Almost 2000 Victorian TAFE teachers voted on November 25 to continue their industrial campaign for a new enterprise agreement, which will include a further stop-work meeting in February 2009. Teachers from regional centres were joined at the meeting by metropolitan TAFE colleagues.
Since the last stop-work meeting on August 20, the teachers have won significant support from previously reluctant TAFE employers for better wages and working conditions.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) is negotiating a single agreement across the sector. The claims include a reduction in sessional teacher positions, so as to create more full-time positions, and a 10% annual pay-rise for each of the three years during the life of the agreement.
Mary Bluett, the Victorian AEU branch president, told the meeting that Victorian teachers have not had a pay increase since September 2006 and are the lowest paid nationally. The meeting heard reports that teachers were leaving the sector in droves.
Gillian Robertson, AEU vice president of the TAFE and Adult Provision Sector, explained that the lack of progress in the negotiations cannot be blamed on TAFE directors anymore but is largely due to the refusal of the state government to adequately fund the sector. Teachers are demanding the government close the salary gap between TAFE teachers and school teachers.
The stop-work meeting finished with a vibrant march to Parliament House.