TAFE workers ‘beyond angry’ over planned budget cuts

Bendigo TAFE’s Charleston Campus librarian Mike Todd will pack up the books for the final time today.

The library is set to merge with the TAFE’s city library, as widespread budget cuts force the regional training provider to close campuses and shed at least 100 staff.

At yesterday’s Australian Education Union rally against proposed cuts to the sector, Mr Todd was among hundreds of staff uncertain of their future.

He said the mood among the stop-work strike at Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens was “beyond angry”.

“It’s got to the stage now where it’s devastating vocational education and damaging lives,” he said. “A lot of people were surprised by how deep these cuts were.”

With about 50 representatives from Bendigo TAFE travelling to the rally, Mr Todd said the impact of the cuts was already beginning to take hold locally. 

“Management have told us that at Bendigo TAFE alone there will be between 100 and 120 jobs go for the rest of the year,” he said.

At the Charleston Campus library, the 2.5 full-time positions have been scaled back to part-time and Mr Todd said there was no guarantee any of them would be employed next year.

“There’ll be another substantial cull very soon,” he said. “The cuts this month are likely to be the most substantial so far.” 

Bendigo TAFE chief executive officer Maria Simpson said she couldn’t comment on the exact transition process of campus closures or job cuts. 

She said she appreciated the opportunity for workers to express their views at yesterday’s rally.

“My role is to ensure we continue to meet our commitments to all our students and classes continue wherever possible and that Bendigo TAFE remains viable and valued over the long term,” she said.

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