BY CHRISTOPHER PERKINS
WOLLONGONG — TAFE teachers and students have joined library staff in a battle to overturn cuts to library services at TAFE Illawarra — and the extra muscle is forcing management to concede some ground in a dispute which has ground on since September.
Members of the TAFE Teachers Association at Dapto College of TAFE met with management on August 13, threatening that, if the institute director did not restore the two days a week that had been cut from the library service at the college, they would start an industrial and public campaign, including suspending classes.
Earlier that day, 100 students and staff had staged a TAFETA-organised sit-in at the Dapto College library to protest the changes to operating hours.
Representatives of the Public Service Association, which covers library staff, met with management the following day. While management negotiators dismissed widening support for the unionists, they did concede that the library would return to its original five-day opening regime — on the condition that the funding for the extra two days comes from other parts of the Dapto college library's budget.
Unionists rejected the offer, saying that this would mean an open library which couldn't stock itself with books, videos or magazines.
This brought a further management climb-down: extra funding will now be available to keep the library functioning properly five days a week, but only until the end of the year.
PSA and management representatives are due to report back on the dispute to the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission on August 22.