They may not have recognised it at first – it’s been a while
The National Tertiary Education Union postponed yesterday’s long-planned industrial action, “as a gesture of good faith” in enterprise bargaining negotiations with management.
“The progress in negotiations in the last few weeks has been significant, and we are hopeful that bargaining will be concluded in the very near future,” the union told members.
Crucial aspects of management’s offer include a 13.5 per cent pay rise over four years, which is not that far short of the 15 per cent over three NTEU national leadership wants nationally. Plus casual academics accounting for 25 per cent max, with new continuing jobs and improved conversion for fixed-term staff. There is also a new union-management consultative committee.
“This significant progress would not have been made without members’ willingness to take industrial action,” the union states – which is undoubtedly true.
But it is also due to management’s need for a deal and recognition that these are not the times for hanging tough. As VC Rufus Black put it in July, “part of paying people fairly is recognising that we are in an inflationary environment and cost of living pressures are affecting everyone,” (CMM July 4). And conversion rights for casuals has been on the national agenda since Western Sydney U’s precedent-setting proposed agreement (CMM July 27), now set to go to an all-staff vote.
Management is also signalling a more conciliatory style. “We need to focus on managing change in a much more effective way, building better approaches to two-way communication, and creating a better sense of empowerment and autonomy for our people,” Kristen Derbyshire (Chief People Officer) said during the week.
As to what’s in it for management; peace with staff is one fewer front to be fighting on. The Legislative Council inquiry into the university has a volume of vitriol in submissions to consider and the relocation of most of the university to the CBD was decisively rejected by Hobart City Council residents in a non-binding vote last month (CMM October 31).