Report on Enterprise Bargaining: VU Work choices
Victoria University Management are still refusing to pay a pay rise in 2010, but now admit they can afford one. They will talk money, they say, if staff agree to change key conditions to allow management to impose massive increases in workload.
University management are demanding increases to the span of hours for General staff (which limits the times when work can normally be scheduled) and complete power to determine academic workloads, as terms of settlement for a collective agreement.
It is hardly likely that any worker in Australia would accept this “deal”.ï»¿ â€¨Although at VU we appear to have our own version of work choices in potential operation.
On Tuesday 20 July, formal enterprise bargaining began at VU. Informal discussions about the pay issue had occurred with DVC Hickman in the weeks leading up to this. Professor Greg Baxter (lead negotiator for VU) reiterated then what the Vice-Chancellor had told us earlier, namely, that it was a Council Budget decision that there be no pay rise this year because it simply could not be afforded and that she was thus constrained in what she might do. Hence, any arguments about the issue of capacity of the University to pay would effectively fall on deaf ears. They further said that VU would not contemplate any discussion of a salary rise in either quantum or timing until they had fully canvassed ALL the conditions matters. We requested that management provide us with a list of their counter-claims. Unbelievably, they said they were not ready to do so, even though we had given them a full Log of Claims in March, and in late April a fully drafted agreement, and that they set this as a condition precedent to any discussion about a pay rise. They appeared not even ready or able to respond in detail to our claims.
In a subsequent meeting on 27 July Professor Baxter indicated that there was a possibility of a pay rise this year in the context of bargaining. Whatever happened to the Council Budget decision we wondered? We started to feel as if we were in Alice's Wonderland. When questioned Baxter replied that this could be entertained by the University, although management senior to him would no doubt have to discuss the matter with Council. He stated that any pay rise this year would have to be accompanied by the NTEU abandoning completely the current workload model, which we had successfully fought VU management to protect in Fair Work Australia. 'Principles' would be put in the EA about workloads, but its operations would be governed by management policy.
This is like holding out the possibility of a pay rise and ramping up our workloads to pay for it. What this little charade tells us is that the Academic Workloads Model is the main game for the VU management but they also have some real stinkers for the General Staff.
Management's "Agenda" for bargaining for general staff includes the following:
* the span of hours and the span of the working week (i.e. beyond Monday to Friday) would be increased, limiting or removing the possibility for overtime, and shift loadings and allowing working hours to extended
* working hours would also be averaged over the year so staff could, for instance, be forced to 12 hour shifts or even split shifts without compensation for the unsociable and family-unfriendly hours worked
The NTEU will meet next Tuesday with management to continue negotiations over Enterprise Bargaining and your feedback on Management's claim is encouraged prior to then.