Crunch-time for TasTAFE Promise of “No Disadvantage” to Workers

CPSU Lead Industrial Officer Natalie Jones breaks down the implications of TasTAFE’s transfer out of the Tasmanian State Service. PICTURE: TasTAFE Alanvale Campus, Launceston.

On 1 July 2022, TasTAFE transitioned out of the Tasmanian State Service to a not-for-profit government business. 

The expression, “no disadvantage for employees” has been used time and time again by the Tasmanian Government since significant changes to TasTAFE, Tasmania’s state-owned provider of education and training, were first announced.  

Workers at TasTAFE are having their employment conditions privatised, by being shifted out of the Tasmanian public sector industrial jurisdiction and into the FairWork jurisdiction.  

For current TasTAFE employees, this transition will be automatic with no choice to remain employed under the State Service Act 2000

With discussions continuing between the Unions and TasTAFE representatives, it’s crunch time to assess whether the Tasmanian Government has remained true to their undertaking that “no employee will be worse off.”

Fact Check:

Unless TasTAFE reverse their decisions on employment conditions, here are five areas where workers will currently be worse off as part of the move to Fair Work: 

  1. Industrial actions outside of a bargaining periods become ‘unprotected’. 
    In the Tasmanian State Service, Union members can take reasonable industrial action when and where they want, with notice provided by the Union to the Employer setting out the dispute, such as unsafe staffing conditions or workload issues. 

After 1 July, stringent rules will apply for industrial activity to be considered ‘protected’ and this will be limited to bargaining periods only. 

  1. Workers will lose their right to review employment actions in the Commission. 
    Tasmanian public sector workers have a right to review any action relating to their employment (other than termination) in the Tasmanian Industrial Commission to resolve employment issues or decisions made that may be procedurally unfair or unreasonable. 
    After 1 July, this entitlement to apply to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission will no longer exist. 
  1. Employee applications for Promotion without Advertising. 
    In the last wages agreement, CPSU members won new rights to make application for promotion without advertising to higher classification levels where they’d been performing higher duties contracts for 36 months and the relevant criteria could be met. 
    After 1 July, we understand this new entitlement will not be carried across. 
  1. Significant changes to how permanent employees can be terminated. 
    Currently, workers in the Tasmanian State Service can only have their employment relationship terminated on one of the following grounds:   
  • Where there has been a procedurally fair employment investigation into alleged misconduct consistent with Employment Direction 5 and the employee is found to have breached the Code of Conduct. 
  • Where an employee is considered surplus to the Agency requirements and a redeployment process is commenced only to find that there are no suitable duties in the entire Agency to assign the employee to. 
  • Where an employee is found at the conclusion of a procedurally fair employment investigation to be unable to efficiently and effectively perform the duties they have been assigned, or where the employee is found not to be performing their functions to the standard required through a formal Performance Improvement Plan. 
    After 1 July, permanent workers may have their employment relationship terminated at any time so long as the termination is fair and reasonable.  
  1. Selection Review Rights. 
    Tasmanian public sector workers have a right to undertake a selection review for a permanent job that they applied for but were ultimately unsuccessful. This review right provides employees with access to post-selection feedback and access to documents to see how they ranked against the successful applicant. This entitlement is a check and balance to ensure that employment decisions are based on merit and made without bias or discrimination. 
    After 1 July, this entitlement will no longer exist. 

Where to from here?

Further to the disadvantages outlined above, TasTAFE have also advised that they intend to place any new employees appointed from 1 July 2022 on a different set of employment conditions.  

This decision will see workers with the same jobs on different pay and conditions – a deliberate decision that works against the hard-fought principle of same job, same pay. 

Now that the transition has taken place and bargaining soon to commence, there’s never been a more important time to stand alongside CPSU members or join the CPSU as we fight for fairness in the TasTAFE transition process. Without CPSU members standing together now, hard won workplace entitlements may not be honoured in the new TasTAFE EBA.

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