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MELBOURNE’S metropolitan train operator put staff through unnecessary training to get generous government subsidies, whistleblowers say.
They say Metro Trains, a registered training organisation, used “recognition of prior learning” to get staff degrees through a program with South West TAFE.
Training organisations get thousands of dollars per degree from the state government, through skills grants.
Metro on Monday night strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying any suggestion otherwise was “false and scurrilous”.
And the company says the training was backed by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.
Operational and administrative staff and train drivers have told the Herald Sun Metro sought to maximise applicants between 2011 and 2013.
Metro even set up a fund to donate money to the Royal Children’s Hospital when staff signed up to training.
Former driver Peter Murray said he was told to sign up for a 2013 Certificate IV, though as a driver “I already had qualifications. I didn’t need it”.
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A Metro spokesman said no evidence has been found of any wrongdoing. Picture: Trevor Pinder.
Another whistleblower said Metro “instructed employees to give them details of the courses they had done”.
“They were doing a mapping exercise to see where the gaps were,” said the whistleblower, who did not want to be named.
Another called the process “weird” because there was so little contact with educators.
A Metro spokesman said: “We have audited thousands of training records and have found no evidence of any wrongdoing.”
He said: “New train driver recruits undertake a traineeship before earning a Certificate IV to become qualified drivers. To ensure consistency across the driver workforce, existing drivers who were qualified under previous arrangements were assessed through the Recognition of Prior Learning process.”
Luba Grigorovitch, state secretary of Rail, Tram and Bus Union at Flinders St Station. Picture: Nicole GarmstonRTBU state secretary Luba Grigorovitch accused Metro of “ripping Victorians off”.
The government refused to comment, because some South West TAFE training contracts are being probed by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
There is no allegation Metro acted corruptly in dealing with South West TAFE.
However, South West TAFE’s chief executive Mark Fidge told IBAC hearings that third-party contracts were reviewed after “deficiencies” were found in the organisation’s Metro contract.
South West TAFE was contacted for comment.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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