Victoria’s peak outdoor education, recreational and tourism industry bodies are encouraging the AEU and the state government to urgently sort out their EBA dispute.
The Australian Camps Association, Bus Association Victoria and Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) are extremely concerned about the detrimental effect that the ongoing dispute is having on the viability of small Victorian family businesses that provide services required for regular student excursions, tours and camps. Their members are reporting that schools have either cancelled or not booked these services for 2013 as a result of the AEU work bans relating to school activities outside of normal school hours.
As part of the dispute, the AEU has banned their members from planning, organising and booking any activities to take place in 2013, including camps and excursions, which would involve members in schools working more than the 38 hours in any week.
Australian Camps Association CEO David Petherick says that “Whist we respect the rights of both the AEU and the government in this dispute and we recognise that industrial disputes will occur from time to time, we are extremely disappointed that camps and associated businesses such as bus and adventure tourism operators, who are innocent third parties, have been dragged into this dispute. It is also disturbing that very significant numbers of students now seem likely to miss out on valuable camp and outdoor education programs in the coming weeks and perhaps months.
“We are also becoming increasingly alarmed at the lack of progress being made by both parties to the dispute and the apparent lack of any sense of urgency by either party to get this matter resolved. It is my understanding that the parties have not undertaken any formal negotiations since the teachers walked out of negotiations about two months ago. It is not acceptable that thousands of students will miss out on a camp and camp operators are now
likely to be put under extreme financial pressure over the next couple of weeks while the parties to the dispute stand on the sidelines and blame each other for the lack of progress. It is well and truly time for them to get back in a room and to stay there until they can negotiate a sensible outcome to this dispute.”
Bus Association Victoria CEO, Chris Lowe says that one tour bus operator had reported to him that approximately 40, five-day-long school tours, regularly booked in Term 1 were at risk of being cancelled or not booked. “One operator stands to lose approximately $250,000 of regular Term 1 revenue as a direct result of this ongoing dispute. Jobs are at risk. This dispute is having a negative flow on affect through the wider economy and we don’t think this has been considered. We all know teachers do a lot of work outside school hours so let’s not try and reinvent the nature of the teaching profession and sort this out.”
VTIC Chief Executive, Dianne Smith says, “A significant component of the tourism industry relies on the education market for its success and sustainability. This extends not only to tour operators, but the attractions and the towns that these are within as well. If it becomes unsustainable, the visitor experiences will be compromised and this will have a greater effect on the industry as a whole, and on our reputation interstate, nationally and internationally.”
The industry groups highlighted that in addition to the negative economic outcome, Victorian children also face being denied the education experience derived from school camps and their related extracurricular activities. This outcome is an extremely sad indictment on the issues that are being prioritised by the leaders of the disputing parties.