By Anna Patty
Hundreds of TAFE workers face job losses or having to reapply for positions under a statewide restructure.
Campuses in Sydney’s south-west and west are bracing for the worst of feared job cuts after TAFE NSW released documents that show a net loss of 678 positions.
TAFE NSW says staff will be given an opportunity to reapply for new jobs, but the Community Public Sector Union of NSW says the documents suggest up to 92 jobs will go in south-west Sydney, 42 in western Sydney and more than 100 from the metropolitan area.
CPSU general secretary Stewart Little said many of the staff work with students in front-line support roles.
“The job cuts include people who work directly with students, including student advisors, customer support officers, field officers, VET fee help coordinators, help desk operators, marketing and promotions support officers,” he said.
“Workers who maintain the campuses are also going, including gardeners, caretakers, facilities officers, tradespersons, tool store persons, security officers, asset and fleet control managers, and site services assistants.
“The union will be fighting these job cuts at every stage. TAFE NSW is a vital piece of infrastructure that must remain in public hands, not dismantled for private operators.”
A spokeswoman for TAFE NSW said the 678 positions identified represented jobs to be lost, redefined, no longer required or ones which employees could apply for.
“It is expected that the final structures will see a net reduction of fewer than 50 jobs across the organisation,” she said. “These are not front-line jobs. There are no teaching positions, or roles that support students in the classroom or with their studies in these proposed changes.”
The spokeswoman said the CPSU had misunderstood the information provided to staff, “confusing role changes for job losses”.
“TAFE NSW is taking steps to ensure no student is disadvantaged by these changes,” she said.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said job losses would put more stress on already stretched TAFE teaching staff.
“In recent times governments have attempted to create this narrative about back office staff, suggesting they are not important for the efficient delivery of services,” he said. “Ultimately the work done by back office staff will need to be done, putting more stress on teaching staff.”
The TAFE NSW spokeswoman said its enterprise agreements with staff required it to consult with those affected to seek their input and feedback on proposed changes.
“The outcome of the consultation will determine the final structure, and will help inform the location of any roles that will change as part of this process,” she said.
Mr Little said information released by TAFE suggested up to 10 per cent of educational support jobs would be lost.
He said staff would have to reapply for their jobs and it appeared there would be none for more than 80 security staff including those in caretaker roles.
“We are basing that analysis on the information that TAFE has provided us with,” he said. “If this is only 50 jobs and not 678 positions as their documents suggest, then they need to provide us with the evidence of that,” he said.
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Anna Patty is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald with a focus on higher education. She is a former Workplace Editor, Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter.