Uni Adelaide staff accept savings pain

A management-union proposal passes with nearly 60 per cent of voters in favour

After making all the less painful cuts the university expects to be down $60m next year. Back in July acting VC Mike Brooks told staff that one way to find some of the money would be to cut 400 FTE positions. However, this could be halved if the workforce agreed to temporary reductions in conditions and deferring an agreed pay-rise. In return he committed to finding the 200 positions that have to go without forced redundancies or major restructures (CMM July 23).

To which staff have agreed with 58 per cent of the poll voting in favour of the necessary changes to the enterprise agreement.

This is a good result for Uni Adelaide management, saving the bloody bitterness that accompanies forced redundancies, particularly if the union goes hard in opposition.

And it is a pragmatic outcome for staff who clearly believe the vice chancellor that no full-time staffer will be forced out (the fate of casuals is probably bleaker).  That the agreement also includes independent oversight (including a union representative) of the university’s finances may have helped. Thus Professor Brooks told staff last night, “I will continue to communicate often and openly on our evolving financial position.”

It is also another win for the national and campus leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union. This deal was done according to the terms of the job protection framework, created by the union and four VCs, which is adamantly opposed by many vice chancellors, and vocal groups of NTEU members at campuses across the country. But now Uni Adelaide joins the seven universities where staff have voted for the framework, (or local variants) – none have voted no.