Meeting condemns research college proposal and unintended consequences of ERA
The message from yesterday's multi-campus union meeting about the DVC’s research college proposal was unequivocal. Members have demanded that it be withdrawn and have directed the Union to pursue all necessary avenues to ensure that it is.
Discussion at the meeting was robust and at times heated, and a draft motion was substantially amended from the floor of the meeting (see below). Members are angered by the proposal and the fact that it does not comply with either the spirit or the letter of the collective agreement.
Staff should not be restricted from publishing and should not have their research interests confined to ‘scholarship only’. There are real concerns about the damage that could be done to academic careers, and the impact that such a proposal would have on the reputation of the University.
The Branch is drafting a strongly worded letter to the University, in consultation with volunteers from the meeting, demanding that the proposal be withdrawn. We will make it plain in that letter that once the proposal is withdrawn that the Union and academic staff will be more than prepared to enter into discussions about the strategic research directions of the University and to work with the university to ensure that there are improvements.
The meeting also discussed the NTEU’s national lobbying about the unintended consequences of the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) exercise and moved a second motion in support of those efforts (see below). It is the intention of the Branch to send a delegation to meet with the Minister and/or his advisors to explain how the ERA is impacting staff at La Trobe.
You can help by emailing your experiences of the ERA to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collate this information and feed it back to our National Research Unit.
Finally, we hear your concerns about the inconsistent way the Workload Management System (WMS) is being implemented in the trial areas. It would help us a great deal if each trial area could nominate one union member to liaise with our Branch Industrial Organiser, Serena O’Meley about the WMS (EXT2124).
NTEU La Trobe Branch
MOTIONS FROM THE MEETING
NTEU La Trobe Branch calls on the University to abandon the Research College proposal. We believe the proposal constitutes a breach of the collective agreement and individual contractual rights. We note the Research College proposal has been driven by unintended consequences connected to the Federal Government’s Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) exercise. We believe the proposal is divisive and there is no evidence base to show that it will deliver better research results.
We believe that the University should demonstrate that it can effectively manage research time allocations through the Workload Management System and can manage performance issues through the Performance Appraisal System. We call upon the University to finalise and implement these systems in consultation with the NTEU. We also seek improvements to staff training and development opportunities.
Moved: Dr Jack Reynolds
Seconded: Associate Professor Jill Murray
This meeting of NTEU La Trobe Branch members at the Melbourne, Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo and City Campuses affirms that:
- We are not confident that the ERA will improve the quality of research being undertaken at Australian universities, and we believe that the ERA will restrict research capacity by denying some academic staff opportunities to engage in research.
- The Federal Government must deal with the identified flaws of the ERA before the commencement of the 2012 exercise. This can only be after meaningful dialogue with staff and their representatives.
- The NTEU is concerned that the ERA will be inappropriately used in performance management, workload allocations, redundancies, promotions, appointments and grant applications.
- We do not have confidence in the ERA process.
Moved: Dr John Russell
Seconded: Linda Wannan-Edgar