The State Government misled parliament over the TasTAFE move to a Government Business when it said no employee would be worse off as part of the changes, the Australian Education Union Tasmania Branch said today.
“The jury is in – the state government has misled Tasmanians when it continually promised that no TasTAFE employee would be worse off under their forced transition from the State Service to the Fair Work system.
“The evidence is in black and white in the proposed new TasTAFE General Staff Agreement* which cuts a host of employee conditions and which TasTAFE in now trying to force through via a ballot,” said Tristan Sabol, Australian Education Union Tasmania TAFE Division President.
“We are calling on the Premier to urgently intervene to stop this TasTAFE belligerence and attack on staff and uphold his government’s promise that no employee would be harmed by the changes,” Mr Sabol said.
“MLCs were targeted for misinformation by the Government when the Upper House debated the legislation to change TasTAFE to a GB and they would be rightly angry at this this breach of trust,” he said.
Reductions to conditions of employment that TasTAFE is seeking to force through in its proposed new Agreement include:
- CUT – independent arbitration.
- No right to have a dispute or grievance arbitrated, meaning that when something unfair happens, employees must go to Court and spend thousands of dollars on legal fees, or simply give up.
- Previously, employees had a right to have issues at work dealt with by an external and independent Commission which could deal with disputes, grievances, actions, and inactions of the employer.
- CUT – penalty rates.
- “Ordinary hours” are being eroded and penalty rates for work on weekends and after hours are being cut. “Work outside of ordinary hours” rates mean employees won’t be paid overtime, but a lower penalty payment on the hours outside 7am-7pm Monday to Friday.
- TasTAFE want to make employees work nights and weekends as part of employees’ regular hours (not as overtime).
- CUT – rights to permanency.
- The proposed Agreement provides no rights to permanency.
- CUT – meal allowances.
- Evening meal allowances are to be cut
- CUT – lunch breaks
- Lunch breaks to be cut to half an hour.
- CUT – sick leave
- Triennium sick leave to be abolished.
- CUT – consultation
- The rights of employees to be consulted about changes are drastically reduced. Instead of working with employees to implement decisions, TasTAFE will implement decisions, only seeking ‘feedback’ after major decisions are already made.
Also, TasTAFE’s wages offer represents a real wage cut and is below inflation. Workers in the Tasmanian State Service will receive additional payments to offset the high cost of living but TasTAFE is not including these payments in their ‘offer’.
“Inadequate pay and reducing working conditions at TasTAFE will simply worsen existing recruitment and retention problems and reduce the quality of the education and training experience for students,” said Mr Sabol.
“The AEU repeatedly raised concerns at the effective privatisation of TasTAFE and what the new ‘business model’ would mean for students and staff but all issues were flatly denied by government, proving they were either incompetent or dishonest,” he said.
* The General Staff Agreement covers non-teaching staff in areas including administration and management. A new Agreement covering teaching staff is also being negotiated.
“Crucially, we’re securing the future of existing TasTAFE staff members with no forced redundancies and ensuring that no one will be worse off.” (Jeremy Rockliff media release, 30 September 2021)
“No existing TasTAFE employee will be worse off.” (Department of State Growth factsheet)
“No teacher has had their pay cut, and no teacher or staff member will be worse off under the new structure from 1 July this year,”(Roger Jaensch, Examiner newspaper, July 1 2022)
HANSARD – LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 24 NOVEMBER 2021
Leonie Hiscutt – Leader for the Government in the Legislative Council
“The Government has committed that TasTAFE employees will be no worse off through the TasTAFE transition.”
Rosemary Armitage MLC (Independent)
“We need to ensure our teachers and trainers are not at all disadvantaged. It has not been stated to us that they are not worse off under Fair Work. This is of great concern to the current teachers and unions and there must be assurances, as happy workplaces are much more productive and happy teachers will produce much more comforted and confident students.”
Tania Rattray MLC (Independent)
“I thank those people again who have taken the time to make contact. As I have said, and others have made the point loud and clear, the changes from the public servants to the Fair Work arrangements are causing some concerns. As much detail on that, Leader, on the public record to allay those fears would go some way to providing those employees with a level of comfort they will not be disadvantaged. It is difficult when we and others have read out about the Fair Work and BOOT test and the fact no one will be disadvantaged and we have that in writing. I am happy to table the letter from the minister if somebody thinks that would be useful to have on the public record. Given we have the second reading speech, which is the minister’s speech in the other place and the Leader delivers it here, it is on the record. No government can make those commitments and then turn around and not deliver on them. It is just not possible. You would be run out of town.”“I am not sure how much clearer it can be that those employees who are genuinely concerned about their conditions and their entitlements will not be disadvantaged.”“If these changes deliver a more flexible and more adaptable TasTAFE training organisation for our state at an affordable price, which disadvantages no one, then I see no reason not to support it.”
Mike Gaffney MLC (Independent)
“We have been advised that as a safeguard under Fair Work, there is the BOOT – better off overall test – which is a complex legislative element with a mandated process. This is one that acts as a self-explanatory check to ensure any new agreement in overall terms does not disadvantage employees under a new negotiated agreement agreed to by both sides. Additionally, Mr Tim Gardner who is the new chair of the TasTAFE Board offered this comment in a letter to me. He said:
Not once during my 20 years of leadership and management have I seen cost reduction or erosion of employee entitlements successfully used as tools for improving organisational outcomes and it certainly won’t be any different for TasTAFE. Instead, as the state’s public provider, TasTAFE needs to focus on making the very best use of the funding we receive, 80 per cent of which is spent on employing our people.”