It’s two years, five months, two weeks and four days until the next Victorian election, and everywhere I turn there’s another unhappy union – last week the AEU lead teachers on a historic strike, and this weekend the CPSU closed state forests and parks as rangers enter their thirteenth month with an expired EBA. In comparison, the delay in a mental health EBA is almost nothing – it’s 88 days on from the acute public nurses’ EBA (which is still being ratified) and 224 days since their EBA expired. The process, of course, is complicated by the involvement of a second union, with not only different priorities (HACSU want the Agreement to cover all mental health employees, ANF want it to be specific to mental health nurses) but also distractions, because HACSU is under the umbrella of HSU, and therefore tangentially involved in the multiple enquiries into HSU and HSU East.*
At the same time, the impact of Premier Baillieu’s evisceration of TAFE funding continues to widen – OAM recipient Les Twentyman is not the first person to note that education is often the only way out of a cycle of poverty and crime, and that as the Baillieu government savagely reduces funding for the public vocational education sector, funding of jails has increased. Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre tweeted this evening that in Norway they believe a dollar spent on education saved $7 in the police arena.
*HACSU is not, to be clear, at all implicated in any wrongdoing or corruption charges, but their officials have had to give testimony etc, which makes it harder for them to be present at meetings with ANF and the government’s negotiators.