Swinburne VC signals a peaceable approach to bargaining

Swinburne U had a terrible time negotiating its last enterprise agreements –it’s looking for a better experience now

Swinburne pathways and vocational education staff have voted to approve a new enterprise agreement. According to the university, 99 per cent of staff who voted backed the deal, which provides a 13 per cent wage hike as a “catch-up”, “recognising the lower increases received by PAVE teachers compared to academic and general staff colleagues since 2013.”

For 2018-20 staff will receive 2 per cent per annum increases, which is in-line with rises at other universities.

The university’s enterprise agreement for academic and professional staff is also up for renewal, although it ran for just 19 months. This is because management and union got bogged down in a blue that took years, which were meant to be covered by the deal, to sort out. But not, it seems this time.

VC Linda Kristjanson says negotiations for the new agreement will start “soon.” She makes it explicit that until a new deal is done Swinburne will not go the Murdoch way. And she does it on the day Swinburne staff will meet to be briefed by the union on what is going on at Murdoch U.

“While the enterprise agreement has passed its nominal expiry date, the terms and conditions within it continue to apply until a new replacement agreement comes into effect.”

Professor Kristjanson is surely responding to National Tertiary Education Union warnings that universities with expired agreements could follow Murdoch U, which had terms under its expired agreement cancelled by the Fair Work Commission. This means Murdoch can use safety net award conditions as the basis for bargaining.



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