Greater workload equity established in Department of Business Law and Taxation
by Chris Coney, NTEU Delegate, Department of Business Law and Taxation
In the first weeks of semester one and rather out of the blue, staff in BLT were told that a new teaching model needed to be created. We were told that the Faculty required this task to be done quickly. A committee made up of several professors but only one representative from each of levels A to D was set up. For years it had been obvious that the vast bulk of the teaching was being done by junior staff, and very little by the level D and E staff. Some argued that it was necessary for junior staff to take heavy teaching responsibilities of up to 12 hours of class time per week because they were not pulling their weight with publications. As a result, the level D and E staff needed to be free from teaching to publish more to make up for this deficiency. Others argued that the heavy teaching was the reason for the publication shortfall. In short, it seemed a chicken and egg problem.
Several union members were on the committee which was assisted in its deliberations by the NTEU’s Liz Schroeder and John Pezy. The most important result from the perspective of most staff was that all academics classified as teaching and research active, from level A to level E, were to be required to teach 6 hours per week with very few exceptions. The quid pro quo was that definite research targets were set for each level; failure to achieve the targets would result in teaching hours increasing. Most staff were happy about this result, but the rush to get the model done by the deadline set by the Faculty meant that several issues were not taken into account. For example, there is no recognition of the time demands placed on many staff who have to complete the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education – these are nearly all junior staff.
Since the new model was created many staff members have joined the NTEU as they can see that good results can be achieved by united action. Staff who had been passively disenchanted found a voice to articulate the unfairness and irrationality of the previous work model. I hope that next year we can revisit the issues that were passed over in the rush to complete the current model.