Uni Sydney shares some of the wealth

VC Mark Scott announces a 2.1 per cent pay rise in July and a one-off $1000 payment

Professor Scott tells staff they are “in the context of increases to the cost of living,” and with enterprise agreement negotiations extending into the second half of the year, (the existing agreement expires June 30, but stays in force until there is a new one).

Smart move on two counts.

Count one is that Uni Sydney’s 2021 annual report reveals an operating surplus of $1.04bn last year – which management was quick to point out was more apparent than actual, what with it including non-discretionary income. The number management preferred was a surplus of $453m (CMM May 24).

But a $1bn profit is an easy number to remember and anything that demonstrates staff are being rewarded for creating it can’t hurt.

Count two is that the last pay rise under the expiring agreement was in July last year and this one is probably intended to be the first, pre-dated,  of the new one, which may not be agreed for a while. Bargaining with the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is not zipping along – the comrades have gone out twice already, without payrises being a big issue.

But sooner or later it will be. The union’s national leadership have upped its all-uni pay demand from 4 per cent per annum for three years to five per cent by three, citing inflation (CMM April 21). By getting in first management at least sets a base for negotiations.

Up to a point.

Last night NTEU state secretary for NSW, Damien Cahill responded that “‘while the pay rise of 2.1 per cent is welcome, it is well below what the university can afford, well below what staff need to keep pace with rising living costs, and well below what staff deserve given it was their sacrifices and dedication that allowed the university to get through the last two difficult years.”