A wage agreement at Charles Sturt University deals the NTEU out

The Vann-guard

The industrial relations experts attending the system-wide summit on the state of enterprise bargaining would have come as close as university officials ever do to cheering on Friday. Staff at Charles Sturt, where staff voted for an enterprise deal opposed by the National Tertiary Education Union.
The deal delivers a 3 per cent per annum pay rise for three years, under the 4 per cent the union is asking for at campuses across the country but the way the union was defeated is more significant than the way it did not get as much as it wanted for staff.   It seems that everybody at the last bargaining session signed off on the deal but that the National Tertiary Education Union representatives changed their mind soon after the meeting broke up. The union says its team realised there were unsettled issues and that the pay rise did not cover all of the time since the last EB expired. Others argue that the local bargainers were over-ruled by the union’s head office, which wanted the four, the four and nothing but the four.  Whatever occurred Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann decided to take the deal to a vote.  Which he won, with a solid if not overwhelming majority. Some 1850 of CSU’s 2200 staff voted with 60 per cent supporting the deal. Vice Chancellors of universities where bargaining is stalled will be wondering whether they should follow Vann’s lead. “This is a highly significant win,” one veteran of many bargaining blues said yesterday.

A deal at Deakin

There is also an agreement between management and the NTEU at Deakin University, which is offering 3.3 per cent, plus a one-off $1200 payment. I always had a sense that money was not the primary point separating management and union there, that there was a concern over workloads, which went well beyond the standard bargaining rhetoric. The agreement deals with this and also adds 40 new teaching scholar positions, creating non-research career paths for academics. This was the big issue across the system before pay got in the way and it will be again.

 So what happens next? 

Look for deals and quite a few of them done quickly. Inevitably there will be face saving salvos in some cases. At James Cook the campus NTEU is urging staff to make their case direct to the chancellor, John Grey that they merit more than 3 per cent. “The commitment of staff to their work at JCU, to the students and to their employer generally far exceeds the bounds of the employment contract. This commitment has been damaged by management’s intransigence.” Fair enough, although addressing Mr Grey as a lieutenant probably did not help the letter’s credibility – he is a lieutenant general, which is a bit, quite a bit, further up the food chain.
And there is still strife to come at others. It will not be easy for the University of Sydney to do a deal without some concession from management after the long and continuing conflict there – a three-day strike is scheduled. And University of Melbourne unionists will go out for the day on Wednesday.
But overall it looks like the beginning of the end of industrial action – at a 3 per cent price.

What will the minister do about MOOCS. Number four in a series

Back in February Tony Abbott suggested there could be something to MOOCS, telling Universities Australia they, have obvious potential to make higher education more widely available but, equally obviously, also pose a challenge to established methods and institutions.” The then opposition leader appointed a panel chaired by Alan Tudge to look into “how even nimble and resourceful institutions might make more of these opportunities, while preserving their inheritance, especially the ‘common room’ tradition of intellectual interaction.” Mr Tudge was to report to education spokesman Chris Pyne and his then higher education offsider Brett Mason in April. Which I am told he did. So where is the report and what is Minister Pyne going to do about it?

Medical researchers on the money

The National Health and Medical Research Council must know it represents the government’s preferred researchers. In February Tony Abbott made it quite clear that medical research would prosper under his government – a promise he acted on before the election by announcing the transfer of money from the Australian Research Council. So how smart is the NHMRC in giving the government  examples of work it will approve of? As far as next month’s Research Translation Faculty Symposium is any indication, very smart indeed.  “One of NHMRC’s primary responsibilities is supporting the effective and rapid translation of research findings into health care policy and practice. With the NHMRC Research Translation Faculty, we have ventured into a new era. The Faculty is a major strategic initiative for health and medical research translation in Australia,” NHMRC chief Warwick Anderson says. Music to the ears of health minister Peter Dutton, science (in reality if not name) minister Ian Macfarlane, education minister Chris Pyne and anybody who I misssed.

Brand building

With approvals in place the hard part for David Battersby’s Federation University Australia is about to begin. No not the continuing absence of an enterprise agreement, creating a brand for the new university. What was the University of Ballarat was a hard enough sell – a regional campus without a reputation to rival the bright lights of Melbourne. But the new FUA combines Ballarat with another bush campus in Gippsland way out on the other side of the city. The challenge is to explain the what and where before even attempting to get down to the why study there.  On the old UB’s performance whoever briefs the creative will be up to it. For my money Ballarat has produced some of the best student recruitment advertising in the country – heavy on customer benefits and light on brand burnishing. There is a reel here. And this one featuring Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell is a model graduate endorsement. It’s a strategy to stick with.

See, stuffed software just doesn’t happen to you

At the end of the week James Cook University advised students that problems with the new webmail continued but not to worry Microsoft was onto it, six days after the fault commenced.

 No tricks missed

I don’t know who Andy Vann has working on the Charles Sturt campaign for its proposed Murray Darling Medical School but he or she does not miss a trick. Clinical science students are conducting community surveys on heart health next week – and well if people get the idea there would be so much more CSU could do if it educated doctors as well that is hardly the university’s fault. Vice Chancellor Van also acts as if MDMS is such an inevitable idea that sensible politicians are all on the bandwagon. On Friday he reminded Nationals MPs how wise the party was to support the school during the election. “We look forward to working with the new government to establish a new Murray Darling Medical School for rural and regional Australians.” He added that “governance structures for the new school are progressing well, and work has commenced on the rural entry criteria and medical curriculum.”  I also hear CSU is talking to medical schools that do not have a bush presence about cooperating.
This is all good-oh, except that the deal is not done. The decision depends on Health Minister Peter Dutton, and I have no doubt the University of New South Wales, who trains doctors in country New South Wales is keen to explain what a terrible idea it is. But wait, isn’t the assistant minister Fiona Nash, and isn’t she a Nat, and hasn’t she backed the proposal? Yes to all three.  I have no idea if the MDMS will get up but the case for it is a classic of community contact and political lobbying.

ARC under attack, again

A story in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph yesterday attacked the Australian Research Council for not funding a study of forced marriages in NSW, while supporting “a retrospective study of 18th and 19th century German existentialists,” (!). Cute, there was no mention that the vast majority of ARC applications are turned down. This is all down to Jamie Briggs irrelevant research stunt before the election and there will be more like it.  As a way of politicising research this is hard to beat and very, very bad.

Film rights still available

The University of South Australia announces, “the first edition of enterprise magazine features a story about new Vice Chancellor David Lloyd reflecting on his first few months in the job.” Which brings to mind advice from the great David Ogilvie;
“If the client moans and sighs make his logo twice the size, If he still proves refractory, show a picture of his factory, Only in the direst case should you use the client’s face.”