NSW Teachers TAFE campaign
University and high school teachers supported the TAFE teachers by joining their rallies during strike action across NSW last week in defence of TAFE. What is happening to TAFE — casualisation and privatisation — is also threatening university and high school education. Barry Sexton, Senior Vice-President, NSW Teachers' Federation, said, "Despite community opposition there is clear evidence that the Carr Government is commencing the down-grading and privatisation of TAFE". The 24-hour strike on Tuesday, August 31, centred around the budget cuts to TAFE of $67 million (in real terms) and plans to retrench over 630 teaching and support staff. The funding cuts and retrenchments were announced with no consultation with teachers or unions and are part of the ongoing process of casualisation and privatisation. One TAFE worker told The Guardian that the Government's plan for the future of TAFE is to get rid of permanent staff altogether. Teaching staff will be casual and management will be employed on fixed-year contracts. Increasingly TAFE is being forced to compete with the private sector for funding through a system of competitive tendering. Education and training are being turned into commodities which can be provided under contract by a public (TAFE) or private "service provider". The quality of "service" is threatened by competitive tendering as "providers" find ways to make lower bids. An increasing amount of TAFE's work is being contracted out in line with National Competition Policy. Privatisation In 1996 only 2.2 per cent of total student hours were taught by private providers; last year it had reached 10.2 per cent and this will increase more rapidly still as a larger slice of total TAFE funding is tendered out. In other words 10 percent of TAFE has already been privatised. Next year it will rise again. That TAFE is being treated less as a public learning institution and more as an entrepreneurial business venture is also reflected by the revelation of dubious lurks and perks of TAFE management. "It has been revealed that TAFE management is spending $180,000 on Olympic tickets, accommodation and hospitality for clients and senior bureaucrats", said Barry Sexton. Meanwhile, TAFE is suffering: "TAFE has stated they are expecting an increase of 10,700 in the number of student places next year. With the reduction in staff this can only mean an increase in class sizes and a reduction in the subjects offered", said Mr Sexton. Further strike action is planned for Wednesday, September 22. Help keep TAFE You can help keep TAFE a viable and public education system by writing to or sending a fax to the Premier Bob Carr, calling on him and the State Government to reverse the budget cuts and end the casualisation and contracting out of TAFE. Write to: The Hon RJ Carr MP, Level 40, Governor Macquarie Place, Sydney, NSW 2000; Fax: (02) 9228 3934.