UWS Academic Staff: VOTE ‘NO’
Why UWS Academic Staff should VOTE ‘NO’ (General Staff click here)
The University of Western Sydney Management has taken the extraordinary step of conducting a ballot of Academic staff for a Non-Union Enterprise Agreement. This inferior management proposal does not address the on going issue of Academic Workloads and makes pay rises contingent on the basis of the successful implementation of undisclosed improvement initiatives.
We believe that holding a ballot at this time is denying staff their rights:
- Holding a ballot at this time does not allow the NTEU the opportunity to hold proper meetings with its members and gauge their views on the Agreement.
- Why are Management so committed to rushing this through, at Christmas, when many staff have already left for the year? What have Management got to hide?
- Staff should not be denied their rights to question the document simply to rush though an agreement before the end of the year.
We believe that the process has been hijacked by an ideological agenda:
- Leading up to the non-Union ballot, Management refused to allow the Union access to teleconferencing facilities in an effort to gag the NTEU and gag debate.
- Management’s ballot proposal is about driving a wedge between the Academic staff and their union, the NTEU.
- Management has adopted ideology over commonsense and hijacked the more collegial processes that should typify Academic bargaining.
15 GOOD REASONS TO VOTE ‘NO’
- UWS management are taking the provocative and unprecedented step of sending out to ballot a non-Union Academic Staff Agreement just days before Christmas. This Agreement is not endorsed by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and we urge you to Vote No.
- This Agreement will further increase academic workloads and further erode the quality of education. Between 1993 and 2006 staff-student ratios at UWS increased by more than 50% – from 1:15 to 1:23 – according to DEST figures. Staff know that this has a direct effect on the quality of the student experience, and makes it extremely difficult and stressful to offer the high quality of teaching UWS students deserve. Australian academic staff now work longer hours than in any other comparable country (Changing Academic Profession survey of 18 nations, 2007). UWS management now propose to remove any and all limits on individual workload agreements, and to place control of workload policy personally into the hands of Heads of School. This will only make a bad situation much, much worse.
- This Agreement will create more insecure employment at UWS. One in five non-casual staff at UWS are currently employed on fixed term contracts of employment. Early career positions that allow a greater research focus should not have to not come at the expense of job insecurity. At other institutions managements have agreed to much stronger job security measures for early-career staff. At the University of Canberra, for example, accelerated appointments for early career academics are linked with performance and probation arrangements. It’s not clear that the whole of the 18% salary increase is guaranteed. The salary offer is hedged around with mysterious qualifications. The Academic Staff Agreement includes a statement that salary increases will be contingent on “agreement to and successful implementation of the improvement initiatives provided for in this Agreement.” This does not appear in management’s proposed Agreement for General Staff and there are serious questions about what this means for the payment of salary increases to Academics.
- You will be tied down to a long agreement than staff elsewhere. The proposed Agreement will end on 31 December 2012. No other Agreement negotiated by the NTEU ends beyond 30 June 2012, with the Sydney University Agreement ending in May 2012. This will mean that UWS Staff will have less valuable pay rises the longer the Agreement runs. The bargaining position of staff will be weakened as they will be locked into an Agreement whilst all other universities in the country will be negotiating new Agreements with further pay increases
- Protections for fixed term contract staff may be lost for good. The Howard Government removed a wide range of protections for fixed term staff. NTEU has sought to restore the protections against management terminating these contracts and to abolish the unfettered ability of management to offer work on a fixed term basis, where that work should be offered on a continuing basis.
- This Agreement increases the probation period for Academic staff. The probation period for Academic Staff increases from 1 year to a minimum of 2 years and maximum of 3 years. There is now no obligation upon management to advise an employee of any problems or impediments to their performance.
- Management want to impose a system of “peer review” on any employee without their consent. In addition to annual performance reviews, and to student feedback processes, UWS wants to institute a ‘peer review’ process for staff members’ teaching. This will allow management to impose a reviewer on an employee. An employee need only be “consulted”. There is no right for the employee to disagree or object.
- Abolition of appeal rights against demotion. The Agreement removes staff members’ right to appeal against demotion for unsatisfactory performance.
- Annual leave entitlement reduced. Currently you can be directed to take annual leave by management once you have accrued 40 days leave. This has been reduced to 30 days.
- Reduction in the review period for unsatisfactory performance. Currently there is a two step process for reviewing performance. This has been reduced to one step.
- Reduction in notice period for termination on the grounds of Ill health. This has been reduced from two months to one month.
- Outsourcing is encouraged by this Agreement. The measures included in the proposed Agreement are minimal and will do nothing to stop future outsourcing proposals going ahead.
- The Agreement retains the Howard Government’s WorkChoices/HEWRRs regime. There are no Union representatives on the proposed disciplinary committees and the Vice-Chancellor has the final decision on the Chair.
- Heads of School removed from coverage of the Agreement. Management want to exclude Executive Deans, Deputy Deans, Deans and Heads of School from coverage of Academic Agreement. This represents an attack on conditions of employment for existing staff and a breakdown in collegiality.
- Casual Staff pay rates not explained. The Agreement fails to set out how the rates of pay for casual academic staff have been calculated. This could have a snowballing effect over time.
For more information, contact NTEU UWS Branch: Cat Coghlan, Branch Organiser. Ph: 02 9685 9928, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org