TAFE Teachers Association Wollongar campus president Brett Hunter and Far North Coast branch president Ian Newton at the stop work meeting on Tuesday.
TAFE Teachers Association Wollongar campus president Brett Hunter and Far North Coast branch president Ian Newton at the stop work meeting on Tuesday.

Strike looms over TAFE conditions

A group of about 30 North Coast TAFE teachers voted unanimously to “take all necessary action” to try and have an IRC decision overturned that would see them required to work up to 20 per cent more for a 1.5 per cent increase in pay.

The NSW Teachers Federation says the additional hours will therefore be paid at the equivalent of $3 to $3.60 per hour.

Stop work meetings were held all over NSW on Tuesday morning and the motion put before them also included a recommendation for further industrial action, including joint action with public school teachers if the dispute could not be satisfactorily resolved by November 21.

John Hughes from the NSW Teachers Federation told the meeting in Lismore that every school he had visited would be prepared to support TAFE teachers in a strike action, which is likely to be called in early December.

The dispute relates to a decision by the IRC on October 15 that the TAFE Teachers Association claims would result in sweeping changes to their working conditions, including the loss of long service leave entitlements when combined with annual leave, and being compelled to work anytime between 6am and 10pm, Monday to Saturday.

The ruling also means that staff would lose their professional discretion about how to spend their non-teaching hours. Instead, they would be directed by managers. They would be compelled to teach an extra 36 hours per year and work an extra five hours per week of “directed duties”.

They could also have their teaching load averaged over a year and then be compelled to teach additional excess hours for no additional pay.

President of the Far North Coast branch of the TAFE Teachers Association, Ian Newton, described it as “blatantly unfair” and accused the IRC of being stacked with political appointments.

He said it was worse than the worst elements of WorkChoices and the union has concerns that there will be a large number of TAFE teachers leaving the profession.

The NSW Teachers Federation has mounted a legal challenge to the IRC decision and are also asking Premier Nathan Rees and Education Minister Verity Firth to intervene.


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