TAFE teachers take industrial action

TAFE teachers from across Gippsland will undertake their first stop work today to protest the $16 million cut to local TAFEs in a rally in Melbourne.

As of yesterday morning, it was unknown how many teachers would participate in the rally, but Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE Australian Education Union sub-branch president Phil Smith said a bus with a capacity of up to 50 people would run from Bairnsdale to Warragul to pick up members.

“The rally will be to raise awareness of the TAFE funding cuts, and the unions are committed to take this issue up to the next state election,” Mr Smith said.

“We hope to make it an election issue, and we hope the policies will change; the Nationals need to be a bit worried about this because (the TAFE issue) has a huge impact on the local communities.”

Mr Smith said teachers were trying to arrange classes with minimal disruptions to students in the process of completing assessments and exams.

He confirmed the industrial action was not protected, and staff participating in the rally would likely lose a day’s pay.

GippsTAFE chief executive Peter Whitley said the institution was aware of the rally and industrial action and indicated their “tacit support for (staff members)”.

“We won’t be stopping anyone, but we will not necessarily be paying their salary on the day,” Dr Whitley said.

“Staff may like to take all action to ensure classes are not cancelled; we believe they may simply reorganise their work week so there is minimal effect on individuals.”

He said he understood the industrial action was being undertaken to demonstrate and reinforce to the State Government how the $300 million TAFE cuts announced in the recent budget were “hitting the average person on the street”.