TasTAFE Attempts to Undercut Workplace Conditions

Your union is watching closely after TasTAFE Management signaled it will attempt to appeal a major union-led victory for your colleagues’ pay and conditions. It’s a wake up call as we launch into negotiations for the inaugural TasTAFE Non-Teaching Staff Agreement.  

Last month, unions took TasTAFE to the Fair Work Commission over attempts to create a ‘two-tiered’ system of conditions, which saw newly hired staff working longer hours and on worse conditions than existing staff.   

Prior to the transfer from the State Service to Fair Work, TasTAFE promised TasTAFE workers, the community, and legislators that workers would experience no disadvantage as a result of the transfer. Legally they were forced to match State Service pay and conditions (including those secured in PSUWA bargaining) via copied state instruments, until new Agreements could be negotiated and registered. 

But TasTAFE quickly made clear it had no such plans for newly hired workers, who had found themselves relegated to “default” Fair Work Awards, such as the Miscellaneous Award 2020 and the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2020, which represent the “bare minimum” for the sector.  

Unions took TasTAFE to court, arguing (successfully) to the Fair Work Commission that having two classes of workers in the same workplace on vastly different conditions would be contrary to the public interest. Members suspect this is part of TasTAFE’s strategy to attempt to force through new Agreements that would wind back hard-fought conditions secured over decades in the Tasmanian State Service Award.   

You can’t make this up: TasTAFE argued that preventing them from hiring new staff that undercut their colleagues conditions was inimical to the success of the transition, a statement which speaks volumes about its plans for the future of your pay and conditions. 

There it is laid bare, how TasTAFE plans to secure “productivity” and “flexibility” as a business. Not working smarter – but forcing staff to work long hours for no extra pay. And in the Fair Work system, the odds are in their favour. All it takes is 50% of your colleagues to agree to an offer that could see your or your colleagues worse off, and there’s nothing unions can do to intervene. That means unless we all work together, we all lose.   

Your best and only protection is to join your union, get actively involved and help us secure the best possible Agreement for TasTAFE workers. Share this story with your colleagues and, if you’ve yet to join the CPSU, become a member today at https://www.cpsu.com.au/join/ 

Your CPSU is also a federal union – with sister branches representing workers in our public VET providers across the country. Nationally we are advocating for improvements in how working rights are protected for workers who are forcibly transferred out of their State Service or otherwise affected by privatisation, corporatisation or outsourcing.  

Unions are leading a worldwide push against the failed politics of austerity and privatisation. The newly elected NSW Government will soon change the state’s constitution to protect against privatisation. Tasmania should do the same. We’ll continue our campaign to Keep it Ours – keeping the services our communities rely on in public hands.  

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