Workers face a joyless Christmas

Up to 40 Federation Training staff members face unemployment this festive season, with the TAFE confirming it will not renew some expiring contracts.

Unions have speculated about 40 fixed-term and casual workers will be out of work this month, and have branded the timing of the redundancies as “insensitive”.

FedTraining managing director Jonathan Davis told The Express a number of contracts would end during December, but would not confirm how many.

“There is a number of staff whose contract comes to an end at the end of the year. This occurs every year as is part of normal business,” Mr Davis said.

“Some staff’s contracts were linked to particular projects which have ended.

“We are obviously not in a position to offer new contracts until we have student enrolment numbers.”

National Tertiary Education Union Victoria Division secretary Colin Long said the timing was “appalling”.

“Just before Christmas people are losing their jobs,” Mr Long said.

“Given the job losses about to occur at Hazelwood, the Valley can’t afford to lose more jobs like this.”

Mr Long said unions were suspicious the TAFE would reinstate the jobs early next year.

“We are concerned Federation Training is using this as a way to save money by not paying people over Christmas,” he said.

Mr Davis rejected the claim, saying it was common practice for contracts to expire at the end of the year.

During the festive season five of the TAFE’s executive employees including three based in Gippsland, will also be made redundant.

The managing director said the organisational restructure was about meeting State Government benchmarks.

Mr Davis said operational changes would increase student enrolment and improve “security of employment at the institution”.

He said three new roles would be created at the TAFE while relocating the executive team to the Latrobe Valley.

“Given that 10 of our 11 sites are in Gippsland and also given the challenges the Latrobe Valley is facing, I felt we needed an executive team focused on Gippsland,” Mr Davis said.

“In early 2017 Federation Training is hoping to have sufficient student enrolments to offer some additional permanent roles,” Mr Davis said.

He said all previous employees were able to reapply for positions, “but for a fair and transparent hiring process we need to advertise internally and externally”.