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NTEU holds campus-based meetings to discuss academic worklaods campaign

Posted 1 June 2011 by Bonny Campbell (Charles Sturt University)

The NTEU held members meetings on all main CSU campuses on Wednesday 25/5/11. The purpose of the meeting was to:

  • update members on the outcome of the recent dispute meeting with management and the AWC meeting on Monday
  • discuss the issues with implementation and the solutions the NTEU are putting forward; and
  • seek guidance from members as to the next steps in the campaign.

The motion (see attachment) was unanimously passed by over 100 members.

(82 KB) - PDF

If you missed the meeting, you can read the summary below:

NTEU members meeting summary:

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is currently in dispute with University management over its handling of the implementation of the new Academic Workloads clause in the Enterprise Agreement. The clause requires that all Schools develop a time-costed workloads policy which limits teaching and teaching-related duties to a maximum of 60%. Members campaigned hard for this clause to be included in the Enterprise Agreement to ease the workload strain faced by academics. Members are frustrated that, despite management agreeing to the new arrangements on paper, they have not made much progress in properly implementing the clause.

New workload arrangements need to be in place for session 2 2011. And the NTEU is calling on the support of members to ensure that University management do everything in their power to make this happen.

AWC Meeting:

Under the EA a university-wide Academic Workloads Committee has been established, chaired by DVC Ross Chambers. The second meeting of this committee was held on Monday 23 May 2011. It has four NTEU representatives on and four management nominees. This committee has monitoring the development of workload policies in all Schools and is charged with reviewing all School Workloads Policies.

On Monday the committee reviewed the policies in the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Science and found that none of these School policies could be approved by the AWC in their current state. The AWC has sent these policies back to the relevant Schools for more work and with templates that can be used to develop the workload policies.

Dispute meeting on Friday:

The NTEU had a meeting with University management on Friday over the dispute where we discussed the matters that the NTEU needs to see addressed to resolve the dispute. There was verbal agreement to many of our requests and we have since followed up with a letter to the DVC Academic requesting a written response to the matters that were discussed. (circulate letter.)

Breakthrough Development:

Last night: We have received a proposal from HR to conduct a series of meetings in each school jointly conducted by HR, NTEU, and AWC over the next few weeks to speed up the process and get collegial involvement. As we understand it, this will involve:

- a schedule of School meetings to be advertised in advance ( ie., later this week, early next week)

- compulsory attendance of all academic staff (casuals to be invited), unless arranged with HOS to be absent

- distribution in advance of a time-costing checklist/template for consideration

- meeting time set aside for Q&A and/or workshopping a time-costing schedule

- HOS will be asked to take a back seat if they attend and HR will facilitate the meeting


What are the problems? And what have we requested from management to resolve these problems?

1)      Consultation with staff has been very poor. For School Workloads Policies to be effective they need be developed through a ‘formal school-wide collegial process’ and in consultation – not simply an email exchange - with all academic staff. However, in many Schools a deep and thorough consultation process has not occurred and the Enterprise Agreement is not being adhered to. Less than 30% of the 177 academic staff we surveyed reported that they were confident that all staff had been adequately consulted as part of the development of the School Workloads Policy.

What NTEU are seeking: The NTEU requires that a consultation process immediately begin in all schools where consultation has not been adequate, and that the consultation process involve a member of Human Resources, and where possible a representative of the NTEU.

2)      Some faculties are putting forward faculty-wide policies, rather than School policies.

What NTEU are seeking: These faculties have been directed to consult with staff using the process below and develop a School-based workloads policy. The Academic Workloads Committee has indicated that while staff can elect to use a Faculty template to develop a School policy, it must, at the very least, be customised to meet the circumstances of disciplines and schools. Alternatively, staff can elect to develop their own School based policy. School’s have elected to do so in all Faculties – using a Faculty template is optional. A list of time-costing items and sample policies are being circulated to Schools to assist with the collegial development of School policies where this has not already occurred. The NTEU can provide copies of all School policies on request. 

3)      Some time costing schedules submitted to the AWC are not transparent, equitable or accurate.

What NTEU are seeking: The AWC is instructing Heads of School’s to further develop policies where core teaching activities are not itemised appropriately (eg., missing or conflated items). In the interests of transparency and equity, the AWC will not accept ‘special arrangement’, discretionary or negotiable time-costings in policies, without clear justification. Time costing schedules that are not compliant with these principles are a possible trigger for pursuing dispute resolution through Fair Work Australia.

 4)      Some Schools say they do not have enough staff to implement the School Workloads Policy

What NTEU is seeking: It is a requirement of settling the dispute that the union has with University management that the DVC (academic) writes to all HoSs stating that there is money available to fund the employment of extra staff required to implement the School Workload Policies. During the negotiations of the Enterprise Agreement, University management pledged $10 million to fund the new workloads clause. NTEU are also aware that the federal budget will increase regional loadings to CSU from $2 million to close to $8 million. This extra money should be spent addressing staffing shortfalls.

5)      Time is running out to properly implement the new workload arrangements by Session 2 2011. University management have not met the timelines in the Enterprise Agreement meaning that we are well behind schedule for implementing the School Workloads Policies in Session 2. The Enterprise Agreement clearly states that ‘by the end of November 2010, the development of the policy will involve consultation with all academic staff’ and that the policies were to be fully developed by March this year. This has not occurred, and instead, some Schools only started the consultation process this year, while other Schools have still not genuinely consulted staff.

What NTEU is seeking: NTEU has demanded that an intensive consultation process take place immediately and the AWC meet weekly to monitor progress. The NTEU has set the deadlines of the 10th June for the revised Workloads Policies to be in place, and the 24th of June for all academic staff to have a written workload allocations for Session 2. This is necessary so that Schools have enough time to employ staff to meet the gaps in the workload allocations under the new policies.

6)      Increasing employment of casual staff and no guidelines on casual employment/ work allocation contained in the School Workloads Policies.

What NTEU is seeking: The NTEU is advocating that the workload problem will only be fixed with the employment of additional continuing academic staff (i.e. not relying merely on the employment of casual and fixed-term staff). Casual relief will still be needed in many Schools as either a short term solution or an ongoing need. To assist Schools in hiring casual staff, the NTEU has requested that CSU set up a centralised casual pool or register with a dedicated person to assist employing and sourcing casuals for relief work.

Regarding guidelines for casual work allocations: HoS’s should immediately begin a consultation process with casual academics in the School to develop guidelines for casual employment/ work allocation in the School. Where casuals are invited to be part of the consultation process they should be paid for their time under clause 30.13.


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