Message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Management): enterprise bargaining update

16 April 2013

In the context of negotiations around a new Enterprise Agreement, the most important message I have to convey is our dismay at the government's announced cuts to university block grants. We are particularly concerned about the additional impact on this University of the introduction of a cap on tax-deductible self-education expenses, which we are currently costing, and which could drastically affect our income from domestic postgraduate coursework fees.

In the enterprise bargaining meeting held last week, we discussed six current issues with the unions. Full details of the discussions are available on the enterprise bargaining website.

Regarding fixed-term employment, we proposed limiting the range of situations in which fixed-term employment could be used. The unions have rejected our proposal.

Regarding flexible personal leave, even though the Delegated Officer (Staffing) can approve additional paid leave in hardship cases, we proposed the creation of a 'leave bank' from which staff with serious long-term illnesses or injuries could access extra paid leave. The unions have rejected our proposal.

Regarding Academic Performance and Development (AP&D), staff will not be rated on their performance. The University's proposed clause gives staff more initial support and time to improve their performance before it becomes necessary to put them through a single performance improvement plan (PIP) process. This proposal is under negotiation.

The unions want to extend the same redundancy payments to professional staff that are provided to academic staff. The University has rejected this proposal on the grounds that it overlooks the need for academic redundancy to be more generous because academic skills are less obviously transferable than professional staff skills. As well, it would be way out of line with other universities.

The University has proposed that we should aim to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to 75 academic and 97 professional staff by December 2015. This proposal is being considered by the unions.

Regarding job security, we proposed that, in the event of voluntary redundancy (VR), we would widen the expression of interest process to include staff in an equivalent area, who would then be able to ask to take up the VR instead of the staff member whose position had been earmarked for redundancy. This proposal is still under negotiation.

I will provide further updates on progress as it occurs.

Yours sincerely

Professor Ann Brewer