Deakin U makes staff an offer the union already refuses

Management and NTEU are split on terms but there’s one thing they agree on

The university’s Stacey Walton told staff Friday that negotiations for a new enterprise agreement with the National Tertiary Education Union are “at an impasse.” Union officer Ridian Thomas is of the same view, “after four or five months of meandering negotiations … we are at an impasse,” he told members on March 23.

To move things along in their preferred direction, union members have voted for a series of work stoppages, to which Mrs Walton responded Friday, “we believe we have discharged our good faith bargaining obligations.”

“It’s time to hear from you directly,” she said, advising the university’s offer will be put to a staff vote next week, without union agreement.

The big issues are payrises under the new agreement, continuing jobs for casual staff and academic workloads.

The university points to administrative pay rises of 1.5% and 3.75% between June ’21 and now, which were not part of the last (2017) agreement. And DU is offering a 3 per increase from start date of a new agreement, with 3 per cent more in March ’24 and ’25 which union branch president Piper Rodd says is “grossly inadequate given the cost of living crisis and excessive inflation and rising interest rates.”

This is a courageous move by management – perhaps of the Appelby kind. In general big majorities of universities staff are not union members. But they listen to the comrades on matters of wages and conditions and generally vote no offers made by managements acting alone. However DU may be encouraged by Charles Darwin U staff backing a management offer in December – which the NTEU fiercely opposed.

Dr Rodd tells CMM the union is “deeply disappointed,” that the management offer, “provides no meaningful improvement of working conditions, workloads or job security.”

“ We want to keep bargaining,” she says.