Local TAFE teachers protest larger workload proposed in new EBA

Stress: Federation University TAFE teacher Katrina Kavanagh at a protest outside MP Sharon Knight's office. AEU Victoria is calling on the state government to reconsider the proposed EBA. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Stress: Federation University TAFE teacher Katrina Kavanagh at a protest outside MP Sharon Knight's office. AEU Victoria is calling on the state government to reconsider the proposed EBA. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Local TAFE teachers rallied against proposed changes to their enterprise bargaining agreement outside MP Sharon Knight’s office yesterday. 

The protest, led by led by Australian Education Union Victoria, called on the state government to alter the proposed EBA, which would increase the class-facing time of teachers by 20 per cent. 

Federation University TAFE community services teacher Katrina Kavanagh said increasing class-facing time would make continuing to teach at a high standard “an impossible task”. 

“As TAFE teachers, we’ve very committed, and we want the best for our students,” she said.

“It means we’re working more at home to fulfill the requirements of providing the best learning opportunities.

“If the changes happen, people will start to focus not so much on the quality of their teaching, they’ll just do the job as best they can in the time they have. 

“It’s the students and their education which will suffer.

“I’m already seeing a huge impact on staff well-being, people are leaving the industry and people are going on stress leave more.”

The state government’s Victorian Training Market Report: Half Year 2017 found apprentice commencements between January and June 2017 was up 8.2 per cent, compared with the same time period in 2016. 

A government spokesperson said that tens of thousands of Victorians can now access the skills they need to gain employment due to the state government reopening TAFE campuses. 

“We value the hard work of every single TAFE teacher and we want to see these important negotiations continue in good faith,” he said. 

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AEU Victoria released the annual State of Our TAFEs report on December 1, which surveyed 495 TAFE teachers in the state. 

More than 75 per cent of those surveyed reported an increase in work-related stress, with 75 per cent having considered leaving their job in the last 12 months

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace said any an increase in student-facing hours would mean less time for classroom preparation. 

“TAFE teachers will be doing more teaching, but have less time for prep and assessment of students,” she said.  

“We found that teachers are working on average around seven hours of unpaid over time per week. We’ve got teachers who are already under pressure and it is compromising their ability to support students. 

“As industry is changing, people need to re-train, and in particular regional communities rely on TAFE for this. 

“These training institutions are held in high regard by regional communities, and are a vital part of the education system for skills and training, leading to youth who are able to get jobs.”