NORTH Coast TAFE has rejected union claims it plans to lay off "more than 200 staff before Christmas" but has conceded that it is "changing" 197 jobs.
The comments are the latest salvo in an ongoing battle over the future of the state's premiere vocational educator, following sweeping State Government policy changes.
Staff were reportedly told about the changes this month via a series of video conferences in which they were told their jobs would be "deleted" and to refer to a "change paper" online for more details.
The roles affected include customer service, teaching and learning officers, student association officers, technical assistants, and administration staff.
Direct teaching roles have not been impacted.
If they're lucky enough to get one of the positions, competing with everybody else in the community, they'll be at substantially lower pay rates for the same work
- Local TAFE worker
Director of North Coast Institute of TAFE, Elizabeth McGregor, said in a statement the restructure affected 197 roles, but "our focus through this process is not to lose jobs,
but rather change them to position us for the future".
Ms McGregor said there would be an increase in permanent full-time and long-term contracts from 87 to 157, plus 40 short-term contracts.
Call centres at Kingscliff and Port Macquarie are also in the planning to headquarter administration and customer service staff off-campus.
Are TAFE colleges being properly resourced?
This poll ended on 27 August 2015.
Their resourcing is fine. The government's not made of money you know!
They are under-resourced, but no more so that state schools or universities.
Yes they are under-resourced and it's just getting worse. TAFEs are important and they need to be looked after.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"This would actually increase the number of full-time, long-term roles," Ms McGregor said.
But the Public Service Association, has slammed the changes, saying all the new jobs involved lower pay and less job security.
A local staff member who did not wished to be named said up to 60 jobs had been "deleted" across the Richmond Valley's four TAFE campuses with only 30 new ones made available.
"If they're lucky enough to get one of the positions, competing with everybody else in the community, they'll be at substantially lower pay rates for the same work," she said.
"The most distressing thing is what this is going to mean to our community.
"Students are not going to get the face to face service and support from their local TAFE campus, which has been provided for years. It's a loss of service to students."
Union organiser and former TAFE employee Margaret Fullick said the changes had "upset a lot of people who went home knowing they would have to apply to get a job back".
"Our members are saying they are being blackmailed into doing a job at a lower rate," she said.
The union disaffection follows a paradigm shift in TAFE policy by the NSW Government which allows private colleges to compete for funding directly with TAFE, a model the Public Service Association claims has spectacularly failed in Victoria and Queensland.
Ms Fullick labelled it "essentially the privatisation of vocational education", adding it was a "mechanism for private providers of any quality to get their hands on state government funding".
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.