The Guardian • Issue #2093

TAFE teachers move towards stop work action, industrial bans

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2093
Students

Victorian TAFE teachers are one step closer to industrial action – including possible stop work action – after an application for a protected action ballot was approved by the Fair Work Commission.

The ballot asks members to endorse a range of possible actions, including bans and limitations on work performed, and stop work actions.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch has notified the standalone TAFE institutes and the Victorian government that the union will not participate in negotiations after employers and the Allan government have failed to put a fair deal on the table for TAFE teachers after 20 months of talks.

AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said the Allan Labor government had turned their back on their most important TAFE asset: the teachers that deliver high quality education and training to students. “When  government and TAFEs don’t listen, it is time to take action,” Peace said.

“TAFE teachers are burnt out, working longer hours than ever before and do not even have pay parity with teachers in schools.

“There is a significant shortage of TAFE teachers, with many more planning to leave the profession to return to industry where they can often earn more without the stress and excessive workloads.

“TAFE teachers have been patient, but we have been negotiating for 20 months and the state government and the TAFEs have failed to put a fair deal on the table.

“TAFE teachers play a vital role in preparing and educating skilled workers for Victorian industry and the community. They are absolutely critical to our economy.

“The Allan Labor government can’t properly tackle the skills shortage facing many industries until they address the shortage of TAFE teachers. They need to act in good faith and fund a fair and decent pay rise and conditions to retain existing TAFE teachers and attract new ones,” Peace said.

“For the past 10 years, the state government has allowed Victoria to be the lowest-funded state for vocational education and training – short-changed by almost 20 per cent compared to other states and territories. The government said they would ‘save TAFE.’ It’s time they saved TAFE teachers too, by delivering fair and decent salaries and conditions.

“The government’s salary offer of 3 per cent per year doesn’t address the needs of teachers, or the students, industries, and communities they serve. On top of that, TAFEs want some teachers to teach more hours which will add to excessive workloads at a time when workloads need to be reduced. This is unacceptable and shows that the government and TAFEs aren’t listening.

TAFE teachers are seeking a reduction in teaching hours to help alleviate unsustainably high workloads, improved access to higher level teaching qualifications so students can continue to benefit from quality vocational education and training, and pay increases to bring them in line with school teachers and further increases over the life of any new agreement.

There is a $6,600 difference in salary between experienced school and TAFE teachers, and from 1 July 2024 this gap is set to grow to $7,742 or over 7 per cent. According to the union, the government and TAFEs want teachers to teach more hours per week.

“There is no justification for the Allan government to value TAFE teachers less than school teachers,” Peace said

AEU

If you’re a TAFE teacher, make sure you vote! Do you feel undervalued and overworked? How do you feel about being asked to do more hours without a pay rise? Write to editor@cpa.org.au and let us know.

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