TasTAFE summoned for a “please explain” to Legislative Council scrutiny committee

TasTAFE will be hauled before a Legislative Council scrutiny committee* tomorrow [Tuesday 5th December], required to explain a litany of cuts and broken promises to the education and training provider, the Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch said today.

“Since the State Government and TasTAFE forced employees from the State Service to the Fair Work jurisdiction we have seen nothing but cuts and broken promises,” AEU Tasmanian Branch President, David Genford said.

“Members of the Legislative Council were targeted for misinformation during debate on the legislation and TasTAFE must now front-up and admit that Parliament, students, employers and the Tasmanian community were misled,” Mr Genford said.

“The Government and TasTAFE promised repeatedly that no staff would be worse off as part the transition to a Government Business and that could not be further from the truth.

“A new General Staff Agreement, devised by TasTAFE, contains a litany of cuts to employment conditions risking the prospects for students and employers as poorer working conditions worsen existing problems with retaining and recruiting staff.”  

The TasTAFE General Employees Enterprise Agreement 2023, recently balloted, cuts conditions including penalty rates, sick leave, allowances and rights to independent arbitration.

“A disturbing pattern of cuts and attacks on working conditions have emerged since employees were forced into Fair Work and TasTAFE became a Government Business,” said Mr Genford.

Despite the Federal Government making TasTAFE a priority in new skills agreements and thousands of fee-free TAFE courses, the State Government’s 2023-24 Budget delivered $15 million of funding cuts across 4 years and projects $40.3 million in TasTAFE budget deficits.**

“Cutting millions of dollars from TasTAFE when education and skills are desperately needed across the Tasmanian economy is an appalling mistake and increases pressure on already overworked TasTAFE staff,” he said.

From 1 July 2022, TasTAFE began cutting the conditions of TasTAFE teachers and staff. Unions took TasTAFE to the Fair Work Commission in November 2022 and won. Following an appeal, which TasTAFE lost, the Fair Work Commission found that new employees were worse off and ruled that lost conditions be restored.

“It appears the new regime is hell bent on dismantling what is an award winning and highly regarded public education and training provider, which is there for the public good to serve all Tasmanians.

“We are calling on the Premier to urgently intervene to stop TasTAFE’s belligerent attack on staff and uphold his government’s promise that no employee would be harmed by the changes.

“Members of the Legislative Council were misled by the Rockliff Government as they pushed through their ‘Jetstar Model’ changes to TasTAFE, and they now have the opportunity to hold the Government to account and demand TasTAFE staff be returned to their State Service positions with their promised rights and conditions.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:

* The Legislative Council Sessional Committee Government Administration ‘A’ will hold a short ‘Inquiry into the financial and operational performance of TasTAFE’ on Tuesday 5th December commencing at 1:30pm

** TasTAFE funding cuts and deficit budgets

 2022-23   Budget2023-24 Forward Estimate2024-25 Forward Estimate2025-26 Forward Estimate2026-27 Forward Estimate
 $’000$’000$’000$’000$’000
State Grants124,527117,545119,216107,734109,520
Increase (cut) (6,982)1,671(11,482)1,786
Net result
(deficits in brackets)
9031,320(3,764)(17,833)(18,737)
Budget Paper No 2 Vol 2, Table 27.2 – State Budget 2023-24

TOTAL CUT 2023-2027: $15 million

TOTAL DEFICITS: $40.3 million