Where cuts will come from at Uni Wollongong

Management and union went back to the drawing board for a new deal after staff voted against cuts. That didn’t work either

Last month staff voted against management supported and union opposed plans, to save money with temporary pay cuts over 12 or 18 months (CMM June 18).  So uni and unions searched for common ground on how to deal with the COVID 19 cash crunch– which Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings says they did not find.

Professor Wellings tells the university community, discussions with the National Tertiary Education Union were “constructive” but it appears there was not enough to build a deal on. And so, management has abandoned seeking savings via staff-backed variations to the enterprise agreement, “until there is a change in positions put by the NTEU.”

Professor Wellings says to maintain existing wages and conditions, which staff voted to keep, the university will need to abolish 200 jobs, apparently on top of the maximum 200 management said would have to go under the two pay-cut options.

“To manage with existing employment conditions continuing, we must now adjust the university’s overall employee costs within the constraint of the budget.” The VC adds, “the trigger to implement significant workplace change is well established,” under the university’s enterprise agreements.

As well as jobs, Professor Wellings adds that “to reach a financially sustainable position” the university will “examine a range of factors.” They include; * “prevalence” of low enrolment subjects * “aligning” courses to university/national priorities * prioritising “internationally significant” research and research performance, * workforce “efficiency” and costing activities previously cross-subsidised from the surplus “arising from international revenues. “

To all of which the National Tertiary Education Union replies; “The NTEU has been clear from the outset we are willing to negotiate an outcome that protects jobs and ensures the financial sustainability of the university. Given management has now walked away from negotiations and announced hundreds of job cuts, their commitment to these goals must be questioned.”



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