UWA VC tells staff: more problems than the pandemic

UWA staff have accepted COVID-19 caused cuts in conditions to provide savings that protect jobs. Now management points to more problems

New Vice Chancellor Amit Chakma tells staff, “while not discounting the consequences of the pandemic, the university also has a deeper structural budget deficit — in the order of $70 million — which must be addressed quickly and decisively to ensure our future strength. Things must change — we must learn to live within our means.” (Scroll down for what he wants to do about it).

Professor Chakma adds, “I need your support to redesign how we work to improve our effectiveness, become more efficient and eliminate duplication.”

Good-o, but if this means job losses, the timing will be tricky. Professor Chakma’s predecessor Jane den Hollander negotiated a COVID-19 savings enterprise agreement variation with the union, that traded delaying a pay rise and temporary cuts to conditions in return for protecting 250 jobs from any retrenchment, (CMM June 9).

That agreement was based on the national Job Protection Framework negotiated by four VCs (including den Hollander) and the National Tertiary Education Union and there is nothing in it that explicitly rules out non COVID-19 related redundancies.

But it is hard to imagine a job-shedding restructure across the university being well-received by staff while the EVA sacrifices they accepted are in place.