Uni Wollongong unfreezes payrises

Campus unions agreed last year to defer 2019 enterprise agreement payrises scheduled for 2020 and 2021, as COVID-19 savings measures (CMM July 30 2020)

But the agreement was based on times remaining tough – if things improved it could be cancelled, which by August this year the National Tertiary Education suspected was the case. “The dire predictions of 2020 have not come to pass, ” branch president Fiona Probyn-Rapsley said in August, (CMM August 15).

Management did not agree, Chief Operating Officer  Damien Israel warned that while UoW is “on the path to recovery” “our financial outlook continues to be challenging” and ending savings measures early “could place the university in financial difficulty,” (CMM August 20).

Certainly Uni Wollongong had a tough time last year. A Commonwealth Government report shows it moving from a $17m surplus in 2019 to a $52m loss last year, but as James Guthrie reports in CMM a great deal of the university’s difficulties had to do with the cost of ending a student accommodation partnership.

And now new Vice Chancellor Patricia Davidson has decided to pay on December 1, the November 2020 (2 per cent) and November 2021 (2.5 per cent)  pay rises that were deferred  until the end of January next. “Although our financial situation remains uncertain, we can afford to make this important and genuine show of goodwill … it will hopefully ease the financial burden being borne by staff, particularly casual staff, in the lead up to the holiday season,”she said yesterday.