Hot under the collar about dress code

Glenn Cordingley, Jakeb Waddell andShannon BeattieBroome Advertiser
North Regional TAFE Broome campus.
Camera IconNorth Regional TAFE Broome campus. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

Hundreds of apprentices have been told not to bother turning up to their TAFE courses in the Pilbara and Kimberley unless they wear long trousers and long-sleeve shirts at the hottest time of the year.

The North Regional TAFE executive management team has notified more than 2000 students they would be sent home if they were not wearing the stipulated clothing from now on.

The letters to them and their bosses said the personal protective equipment would need to be supplied at the student’s own cost, “unless otherwise specified in the course requirements”.

The move has sparked outcry from a Broome mechanical garage owner, who did not want to be named and has four apprentices attending the local TAFE campus.

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He said there was no such requirement in their normal workplace because it was simply too hot and humid.

“This fails to take into account the hot weather we experience here and wearing long trousers and shirts is not an industry requirement,” he said.

“We supply our apprentices with shorts and company emblazoned T-shirts. “The poor apprentices on almost minimum wage now are going to have to fork out for this and they would probably need two or three pairs because they are sent to TAFE on block release for a week at a time.”

He said he was unaware of any accidents relating to shorts and short-sleeve shirts in any local mechanical workshop.

“As far as I am concerned, there is more chance of a long-sleeve shirt flapping about getting caught in machinery,” he said. “What measures has TAFE undertaken to ensure my apprentices do not suffer from dehydration or heat-related damage as a result of this?”

Apprentices from Hunter Mechanical in Karratha attend the South Metropolitan TAFE in Perth where they are not required to meet the same dress conditions as the North West.

Owner Jason Hunter said his apprentices were required to wear long work pants and work boots, but they wear short-sleeve company uniform tops. “There is no requirement where you have to wear long-sleeve high-vis shirts and long pants unless you have contracts with mine sites where it is expected.

“Other than that, you are expecting apprentices to purchase a uniform solely for TAFE.”

There were 192 students enrolled in the automotive course across the Kimberley and Pilbara last year.

Nearly 2000 others would also be impacted by the decision, including those enrolled in construction, carpentry and joinery, conservation and land management, electrical, horticulture, maritime and pastoral.

NRT managing director Kevin Doig said the safety of students and staff while learning at the TAFE’s facilities was paramount.

“Our Pilbara-based campuses led the way with a comprehensive PPE and clothing policy, and following the success of this policy it has now been adopted college-wide,” he said.

“NRT endeavours to employ best practice in all areas of its vocational education and training delivery across the North West, and this policy assists us in ensuring a safe training environment for all of our students and staff.”

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