Union disputes Uni Melbourne job cut plan

NTEU demands to see numbers that show its needed

Last month Uni Melbourne floated voluntary redundancies and early retirements, presumably to make a (relatively painless) start on the 450 FTE positions its COVID-19 savings plan requires it to cut (CMM September 28). The process got off to a slow start, when a problem was discovered with the wording of a relevant clause of the enterprise agreement ( for anybody interested). But management and the National Tertiary Education Union agreed on what needed to be done, the Fair Work Commission approved and all was well (CMM September 30).

Just not for long.

The university set out the case for the job cuts in a consultation paper last week and on Friday the campus branch of the NTEU notified management of an industrial dispute, stating the paper; “does not provide a full, meaningful and forthright presentation of the financial situation the university says is the reason for its proposal,” as required by the Uni Melbourne enterprise agreement.  Nor, the union argues, is there clear information on “the target financial savings proposed” and “the likely impact of the change proposal on remaining staff.”

To deal with the dispute the union asks for information on 16 issues, including actual and projected 2020-21 revenues and enrolments, casual and fixed term staff already gone and what management proposes to do about “work overload” post redundancies.

People at Parkville suggest the union’s approach is not entirely surprising, given the way management’s statement of Uni Melbourne’s financial circumstances were not accepted by a majority of staff voting on the proposal to give up a pay rise. (CMM June 12).

Since then the union has demanded management “open the books” to demonstrate alternatives to shedding staff (CMM, July 24, August 18). VC Duncan Maskell has made a financial case for staff cuts, (CMM August 6), but evidently not in enough detail for the union.