Protestors at Grafton TAFE earlier this year.
Protestors at Grafton TAFE earlier this year. Adam Hourigan

North Coast TAFE slashes more than 200 jobs

MORE than 200 TAFE staff, including part-time and full-time administration and support workers, have been told their jobs have been "deleted" and they will be put off before Christmas.

The NSW Public Service Association, which represents the staff, says the savage cuts follow the disastrous implementation of a new computer system across NSW, that had botched enrolments.

Staff are being cut from 16 local colleges along the North Coast. It is unknown the number to be slashed from Grafton and Maclean campuses at this stage. 

PSA Acting General Secretary Steve Turner said North Coast TAFE Management had failed to meet staff and community expectations and was now sacking the local colleges' lowest paid workers.

"To add insult to injury, staff believe the Institute Director will receive a substantial bonus for reducing numbers," Mr Turner said.

"Local people are losing their jobs and the loss of those jobs will hurt local economies."

Staff said North Coast Institute of TAFE director Elizabeth McGregor told them by video conference their jobs were being "deleted."

Some jobs will be replaced by temporary contracts at call centres at Kingscliff and Port Macquarie on much lower rates of pay.

There will be a few staff remaining at local colleges, but they will be forced to take pay cuts of up to 30% to keep a job.

"We are absolutely gutted," one worker said.

"We are the ones trying to hold the organization together at the coalface while management fails to manage it."

"We have very specific skills built up over many years which management says it doesn't require any more," one worker said.

Mr Turner said TAFE students would suffer.

"Students will no longer be able to deal with college staff face-to-face to make course enquiries, pay fees or enquire about progress," he said.

"Like so many other users of taxpayer-funded services, TAFE students will now have to queue on the phone to speak to someone at a call centre."

PSA TAFE organizer Shane Jobberns said it was a shortsighted measure that threatens the viability of the region.

"Cuts to education in this region further isolate young people from employment and training opportunities."

North Coast TAFE management has spent large sums of money employing consultants and has struggled to implement the new State Government Smart & Skilled reforms.

Also affected will be student associations, disability services, support staff, health and safety provisions and on-campus security.

It remains to be seen whether these call centres will eventually be located in India or the Philippines.

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