NTEU Media Release: RMIT University staff oppose management overkill on behaviour standards
Professional and academic staff at RMIT University have come out strongly against a complex, ambiguous and patronising code of behavioural standards which will compromise academic freedom.
“The Union doesn’t have a problem with university staff being expected to abide by professional standards, including diligently performing their work,” said Dr Colin Long, Victorian Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
“But what RMIT University management is proposing goes far beyond that. It is managerialism gone mad and will not tackle any of the major difficulties experienced by staff at the institution.”
“Universities are supposed to be robust sites of intellectual inquiry. You don’t maintain a healthy collegial environment where people feel free to challenge ideas and question assumed truths by making everything subservient to ‘team goals’ and enforcing a positive attitude.”
The 12 page code, known as ‘Behavioural Capability Framework’ was devised by external consultants and will be applied to all staff as part of their work plans and performance appraisals.
It includes a large number of complex, overlapping and ambiguous behaviour standards, including a commitment to “passion”, staff being “resolute”, showing “enthusiasm” and displaying a “positive rather than negative” attitude.
“It is not exactly telling staff to sing the lyrics to ‘Don’t Worry be Happy’ but it is close.”
“Jokes aside, staff believe the Framework breaches their collective agreement and institutionalises excessive workloads and under resourcing by framing these as challenges staff are expected to deal with.”
If RMIT believes it has a morale problem NTEU would suggest the fault lies not with staff outlook or lack of behavioural standards, but in the very real workforce problems facing the institution.”
“These include unsustainable workloads, the second highest density of casual academic labour of any university in Australia, one of the highest all student to all staff ratios in the country, and a slow grind of staff cut backs over the last few years.”
“If the institution wants to earn the respect of its staff, it could start by addressing some of these real problems, not by wasting money on hiring external consultants to tell staff much of what they are already doing,” Dr Long concluded.
For more information and comment:
Dr Colin Long, NTEU Victorian Secretary: 0403 920 361
Andrew Nette, NTEU Media Officer: 0431 217 131