Job protection deal not done at Victoria U

Talks stop at Victoria U on a joint union-management savings plan

The proposal appears based on the Job Protection Framework, created by four VCs and the federal leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union, for universities to respond to the COVID-19 financial crunch.

But Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins told staff last night the union would not support the proposal.

This is not entirely surprising given a meeting of NTEU members voted against cooperating with management on savings (CMM August 10). The union’s formal vote on a joint approach is said to have provided branch leaders with the barest majority for talks (CMM September 11).

VU management proposed changes to the university’s enterprise agreement include a pay rise delay and a leave-purchase scheme over three years. In return, management committed to protecting 90 FTE positions, no forced redundancies if 100 voluntary separations occurred and oversight (including by a union nominee) of university finances.

The university had hoped to put an enterprise agreement variation to a staff vote by month’s end.

But not now. “This development is disappointing, however, we will continue to explore options to limit the adverse impact of this significant number of job losses on our people and on our organisation,” Professor Dawkins said.

Unless a way is found to talk more. The campus branch of the NTEU told members last night, outstanding issues are whether forced redundancies are allowed, and if so what number, plus the duration of the enterprise agreement variation. The union states it has options to propose on the EAV and describes the negotiations as “stalled.”