TAFE teachers set to strike over cash cuts

TAFE teachers and administration staff will strike for 24 hours from Thursday in protest against the state government's funding cuts to the sector.

A document leaked to the media last week showed TAFE institutes were preparing for widespread fee increases and potential mergers and campus closures.

The National Tertiary Education Union Victoria TAFE secretary Colin Long said the scale of changes outlined in the document had prompted the plans for stop-work action. "We think it's serious enough that we have to take a stand," he said.

Dr Long said staff from dual-sector institutes, which offer TAFE and university courses, would also join the action.

"The cuts have clearly affected everyone in those institutions."

The state government has cut an estimated $290 million to the TAFE sector, which funds courses such as hospitality. That figure also includes "full service provider" funding that public institutes used for services, including libraries and disability support.

However, the government has consistently said it is investing an extra $1 billion over four years in training and areas of skills shortages.

The leaked document summarised TAFE institutes' business transition plans, which outlined their response to the funding changes.

The colleges submitted their transition plans to the TAFE Reform Panel earlier this month.

Thursday's stop-work action will be unprotected. Australian Education Union TAFE president Greg Barclay said protected action was only possible during a bargaining period.

He said TAFE workers from across the state were expected to stop work and travel to Melbourne for a rally at Treasury Gardens. "Yes it will be disruptive but it is nowhere near as disruptive as those transition plans to the TAFE system," he said.

More to come

b.preiss@theage.com.au

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