can achieve positive change. With the right to take protected action, members can now elect to impose bans and limitations on such tasks as responding to emails, attending meetings, completing audits and, if needed, take stopwork action. All of these actions are designed to put pressure on employers and the government by highlighting the seriousness of the issues and the willingness of members to fight to achieve better pay, entitlements and conditions.

Alongside this campaigning, we need to keep building our membership base. Our strength is in our numbers – the more members we have, the more we can stand together as a united force, and the greater our chance of winning. We are calling on all members to ask your non-member colleagues to join. Together, we can secure the pay and conditions that TAFE teachers deserve. 

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