5 Sept 2022
The NSW Teachers Federation, Community and Public Sector Union, Hunter Workers and affiliated unions, local MPs, TAFE staff and students will gather outside the front gates of Newcastle College, Maitland Road between 11:00am and 1:00pm on Tuesday 6th September to celebrate National TAFE Day.
The original plan for National TAFE Day, approved by the TAFE Managing Director Stephen Brady, was for the celebrations to be held inside the campus grounds, but a last-minute change of mind from TAFE senior management will see teachers, TAFE administrative and support staff, students and union members “locked out” of the college grounds for the event. TAFE management have cited a “current difficult industrial relations landscape” for the decision.
The NSW Teachers Federation and TAFE are currently in negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement and recently an offer by management was resoundingly voted down in a state-wide ballot put to staff covered under the Agreement.
The Teachers Federation have now moved to a Protected Action Ballot, which closes on Thursday, “in order to attempt to finalise a new Enterprise Agreement that delivers salary justice and an improvement to employment conditions for teachers”, according to NSW Teachers Federation Organiser, Annette Bennett.
Ms Bennett said it was “disappointing that TAFE senior management have now chosen to play politics over National TAFE DAY”.
“National TAFE Day celebrations have traditionally enjoyed collaborative support between TAFE management and the union, with events held each year in college grounds across NSW. It provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the public TAFE system, which has provided high quality educational opportunities for individuals, communities and employers for over 130 years”, Ms Bennett said.
Community and Public Sector Union Organiser, Shane Jobberns acknowledged the importance of National TAFE Day as an “chance to recognise the vital role TAFE plays in our regional and rural towns across the Hunter”.
“TAFE not only provides educational opportunities for students but provides the ‘wrap around’ services that support students through their learning and which sets TAFE apart from the private for-profit training providers.
Hunter Workers Secretary, Leigh Shears praised the work of the public education provider, saying that “many Hunter Workers delegates across the Hunter got the start in their chosen vocation through TAFE”.
“Governments must start to view TAFE as an investment, rather than a cost. It’s an investment in the future; a future highly skilled, job-ready workforce, and that has to be good for the economy of the Hunter”, Mr Shears said.