Message from AEU President David Genford

Well, we’re now in Week 3, leaving only six and a bit weeks left for the school year. A scary or pleasing reality, depending on how you look at it. So much to do, so little time, but a rewarding break awaits at the end of it.

For me, the only disappointment is that some of our ESP members will be stood down during this period. While the end of the year is not too far away, this has been a very busy time for everyone here at the AEU. Our E-Reporter is full of information on what has been happening but I’m going to try and focus on the two main things that we’ve been dealing with: The EBA negotiations for teachers and the radical business model the government has proposed for TAFE.

Negotiations for the Teachers Agreement have begun. It’s been a slow process with the government dragging its feet, due to the announcement of an early election and the change in Education ministers. We’ve long been ready to meet with the government and have had thorough consultation with our members to develop a strong log of claims, but we’ve had to sit on our hands, waiting. 

Now that we’ve been able to sit down and negotiate, it has become quite clear to me that the government does not understand what is happening in schools or the pressures that teachers, principals and staff are under. The DoE has not put forward any suggestions on how it wants to improve workload for our members, nor has it been given the power to offer a salary increase that would have teachers off the bottom of the State comparison ladder by the end of 2022.

It’s unfortunately likely we will be in for a long battle that will need the collective support of our members to demonstrate what the reality is inside our state schools. We need to see members that are prepared to take action to get the outcomes they deserve. We cannot sit back and maintain a workload balance that is not manageable.

The other fight we are in for, is the government’s stubborn decision to expel TasTAFE teachers and staff our of the public sector and onto the Fair Work Act – a decision based on a shoddy process, which has been followed by rushed legislation that the government will try and force through the Legislative Council. We cannot sit back and watch this happen. You only need to look at what has happened in states that have followed this path and you can see why we call it privatisation – governments setting up a system that allows for private RTO’s to come in and make money at the expense of students and TasTAFE. 

Education should be about learning, not profit – something that this government does not believe in. Our students in regional communities are to be offered only online learning, away from the hands-on learning they need and desire. 

I’ve only been in this role for six months and I am already sick of the way buzz words are used to answer questions instead of actual answers. The government says TAFE needs to be more flexible and fit for use, but cannot give one example of how TAFE is not flexible or fit for use. How, frustrating and stressful for our TAFE members. 

For our ESP members, your negotiations will start towards the end of this year. We have already started collecting feedback to build a log of claims and will continue to consult with and listen to our members as to what we need to be fighting for. If you are on Facebook, please join our ESP Facebook group, it has been a valuable addition for members to be able to pose questions and talk about what has been happening in their school.

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in our DoE ‘Wear Red’ days last term, especially our reps who made them happen. It’s great to see schools supporting our campaigns. I also encourage people to sign our TasTAFE petition, adding your name to the message telling government to stop trying to make changes to TasTAFE without a proper inquiry, one run by people that don’t have a conflict of interest!

I hope you all have a great Term 4!

In Union

David Genford

Branch President

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