Enterprise Bargaining Update from Sarah Gregson, President NTEU UNSW
The NTEU has lodged a dispute with management under the Managing Change provisions of both the professional and academic agreements and, until further notice, it is not necessary to comply with management directions to submit partial marks. The dispute resolution procedures are taking place at the moment and we will be in touch soon with further advice about the results of these discussions.
I am also very pleased to advise that there has been considerable movement in bargaining in recent weeks and that the NTEU and Management teams have scheduled two days of intensive bargaining on Thursday 16th June and Friday 17th June. Both parties have indicated that their intention is to finalise a draft agreement out of these meetings that can be put to a vote of members.
We are hopeful that this can be achieved because management has FINALLY agreed to accept clauses that regulate the use of fixed-term contracts and we view this as a significant step towards settlement of what has been a protracted and costly dispute.
That we have been able to achieve this outcome is a testament to members' resilience and commitment to the campaign for decent employment conditions at UNSW, through strikes, bans and protests. We have never wavered in our belief that unregulated use of contingent employment contracts would have disastrous consequences for members' work/life balance, workforce renewal, education quality and academic freedom.
A number of outstanding issues remain to be resolved this week. From the outset of bargaining, the Vice Chancellor threatened that to give into the union’s ‘greedy’ claim would mean job cuts. Clearly, however, parsimoniousness does not cut both ways in his mind. UNSW’s 2010 Annual Report reveals that remuneration paid to the eight UNSW executives earning more than $100,000 increased by 11.7%. Professor Hilmer’s own salary went from $805,000 to $995,000, an annual increase of 23.6%!
On every financial measure, UNSW is a wealthy institution. While many schools struggle to deal with tight budgets, the NSW Auditor-General's Report into NSW universities reveals that UNSW generated a surplus of $145.2 million last year, nearly $50 million more than the University itself budgeted to receive in its 2009 Annual Report. The UNSW surplus comprised 24 per cent of the total operating surplus generated by all NSW universities.
Despite this, the NTEU has faced considerable resistance from management about properly rewarding the staff who create these great outcomes. The NSW Auditor-General compared UNSW with other Australian universities and found that UNSW staff have the second lowest ratio of employee benefits and on-costs, expressed as a percentage of revenue.
Professor Hilmer’s dire pronouncements about declining overseas student enrollments are also not substantiated by the Auditor-General's report. In fact, there has been a 32.9 per cent increase! The VC claims that job insecurity is an inescapable feature of tertiary employment because of uncertainty in the overseas market, but his argument is clearly untenable. Coupled with planned increases in local student numbers through the Federal Government's social inclusion agenda, all the signs point to significant expansion, not crisis, in the next few years.
In the face of this overwhelming evidence, it is only fair that UNSW employees are protected by enterprise agreements that deliver job security, maintain comparative wage justice and regulate reasonable workloads, so that a decent workplace and learning environment is assured for both staff and students.
UNSW NTEU Branch President