Uni Wollongong gives staff three choices   

The university “is not in a sustainable financial position” – here’s what Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings wants to do about it

The problem is: International student revenue will be down around 20 per cent this year on last, to $130m at best. Due to international travel restrictions, it will still be down 13 per cent on 2019 figures in 2022. And $330m in investments aren’t raidable, only equalling borrowing and staff leave liabilities.

The solution is: cut costs, draw down cash and reduce wages

How pay-cuts will help: There are three options;

* 5 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent pay cuts, stepped by pay-grade for 18 months, will mean 150 jobs go

* 7.5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent pay cuts, stepped by pay-grade for 12 months, will mean 200 jobs are lost

Working hours required would drop by the salary fraction given up and casuals would be exempt

* the third option is, do nothing, which means, “job losses will be substantial.” But even the two salary cut options won’t necessarily save all staff who want to stay. “The university cannot guarantee that there will not be any forced redundancies if options one or two are successful; but there will be significantly fewer forced redundancies than would be the case if there are no variations to the current agreements,” Professor Wellings briefing paper states.

What people think: Management wants to know and will survey staff for their preference, next Wednesday.

What happens next: If there is a majority for either of the two pay-cut options it would then be put to the all-staff vote required to vary the enterprise agreement.

What won’t:  A vote by union members before an all-staff ballot. Management is not obliged to do this, but the IR wisdom is that in most cases an enterprise agreement change proposed at a university which has union support is more likely to succeed in an all-staff vote. The majority of workers may not want to be in the union but they pay attention to what it says on pay and conditions.

The university states it will, “will consult with the unions about changes to the enterprise agreements and the financial situation of the university.” But with yesterday’s announcement of the survey it rather looks like management’s mind is made up.

UoW thinks people should pick either option one or two: “Our assessment at this stage is that job losses will be more than double what we are likely to experience if we can proceed with variations to our enterprise agreements. Job losses of this scale will impact all faculties and divisions in the institution and will compromise the fabric of UOW’s activities.”

The NTEU doesn’t:  National Tertiary Education Union branch president Georgine Clarsen says all three survey options, “are really the same.” “All involve job losses but none of them provide any enforceable certainty about their size. … We will mount a ‘vote no to everything and come back with something better’ campaign”.