Ordinary bargains expected in 2021 uni agreements

To listen to vice chancellors the biggest benefits staff can hope for this year is an extra cup of gruel, monthly, one per faculty

Enterprise Bargaining Round Eight begins this year and managements and unions are thinking about what they want.

Which in the case of the former is to give away not much – whatever institutions’ financial situation you can bet they will use COVID-19 as a cover, a learned reader wise in the wiles of management bargaining strategies suggests.

Just about the only employees with a hope of universities offering them any important improvements are casual academic teaching staff now often paid not much and for fewer hours than they spend on teaching and preparation.  Changes to the Fair Work Act (CMM April 21) give them a path to permanency (albeit fixed-term) and universities will look for ways to provide some jobs, albeit without spending much more money.

Union officials will make a case for pay rises, “cause that’s what they do” a bargaining veteran says.  But they will focus on casual conversions, targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and university-specific issues, generally restrictions on the way restructures and redundancies are managed. “There are universities where anger at the way they have, and are, being done runs deep” the bargaining watcher says.