Message from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Management): University enterprise bargaining offer

13 June 2013

All parties have been working hard to reach agreement in the current round of enterprise bargaining negotiations. Today we put a firm offer to the NTEU and the CPSU of a 2.9 percent salary increase each year, effective from July 2013 through to June 2016. The unions did not accept this offer.

The offer is more than the current CPI measure of inflation, which is running at 2.5 percent nationally and 2.8 percent in Sydney. It would also maintain our position as the best-paying university in Australia.

In making this offer, we have asked the unions to consider that we have commitments to our students and to our research that we must meet, regardless of federal government cuts to our funding of $141 million from 2013 to 2016. Although the University reports an annual surplus, all of that money is either tied to particular purposes (such as research and philanthropic grants) or committed to maintaining our teaching and research facilities (for which there are no other sources of funds). We have explained to the unions that an increase of more than 2.9 percent would therefore have real financial consequences for our current day-to-day activities.

We have agreed that the great majority of your working conditions will remain unchanged, including those relating to intellectual freedom and academic workloads. Existing entitlements for annual leave, personal leave (sick and carer's leave) and the annual University closedown will also continue. There will be no change to teaching-focused roles, and the provisions relating to union resources, representation and campus access will remain as they are.

We have agreed several important changes as follows.

The introduction of new scholarly teaching and early-career roles aim to further reduce casual employment of academic staff. Agreed steps include the following.

  • 80 new Scholarly Teaching Fellowship (STF) continuing positions during the life of the agreement to replace casual academic staff. These will be open only to applicants with recent fixed-term or casual academic experience at an Australian university. Staff would be appointed for a two-year probationary term plus a three-year confirmation period before a continuing appointment would be approved.
  • 40 new fixed-term Early Career Development Fellowship (ECDF) positions, open only to applicants with recent casual academic experience. There will be provision for approval of continuing employment after successful completion of a two-year probationary term, plus a three-year confirmation period.
  • We have agreed that the confirmation period for all academic staff, other than STFs and ECDFs, will be four years.

Professional staff will benefit from enhanced opportunities for training and development, new provisions relating to workload allocation and recruitment and selection, and improved redundancy benefits as follows.

  • Job vacancies will be advertised internally in the first instance.
  • A short-term secondment and exchange scheme will be established from January 2014.
  • New provisions will support equitable, transparent and reasonable allocation of work for professional staff.

Our offer today included the following.

  • A $2 million professional staff development fund that will be allocated to assist professional staff to achieve their 'next-step' career goals.
  • The maximum severance pay for professional staff will be increased from 52 to 62 weeks.

Subject to drafting we are in agreement on the broad principles in regard to the following.

  • Managing change: There will be athree-step process with no reduction in staff consultation.
  • Review committees: Existing arrangements will continue, with provision for an agreed panel of people to chair review committees and a new requirement for the Vice-Chancellor to provide written reasons if a review committee's recommendations are not accepted.
  • Indigenous employment: In line with the goals of our Wingara Mura strategy, weaim to increase employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to 75 academic staff and 97 professional staff by December 2015.
  • Workplace bullying: A new clause reinforces the University's commitment to providing information and training in relation to bullying, and to dealing with complaints fairly and promptly.
  • Fixed-term employment: There will bemore scope for conversion to continuing employment. Existing arrangements will be retained regarding re-engagement, severance pay and limiting use of fixed term employment.
  • Casual employment: We will provide more scope to convert casual staff to continuing or fixed-term employment, andwill retain existing measures for monitoring and limiting casual employment.
  • Domestic violence leave: A new clause will provide a definition and purpose as well as access to personal leave, flexible working arrangements and other support for staff affected by domestic or family violence.
  • Parental leave: Staff will be able to useup to five days personal leave as partner leave (in addition to the existing entitlement to five days paid leave), and there will be more flexibility for the first 14 weeks of maternity leave to be shared with another primary care giver.
  • Performance: We will simplify the current performance improvement process without removing appropriate staff protections.

The unions have not agreed to our offer of a 2.9 percent salary increase. The University has not agreed to extend 17 percent superannuation employer contributions to casual staff and fixed-term staff of less than one year's service.

We are updating the enterprise bargaining website to reflect today's negotiations. The new draft agreement will be available online tomorrow. We will keep you updated on further developments.

Yours sincerely

Professor Ann Brewer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Management)