Dawkins moves to keep the peace at Victoria U

Victoria U VC Peter Dawkins has assured all staff that union officials are not being-singled out for redundancy. And in a move intended to set the tone for enterprise bargaining he appears to have disavowed the Murdoch U strategy of cancelling the application of the soon to expire enterprise agreement.

Professor Dawkins repeated yesterday the university’s rejection of claims that staff members are targeted for redundancy because they are campus officials of the National Tertiary Education Union.

“These allegations are totally unfounded,” Professor Dawkins emailed staff.

The three officials involved “along with many other employees in our workforce, have been impacted by one of the current change programmes,” he said.

“It is important to acknowledge that they have been treated in exactly the same manner as all others affected by the various processes to position Victoria University as an open, excellent and financially sustainable university.”

The campus branch of the NTEU suggested in early October that branch president Paul Adams, secretary David Garland and vice president (professional staff) Stuart Martin are “targeted in the redundancy process” as enterprise bargaining begins. The university previously responded that the allegations are “completely false.” CMM October 17. However last week the VU union stood by its claim.

Yesterday Professor Dawkins also outlined management’s bargaining approach for an enterprise agreement to replace the existing one, which expires on December 31. Lorraine Ling leads a team consulting with staff and reporting to the VC, DVC Rhonda Hawkins and people and culture head Shaun Eltham.

Professor Dawkins also assured staff that the university will not seek to cancel conditions under the old agreement if a new deal is not done before it expires. “As is standard practice, the existing agreement will continue to operate after its expiry date, until it is replaced by a new agreement,” he said.

This is a direct rejection of the strategy used by Murdoch U, which convinced the Fair Work Commission to cancel the application of wages and conditions under an expired agreement, giving Murdoch management the capacity to bargain for worse pay and conditions than previously existed. While Murdoch U used its parlous financial position to convince the FWC, Professor Dawkins is apparently indicating that despite VU’s similar circumstances he will leave existing arrangements intact until a new agreement is reached.


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