Members working in standalone TAFEs have long been stuck on an outdated workplace agreement, limiting their right to take industrial action if necessary, and hindering their ability to campaign for improvements to pay and conditions.
But members have taken a huge step towards changing this. Thanks largely to the tireless efforts of AEU representatives, organisers, and active members, a majority of TAFE teachers have supported the AEU‘s petition for a single interest employer agreement – a new type of agreement for TAFE members.
More than 50% of all teachers, senior educators and education managers working in each of Victoria‘s 12 standalone TAFEs were required to sign the majority support petition to get this over the line.
Ultimately, the petition was signed by more than 50% of teachers, senior educators, and education managers at Gippsland, Melbourne Polytechnic, Chisholm, Gordon, Go TAFE, Wodonga, and Holmesglen, and more than 60% at Bendigo Kangan Batman, Box Hill, South West, Sunraysia, and William Angliss.
Achieveing a majority support petition shows the strength that comes when union members act collectively.
The union‘s application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for a single interest employer authorisation is being considered as I write. The FWC must give its approval before we can bargain for a single interest employer agreement and consider the next steps of our campaign. If the FWC approves the AEU‘s application, we can then consider a further application for a protected action bargaining order and run a member ballot to get majority approval to take action on the key issues.
Our members need better pay, secure employment, reduced workloads, and better recognition for qualifications. But it is clear, at this point in negotiations, that we will not get a new agreement without considering putting significant industrial pressure on the Andrews government.
Achieveing a majority support petition shows the strength that comes when union members act collectively. We can now fight for an agreement that gives TAFE members the respect they deserve.