At U Tas VC Rufus Black has a mandate for COVID-19 change  

90 per cent of staff who turned out have voted for a recovery package jointly proposed by management and the two campus unions

With 53 per cent of eligible staff voting, university management has an unambiguous mandate for specific changes.

What staff give-up: the scheduled Enterprise Agreement 2 per cent pay rise is off and pay rises accompanying promotions are deferred

What the university promises: The deal includes * no pay cuts, * “protections” for fixed-term staff and casuals, * “continued consultation on changes that affect staffing levels

Why staff agreed:  The university already faces major challenges, detailed by Professor Black in a ten-year plan (CMM August 5 2019). In March, he announced the university would cut degrees from 514 to 120 (CMM March 11). Staff may have decided that the COVID-19 change package provided better protection, at least in the short-term, for a restructure that is inevitable.

But staff also voted yes because the two campus unions, the CPSU and NTEU endorsed the deal. Union leaderships worked on the proposal and NTEU members had already endorsed it by a thumping majority in a campus ballot (CMM June 9).

A note-worthy result:  In working with the two union’s Professor Black demonstrates Lyndon Baine Johnson’s law of tents (better to have people inside peeing out than outside peeing in). While union members are generally a minority at universities other staff listen to the comrades on pay and conditions issues.

The Uni Tas deal is also pretty much what was set-out in the cuts-for jobs accord, drawn up by four VCs and the federal leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union. The proposal was withdrawn after 20 or so universities rejected it as not suiting their circumstances. Many also objected to the proposal for a committee including a union rep to oversight change, which U Tas accepts.

In contrast, savings proposals at the universities of Melbourne and Wollongong which local branches of the NTEU opposed have been decisively rejected by staff. NTEU branches are not all solid in support of the accord-idea but getting them talking in the tent is wise.