NTEU to notify dispute on La Trobe University’s failure to consult properly on staff cuts
The dispute over staff cuts to Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University has escalated with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) to lodge a dispute with Fair Work Australia tomorrow, following the failure of negotiations this morning to resolve the issue.
NTEU La Trobe Branch President, Virginia Mansel Lees, said that the union had pressed university management for more information and more time to consult members, especially on regional campuses.
“With 37 equivalent full-time positions to go now and a further four by 2015, a week to consult members about changes to the restructure proposal is simply not enough. Nor has there been sufficient information about the changes and consequences for remaining staff particularly around workload impacts. All round, there has been a failure of the university to consult properly in line with its collective agreement consultation obligations,” she said.
“The failure of the university to provide organisational charts has made it difficult for people to identify whether or not they are affected by proposed changes. Members are affronted by the lack of detail.
“Now that management has released a second organisational change impact statement, a large number of additional staff members on regional campuses suddenly find themselves in the firing line. Without warning, La Trobe has axed its Politics courses at Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga. Cross-faculty programs such as service teaching in Education are also at risk.”
Mansel Lees said that the way Politics staff in Bendigo had found out about the axeing of their course – and jobs – was particularly brutal.
“Affected staff members found out their jobs were up for the chop via video conference in a lecture theatre where they and a few dozen other staff members had been told to gather. No one knew why they were there. Subsequently, there have been no face-to-face meetings with these members to discuss the axeing of their courses and jobs or any options that might be available,” she said.
Two local MPs, Maree Edwards (Bendigo West) and Jacinta Allan (Bendigo East), have written to La Trobe University asking it to reconsider its decision to cut staff at the Bendigo campus.
Both graduated from La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, Maree Edwards noting: “I would not have been able to pursue a career in politics and would not have had the opportunity to become the member for Bendigo West if I had not had the chance to study politics at the Bendigo campus."
The consequences of the staff cuts for the workloads of remaining staff, particularly in the regional Victoria, were also of grave concern, Mansel Lees said.
“University management’s response to ballooning workloads is completely unsatisfactory, especially in relation to History and Sociology which are slated to lose around 40 per cent of their staff positions. We’re been raising this issue from the very beginning,” she said.
“Management’s response has been little more than a statement that consolidation of curriculum and a minor increase in professional staff will reduce workloads. Given this lack of clear detail, members are deeply concerned about how the cuts will affect their ability to undertake the full range of academic duties, including research.”
The NTEU has asked university management to put on hold its ‘expression of interest’ redundancy process while the dispute remains unresolved.
“Given that no positions are due to be made redundant until 31 December 2012, there’s no reason why the university management can’t allow sufficient time for these major issues be addressed,” Mansel Lees said.
For further information and comment:
Virginia Mansel Lees: President, NTEU La Trobe University Branch: 0438 282 146
Serena O'Meley, Industrial Officer, NTEU La Trobe University Branch: 0437 100 688
More info: Carmel Shute NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356