Government’s case for TAFE privatisation shattered by Agreement revelations

Revelations that the Tasmanian Government is overdue to commence negotiations for a new workplace Agreement for TasTAFE teachers and staff destroys the case and timeline for their privatisation proposal.

An explosive letter from Australian Education Union State Manager Brian Wightman to TasTAFE CEO Grant Dreher points out that Government demands for flexibility and increased wages can be easily and quickly met through union negotiations that were scheduled to commence before the Government’s privatisation push was announced.

“There have been ample opportunities for the Liberal Government to raise issues and have them dealt with, from previous negotiations and consultative working groups to a simple phone call and meeting,” said Brian Wightman.

“Instead of bringing issues to the appropriate forum and treating teachers and staff with respect and professionalism, Peter Gutwein has declared war on TAFE with a privatisation bomb in parliament.”

“Our members, TasTAFE teachers and support staff, found out about proposals for voluntary redundancies and dramatic changes to their working conditions from a speech in parliament and media coverage. Members are rightly shocked, saddened and angry.”

“The worst part is, TasTAFE members and representatives offered up the very things the Liberal Government now says they want – flexibility in working arrangements and pay rises for teachers – at the last round of negotiations and the Government rejected them.”

“The Premier acknowledges TAFE is critical to Tasmania’s economic recovery, but instead of moving quickly to invest in TAFE with more teachers and increased student places, he’s started what will be a drawn-out war.”

The Australian Education Union submission to the 2021-2022 State Budget includes an increased investment in TasTAFE for more teachers, course options and increased student places.

“The simplest way to improve TAFE is to employ more teachers and that requires Government investment – if Peter Gutwein is serious about creating more training options to get Tasmanians ready for work, I say show me the money and let’s start negotiations now.”

“End the war on TAFE and let’s negotiate.”

“Peter Gutwein and the Liberal Party know their privatisation proposal won’t deliver anything this year – they also know the current TasTAFE workplace Agreement expires in just three months’ time and negotiations should be commencing now.”

The current TasTAFE Teaching Staff Industrial Agreement 2019 expires on 30th June 2021 and covers items such as hours of work, teaching loads, holidays and staff salaries. Under the Agreement, negotiations should commence “no later than six months prior to the expiry of this agreement.”

“If the Liberal Party cared about TAFE, about jobs and about quality training and education, they would bring their proposals to the negotiation table immediately where they can be resolved far quicker than their baseless war on TAFE will deliver anything.”


* Letter to TasTAFE CEO Grant Dreher