TAFE enterprise bargaining negotiations get under way

Bargaining towards a new certified agreement (and a payrise for TAFE teachers and tutors) has begun.

The first meeting of the single bargaining unit took place on 9 May. The current agreement expires on 31 July.

What does the Union want?

The QTU has lodged a log of claims which seeks wage rises that would ensure that salaries are commensurate with those of the highest paid teachers in the country.  The Union is also seeking a review of career structures/promotional pathways for TAFE educational staff and the establishment of pathways and supported study opportunities for non-degree-qualified teachers to progress through the salary barrier.  The Union will pursue accelerated progression arrangements for completion or part completion of an approved teaching qualification as an incentive for teachers to undertake formal study.  Accelerated progression allows a teacher to move immediately to a higher point on the salary scale.  Currently, teachers who complete their approved teaching qualification can only move along the salary scale in annual increments.

In light of recent developments, which will see TAFEs increasingly engaged in the delivery of higher qualifications, the Union is also keen to pursue agreement on a set of working conditions for teachers teaching in degree programs.

As a step in the right direction, the Union and the department have recently agreed to broaden the avenues by which a teacher can access an approved teaching qualification.  Of note is the capacity for TAFE educational staff to acquire a more relevant qualification, such as a degree in vocational education and training, and to undertake the required 50 hours of practicum in a TAFE setting.  The new policy can be found at http://education.qld.gov.au/strategic/eppr/hr/hrmpr051/index.html

The Union is also seeking establishment of an industry-wide mechanism for determining workload for teachers and tutors engaged in flexible, blended and online delivery, and other measures to address workload issues and to boost permanency.

What does the employer want?

While the department has not articulated its own log of claims and as yet has no instructions from government about the amount of the offer or the parameters for bargaining, the Union is aware from internal sources that it may seek to require TAFE educational staff to undertake additional hours of teaching (an additional four hours per week) in exchange for a pay rise.  Clearly this would significantly diminish the value of any increase, and for this reason the Union’s position is that any proposal to increase hours of work is not negotiable.

Currently the government’s position is for a 2.5 per cent wage offer for public servants, with scope for an extra 0.5 per cent to be paid for “productivity” improvements.

Should the Union be unable to come to agreement with the department before the current certified agreement expires, members may need to engage in industrial action to achieve an outcome.  TAFE educational employees can take protected action from 8 August (seven days after the expiry of the agreement).

Clearly, industrial action is always a last resort and TAFE members are encouraged to maximise lobbying efforts in order to avoid it.  The Union will be developing lobbying materials which you can use in meetings with local members of parliament and opposition members to garner support for an “offer” from government. 

Any offer will have to be fully funded and require no trade-offs in conditions.

Louise Comino
TAFE Industrial Officer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, p25