Better deals for people who really need them  

Casual staff (at least those that are left) could be helped in new enterprise agreements

The new round of enterprise bargaining is off to a slowish start, with nothing happening in WA, where agreements expire first. But when the pace does pick up pay not be the biggest issue. 10 per cent rises across the life of an agreement is expected to be union starting demands lodged on the general principal that there is no harm in asking.

As it was last year, job security will likely be big on the agenda – but this year people in in the precariat will feature.

There is a vocal campaign by casual academics about their insecure employment but what has really attracted off-campus attention are substantiated claims of casual staff, both academic and professionals, being paid less than the agreed rates for jobs.

This is a terrible look for university managements and accounting exercises to identify who is owed pay and then sent cheques is necessary and underway at unis across the country, most recently announced at Uni Sydney.

A better way to prevent this happening is provide casuals with fixed term-contracts that provide continuity of employment, albeit for not many years, plus benefits, instead of leaving people employed by semester, with no confidence of what happens next or that they will be paid the right rate per hour,

ANU and Monash U are both looking at this and there is word other university managements are contemplating including more fixed term contracts in bargaining negotiations.

Universities may not have much choice to doing something about this. Changes to the Fair Work Act should make it easier for casuals, employed on the same tasks for regular hours over six months to apply to become full-time.