There are claims at UTS that management has varied the draft enterprise agreement, signed off in-principle by the university and the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.
The union says university officials have re-drafted the text into “plain English” and omitted some agreed terms while inserting new one. Among other issues, what’s out are clauses covering hiring scholarly teaching fellows and improving job access for sessional staff. What is in includes a small increase in annual work hours and changed job descriptors.
The new draft also excludes previously in-place statements of principle, notably on recognising what staff who are victims of domestic violence endure.
The simplified text issue also puzzles people briefed on the new draft. For a start, some say it is not all that easily understood with inept drafting adding ambiguity and changing meaning. The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association was big on shorter, simpler enterprise agreements at the start of the present bargaining round last year, which the union opposed on the grounds that generalities can reduce staff rights – the UTS situation appears to explain why.
Yesterday UTS responded with a statement that it “is keen to ensure our agreements are in plain English to ensure accessibility to all staff – this was discussed with the NTEU at the outset and throughout bargaining. We are disappointed the NTEU have chosen to ignore opportunities to discuss the new redraft and remain committed to the in-principle agreements that are in place for both our agreements and trust the union is too.”