New TAFE agreement certified

On 5 January 2017, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission convened to consider TAFE Queensland’s application for certification of the two proposed certified agreements which were negotiated last year, one for educators and one for TAFE support staff.

QTU claims were developed following consultation with TAFE Executive, TAFE Council and the broader TAFE membership, and the Union is very pleased with the resulting agreement, particularly the fact that we have succeeded in retaining a separate agreement for educators, and that, in addition to wage increases consistent with state government policy, we have also secured additional salary adjustments as partial recompense for a pay increase denied during the Newman years.

The new agreement was a long time coming – the previous agreement was from 2012, and nominally expired in 2015. However the delay was worth it – we were able to avoid the sinister proposals from round one, such as the attack on non-attendance time (NAT) and a pay freeze, and in the intervening period we have worked with TAFE to modernise the award.

Deputy President Kaufman certified the two agreements, and we have since received confirmation of certification, which means the new agreement now applies.

Due to the operation of the Industrial Relations Act, certification of the new agreement also triggers the operation of the TAFE Queensland modern award. Both these documents are available on the QTU website, as are updated salary scales.

One of the most significant changes TAFE members should be aware of is the new provision that allows for team based working arrangements (TBWA) to alter some working conditions, in specific circumstances and with LCC oversight. An example is trades starting and finishing classes earlier in the day to better reflect industry practices. A joint statement and supporting documentation are currently being developed with TAFE Queensland to ensure members can utilise the TBWA provision appropriately.

Now that the terms of the agreement are set, we must get to work on ensuring that there isn’t distance between what should happen and what does happen. Now is our best chance to alter inappropriate practices that may have been tolerated in the past and to ensure that the terms apply as they are written. Industrial instruments are not aspirational – if you teach a theory class there shouldn’t be more than 28 students, a butchering class should have a ratio 7:1 or 8:2. You decide how you will use your NAT, but you do need to meet your preparation responsibilities. After two years on contract in the same role, TAFE should review your employment and consider permanency. Features such as these are meaningless if they are not enforced. If you’ve not already done so, please familiarise yourself with the new provisions (information is available on the QTU website) and take action if you believe there is a disconnect. The QTU stands ready, willing and able to assist you.

Kim Roy                                                                                                                         Assistant Secretary - Industrial/Research

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 1, 10 February 2017, p15