Time you got to know the new TAFE award and agreement

The only constant in TAFE and vocational education is change, and this remains an undeniable truth in 2017.

With the ratification of the new certified agreement (www.qtu.asn.au/tafe-ca-2016), the new TAFE award is also enlivened (www.qtu.asn.au/tafe-award-2016), and these two documents set down for us all a new set of rules for the workplace.

Although many conditions haven’t changed, the documents have and members must familiarise themselves with them. And yes, I know it sounds like a remedy for insomnia, but the award and certified agreement set the boundaries within which we work. They describe the culture and the expectations of our workplace.

That’s what law does. The law sets out for us the expectations of conduct in our culture and describes our relations with the rest of our society. And the award and the agreement are now law. So we need to get our heads around the “road rules” governing TAFE employment conditions. We need to understand those expectations and work together on ensuring that everyone drives on the left hand side of the road. We all need to adhere to the rules.

Over the course of the next few months, the QTU will conduct presentations on what has changed and what conditions have been reinforced.

We will also act to ensure that consultation regarding organisational change is undertaken in a timely fashion. The clauses regarding consultation in the new EB were dealt with extensively during the bargaining process. The QTU will act with its sibling unions to ensure that true consultation is undertaken and that members’ views are considered when the organisation makes significant decisions that affect members’ employment.

For our members employed at Central Queensland University, the QTU/AEUQ remains committed to ensuring a separate agreement for VET educators which provides parity with the rest of the public provider in terms of pay and conditions. We maintain that VET educators, whether employed in a TAFE or in a merged entity, are professionals distinct from yet no less than educators in schools or universities. Vocational teachers are different but as accomplished in their distinct field as academics, having to maintain both vocational and professional competency and currency.

Of the three education sectors, vocational education has suffered real and significant funding cuts over the last decade as schools and university funding have grown. Misguided market polices have ensured that billions have been squandered in subsidising cut-rate private delivery of now-discredited qualifications.

The public provider has continued to stand as a bastion of quality despite indignities and financial emasculation, and that’s because of the commitment and professionalism of the TAFE teacher. Whether employed in a TAFE or in a dual sector university, that commitment and professionalism must be recognised and rewarded.

The QTU/AEUQ will fight to ensure that, regardless of the changes the system brings, TAFE teachers are given the respect they are due as professionals.

David Terauds                                                                                                             TAFE Organiser 

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 2, 10 March 2017, p23