TAFE teachers strike


By Chris Spindler SYDNEY — NSW TAFE teachers went on strike on February 21 and held a 2000-strong march and rally to condemn proposed cuts to technical education by the Carr Labor government. The rally heard how the proposed changes to TAFE would result in the sacking of 300 teaching staff, $15 million worth of TAFE funding being tendered out, and TAFE institutes competing with one another and with other educational institutions for funding. Education minister John Aquilina failed to give any guarantee that more TAFE funding would not be privatised in the future or that the Hilmer competition principles would not apply to TAFE. Geoff Turnbull, president of the TAFE Teachers Association, called the changes "privatisation by stealth". He pointed out that TAFE currently cannot compete with institutions which underpay employees. Competition between TAFE institutes is also likely to put downward pressure on wages and working conditions of staff. The possibility of separate enterprise bargaining agreements or contracts for teachers was wholly condemned by the meeting. A meeting later authorised any TAFE department to hold stop work meetings if any changes to current practice is attempted or if a workplace is visited by the TAFE managing director and Premier, Bob Carr, or by Aquilina. The Public Service Association, the Adult Migrant English Service and the National Teachers Federation sent messages of support.

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