Worked-out in Wollongong

Management and union leaders at the uni there have agreed on terms for a job-saving strategy

The proposal is: Staff will concede conditions in return for job protections. In particular workers will, * have pay rises due in November 2020 and ’21 deferred to 2022 * give up pay rises on promotion for now * undertake different work, “within their competence”

In return management commits to, * “no forced redundancies directly due to COVID-19” before April 30 2021, * retaining fixed-term staff post-contract if the work they do continues and there is funding for it, * prioritise casuals employed in the last 12 months for available work. * UoW also agrees, “to provide regular financial briefings to both the NTEU and the Community and Public Sector Union on the university’s financial challenges and responses, subject to confidentiality requirements. Regular updates will also be provided directly to staff.”

There was no public word yesterday on how many jobs these measures would save. Under the universities original offer the best figure was 200 (CMM June 5).

Where this came from: Management put temporary pay-cuts on a promise of limiting job-losses to a staff vote last month. The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union vocally opposed the proposal, which was decisively defeated, (CMM June 18). The university then sat down with the unions to discuss alternative savings.

What’s next: The proposal now goes to union members (NTEU today). If they approve all staff will be asked to endorse the required variations to the UoW enterprise agreement.  If they don’t the university warns it, “will immediately begin pursuing the necessary savings by strategically reshaping and resizing its workforce under the terms of existing employment agreements.”

Sound familiar?: This deal appears to be a local version of the national job protection framework negotiated by four VCs and the NTEU, designed for use by any agreeable university. Close to half rejected it, many because of the clause requiring an independent committee over-sighting institutions finances.

However versions of the accord are already in-place at five universities with others expected to follow.