Present tense: Deal done at Taylors College

The Boom continues – but for how long?

International student numbers are surging, with more than 700,000 such students living in Australia as of February. Enrolments continue to be healthy, with commencements up by 67 per cent (over 50,000 students) on this time last year. Nearly 6000 more students have enrolled than in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019.

But it could be that we are currently at the top of the wave. Late last year, the federal government announced changes to the student visa regime, and anecdotal evidence suggests this is already having an effect on projected enrolments. Meanwhile, English Australia figures show a fall of 68 per cent in ELICOS-only visa grants in December 2023.

All that said, the industry looks to be in rude health at the moment, so there’s never been a better time to join the union that covers the private post-secondary college sector, the IEU. Encourage your colleagues to join – there really is safety in numbers!

Taylors College

Your union has recently agreed to a settlement with Taylors College, bringing to a close a long-running and contentious negotiation. The previous agreement at the college expired in early 2022, and the college gave an administrative pay rise of 2.5% at the time. It then took several months to get them to the bargaining table, with discussions not starting until November.

The college then put forward several proposals which were unacceptable to members, and negotiations settled into something of an uneasy impasse. Matters were further delayed when Navitas bought out the college from Study Group in May 2023.

Towards the end of last year, members felt that they had had enough, and authorised a range of industrial actions via a Protected Action Ballot Order. This move appeared to make the employer soften their stance on several matters, and the parties were finally able to agree to terms in February.

The new agreement includes several benefits for members, including pay rises of 5% from July 2023, and 4% from July 2024, a lump sum payment worth about $1500-$2500 for most teachers, greater regulation around work during non-term times, and greater flexibility around work start times.

These negotiations were both difficult and protracted, but members held firm and were able to extract significant concessions from management to arrive at an acceptable settlement. Such agreements are only possible with the help of a strong, active, and growing IEU membership.

From the International Desk

Teachers at British Council (BC) schools in Taiwan have agreed to unionise and have put forward a list of demands. High on that list is a decent pay rise and given that wages have reportedly not risen at BC schools in Taiwan for 20 years, such an increase is well past due. Teachers are also looking at greater regulation around workloads, and for work out of regular hours, such as weekends and evenings.

In this column last year, I reported on similar action taken by BC teachers in Portugal, and it’s clear that the long-standing flat wages for ELICOS teachers the world over are no longer being tolerated by teachers, and they are doing something about it. This is no small thing in an industry which has traditionally been un-unionised.

The best way to push forward on matters like these is, of course, to join your union. The Fair Work Act here in Australia includes several provisions to help workers get a better deal. So, join your union today and find out how!

Kendall Warren