A union-won court ruling undoing cuts to TasTAFE teacher conditions has highlighted broken Rockliff Government promises while bringing into question the Upper House’s support for TasTAFE privatisation.
State branches of the Australian Education Union and the United Workers Union last November took TasTAFE to the Fair Work Commission contesting that new TasTAFE employees be employed on the same working conditions as current workers.
On Friday it was announced the entitlements fought for by the unions have now been won, and TasTAFE management will be forced to return annual leave and reduce working hours for new teachers.
The ruling is the first of its kind in Australia, with a contested application for a consolidation order having never been granted until now.
AEU Tasmania TAFE Division President Simon Bailey said the ruling represented a huge win for educators and workers’ rights.
“The Rockliff Government’s privatisation agenda was passed by Upper House Members on a lie that no employees will be worse off under these changes,” he said.
“I am proud to announce that this union win means the cuts to conditions the Government promised wouldn’t happen, have now been reversed.
“Unions warned the Rockliff Government and MLCs theirchanges would cut teacher conditions, and they did. Only union action has won them back.”
UWU Tasmania coordinator Amy Brumby also spoke out against the Government’s privatisation of TasTAFE.
“Workers are relieved to know they have secured existing pay and conditions both for themselves and future staff doing the same job,” she said.
“This is a huge win against the Government’s agenda of privatisation which threatens secure jobs and decent pay for all TAFE employees.
“You don’t build a strong economy in Tasmania by taking away from working people and their families.”
Under the union win, dozens of TasTAFE teachers employed since July 1, 2022 when staff were expelled from the State Service, will see their pay remain the same but will have their hours dropped from 38 to 35 per week, bringing this in line with employees on the old Agreement.
New TasTAFE teachers will also receive an extra week of Leave – creating equity with existing workers.
It was the Fair Work Commission’s view that it was in the public interest that these changes were made.
The Commission hearing also revealed TasTAFE’s total teacher count dropped by 18 over the 12 months to October 2022. This is despite a broken Rockliff Government promise to employ 100 new teachers.