RELIEF staff were called in to ensure there were no interruptions to regular Advance TAFE classes on Thursday, with three local staff members attending a rally in Melbourne as part of a political protest against the state government’s cuts to the public TAFE system.
Advance TAFE chief executive Peter Heilbuth said all campuses remained open with all classes running as scheduled. Other student services such as library and canteen were also unchanged.
Relief staff were organised after three staff members confirmed their intention to attend the rally, arranged by the Australian Education Union’s TAFE4All consortium.
Acting Premier Peter Ryan appealed to TAFE staff on Wednesday to call off the strike and to let the process run its course.
However Australian Education Union Victoria branch president Mary Bluett said the issue was too important to ignore and the union was calling for the state government to reinstate the $300 million it has cut from the Victorian public TAFE system.
“The fight to preserve Victoria’s TAFE system has reached a crucial stage,” she said.
“TAFE transition plans leaked to media late last week reveal the greatest threat to the TAFE system Victoria has ever seen.
“Hundreds of courses will be cut and many campuses closed. Two thousand teachers will be sacked, not including contract or sessional teachers.
“Many institutes are warning of more redundancies next year because of the impact of fee increases of up to 600% for some courses.
“Some TAFEs are close to collapse and staff believe that this action is necessary to preserve the institutions they work for.”
Ms Bluett said the cuts would mean limited educational opportunities for up to 300,000 students, with many expected to drop out altogether as a result of significant fee increases.
“The Victorian public understands that the Baillieu government’s budget cuts are not in the interests of young people, the community, TAFE institutes or the Victorian economy,” she said.
“If the Baillieu government does not reverse its short-sighted policies they will deny a generation of young Victorians the chance to get the skills they need to be part of the modern workforce.
“Regional and rural Victoria have been especially hurt by these cuts.
“The strength of the Victorian economy is based on the skills of its workers.
“TAFE provides skills and training to hundreds of thousands of Victorians each year.
“As a result of these cuts, these numbers will fall and the Victorian economy will suffer.”