Rally in defence of sacked teachers
By John Nebauer
MELBOURNE — Around 160 people attended a rally on April 30 at the Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre to protest against the sacking of three teachers from the Victorian Certificate of Education/Communications Department at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT).
The three sacked, Ron Davis, Mark Wilson and Alison Thorne, are all active members of the Australian Education Union. Thorne is the sub-branch president.
Delia Maxwell, a teacher at NMIT, told the rally that the three teachers were part of a bans campaign to fight cuts to courses, in particular the decision to cut VCE daytime courses at Preston campus. Two other members of staff, including Maxwell, who were part of the campaign lost their permanent jobs and were offered casual work.
Thorne pointed out that TAFE teachers hadn't had a pay rise in five years, and the bans were part of a statewide campaign. The AEU passed a motion at the start of the campaign to take stop-work action if anyone was victimised.
Thorne said that the retrenchments are a part of the thrust towards forcing an increased workload onto TAFE teachers and replacing permanent staff with sessional staff.
NMIT has a history of targeting union activists. NMIT argued that the three teachers did not pass "merit selection" and that there was insufficient work available. However, advertisements for sessional teachers in the department appeared in the Age one Saturday after the sackings
The rally resolved to back a political and legal campaign. AEU sub-branch members voted to take action on Institute Open Day if a satisfactory outcome wasn't reached.