Victorian TAFE teachers voted on July 18 to take 24-hour strike action on August 20 in support of better pay and conditions after negotiations with the Victorian TAFE Association stalled.
The association wants separate agreements with each TAFE institution, which the Australian Education Union has rejected. The AEU wants a single agreement across the sector and served its log of claims, including a 10% annual pay rise for each of the three years during the life of the agreement, to the TAFE Association last August. The demands include a pay claim of $75 per hour and job security improvements for casual teachers.
Victorian TAFE teachers are employed directly by TAFE colleges, and not by the state government.
On July 18, Victorian AEU president Mary Bluett blamed the state Labor government for underfunding the TAFE sector for 10 years and refusing to help resolve the current dispute with the TAFE Association.
The August 5 Hobson Bay quotes TAFE Association executive director David Williams as saying he agrees with a teachers' pay rise, but state government-imposed conditions prevent the association from delivering annual pay rises above 3.25% without imposing conditions that boost productivity.
According to the AEU, Victoria has the most under-funded TAFE system in Australia and its TAFE teachers are the lowest paid, earning $21,000 a year less than their NSW counterparts and $13,000 less than Victorian school teachers.
Even though student enrolments are growing, three out of five TAFE teachers are employed on a casual basis, without holiday and sick-leave entitlements and no job security.
A recent survey of 1872 Victorian TAFE teachers conducted by the AEU revealed low morale, with 75% of teachers surveyed considering quitting due to low pay, a high workload and overcrowded class rooms.
[For more information on the dispute and strike action, visit http://www.aeuvic.asn.au/tafe/.]