Present Tense

Improving standards across the sector

Industry VET Stakeholder Committee

In late September, the Federal Government announced the formation of an Industry VET Stakeholder Committee, an advisory body made up of employer groups in the vocational education sector to assist with the implementation of the government’s reform agenda announced in the April Budget.

The government has indicated that improving the VET sector is a priority, and a big part of their plans to create 1.25 million jobs over the coming term of government. It is expected that the committee will meet monthly, in a bid to pinpoint skills shortages and other issues, and how best to respond to these challenges.

The Committee, created by Employment Minister Michaela Cash, is entirely made up of employer representatives, including those from “business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and not-for-profit providers”.

Observant readers will note that there is no place for unions, or any other body that might represent the interests of employees in the sector – something to be expected of a government that has little interest in the rights of working people.

Agreements update

Your Union is seeking to improve standards across the post secondary education sector, and a big part of these efforts is through enterprise bargaining. In recent months, your Union has finalised an agreement at UNSW Global, the pathways college of UNSW.

This agreement (negotiated alongside the NTEU) includes several improvements for members, including pay rises of 2% per annum (along with ‘uplift payments’ in 2020 and 2021, amounting to roughly a further 1% for most teachers), more flexible arrangements for off-site work, a sizeable increase in permanent jobs, and improved provisions for additional leave.

Your Union is also currently negotiating with several other colleges, including Navitas English Services, Navitas English ACT, Embassy English, SELC, and WSU The College. The Fair Work Act includes provisions around ‘good faith bargaining’, under which an employer can be compelled to bargain where it can be demonstrated that a majority of staff (or section of staff, such as teachers), want that to happen. To find out how this might work at your college, contact the IEU.

Personal leave

In August, the Federal Court handed down a decision around the accrual of personal leave (sometimes called sick leave), which basically states that such leave must be granted in full days, and not in hourly increments, which is how most payroll systems tend to calculate it.

The relevant case was specifically about shift workers who normally work shifts greater than the standard 7.6 hours per day – if a worker normally works, say, a 12-hour shift, then one of the gazetted 10 personal leave days is worth 12 hours. Where this is most relevant to employees in the post secondary sector is that part time employees are still entitled to the full 10 days of leave, and not just a pro rata amount as is commonly the case (note that personal leave does not normally apply to casual employees).

If you would like further information about how this might affect you, contact your Union on

Kendall Warren