Teachers urged to reject TAFE agreement

Illawarra TAFE teachers are being urged to vote "no" to a TAFE enterprise agreement in an electronic ballot opening tomorrow.

NSW Teachers Federation Illawarra TAFE organiser Terry Keeley said voting against the enterprise agreement would prevent TAFE management from implementing plans to replace teachers with lower-paid tutors/instructors and assessors.

Mr Keeley said the Teachers Federation and Australian Education Union (AEU) NSW were encouraging teachers across the state to vote "no" to force TAFE management to return to negotiations with the union.

"I would urge any teachers from the Illawarra or any other institute to vote 'no' as this enterprise agreement offers no protection for teachers," Mr Keeley said.

"There's no guarantee that teachers in front of classrooms won't be replaced by a lesser qualified and cheaper workforce."

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Mr Keeley said the proposed enterprise agreement featured new classifications of staff which included tutors/instructors and assessors.

The proposed "delivery teams" could include a teacher and/or head teacher plus any number of these tutors and assessors, he said.

"This will allow TAFE to replace teachers who traditionally do assessment planning and classroom teaching with these people with basic qualifications," he said.

"Once you start lowering the qualifications of teachers, you start to impact on the quality of vocational education and training provided."

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Mr Keeley said the jobs of casual teachers would be most at risk under these new classifications, while the roles of head teachers would also be undermined under the proposed agreement.

"Currently, when the workload of a head teacher reaches a certain point they become a 'band two' head teacher," he said.

"Management wants to do away with this formula, and make it their prerogative to decide when, and if, to create any head teacher's position."

However, TAFE NSW managing director Pam Christie said the proposed enterprise agreement aimed to increase TAFE's competitiveness, to provide long-term job security for teachers.

"Far from protecting teaching jobs, the AEU's 'no change' approach will create the reverse situation," she said.

"Despite TAFE NSW being the nation's premier training organisation, unless it changes how it works and adapts to customer needs, we will undoubtedly lose more business, putting current and future teaching jobs at risk.

"Promoting an enterprise agreement 'no' vote is a backward step for teacher job security in a rapidly changing training environment."

Ms Christie said the proposed enterprise agreement maintained teacher working conditions and provided a 2.5 per cent pay rise.

"[The AEU] must know that an enterprise agreement can't guarantee jobs, particularly in the new environment TAFE must now operate."

Mr Keeley said teachers could vote via computer or telephone in the ballot which runs until Friday, with results expected early next week.

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