The State School Teachers’ Union in WA is outraged that one of its members was threatened with disciplinary action if she gave evidence to a Senate inquiry into the TAFE system.
The member received a letter from her employer, training provider Polytechnic West, warning her that she did not have permission to give evidence at the inquiry.
The letter, which was written on a WA Government letterhead, stated: “Should you choose to appear at the inquiry, you are not authorised to give evidence on any information that you have obtained during your employment including specific issues relating to Polytechnic West, government policy or any official information”.
The letter also said that if the woman was to provide evidence that contained any official information, she may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
“We are outraged that one of our members has been threatened and intimidated in this way by her employer,” said SSTUWA President Pat Byrne.
“We have received legal advice that it is unlawful for an employer to try and prevent an employee from giving evidence to a Senate inquiry and it is also unlawful to threaten them with disciplinary action if they do so.”
Ms Byrne said the member was not the only TAFE employee to be warned against giving information to the inquiry.
“This appears to us to be the State Government trying to silence people in order to avoid criticism over the damaging changes that have been made to the TAFE system,” she said.
“The government has decimated TAFE and now it is doing what it can to avoid any scrutiny over its decisions.”
Ms Byrne said the Union would defend its member against any attempt by the employer to initiate disciplinary proceedings.
Friday 12th April 2014