TAFE SA – Outcome of Dispute in The South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) – Education Division and Expressions of Interest for Targeted Voluntary Separation Packages (TVSPs)

03 October 2017

As reported in the Public Service Association’s (PSA) earlier Information Update to members on 7 September 2017, the PSA had received contact from members concerned that TAFE SA was attempting to reduce positions in a manner inconsistent with SA Government requirements in the absence of a Review/Restructure, and in the absence of any formal consultation. Essentially, TAFE SA was conducting a covert Review/Restructure without ensuring that full and genuine consultation occurs. In addition, there were concerns that the invitation for staff to express interest in TVSPs outside of a Review/Restructure was in direct conflict with the SA Government’s TVSP processes.

The PSA attempted to resolve the matter with TAFE SA but did not receive a response from our letter to the Chief Executive of TAFE SA. As a result of this inaction the PSA lodged a notification of dispute in SAET – formerly the Industrial Relations Commission of SA. The PSA had sought that the matter be listed for as soon as possible given that TAFE SA had not responded and any further progression in absence of required processes may jeopardise outcomes for members.

The matter was heard on 14 September 2017 before Commissioner McMahon. PSA TAFE SA Organiser attended, accompanied by TAFE SA PSA Worksite Representatives.

The PSA is aware that PSA members have not received any update until now, however in respecting the outcomes of the Tribunal we have been awaiting the issuing of a communication from TAFE SA to staff as per the outcomes below. This communication was issued as part of the TDay on 29 September 2017.

The PSA's concerns were upheld in SAET, with it being noted that it appeared that correct processes were not followed and given TAFE SA's usually strong consultation and change processes, it was clear that staff could be confused by the processes used in this instance. TAFE SA advised that their invitation for staff to express interest in the offer of a TVSP was actually only a workforce planning process and agreed that TVSP's could only be offered in a Review or Restructure, as per their own Consultation and Change Policy.

The following outcomes were agreed:

  •  That TAFE SA were to release a communication to staff advising that the invitation for staff to express interest in the offer of a TVSP was actually only part of workforce planning, and that they would follow agreed industrial processes for any Reviews/Restructures;
  •  That this communication was to be reviewed by the PSA prior to release;
  •  That TAFE SA were to communicate with each individual who had expressed interest regarding what this meant for them; and
  •  That TAFE SA were to communicate with staff who had attended a staff meeting on 30 August 2017 to provide further clarity regarding this process.

The PSA welcome these outcomes and will continue to monitor with members to ensure that TAFE SA adhere to agreed industrial processes and documents in future.