Lies, Damn lies, and MQ Announcements
Hello members and lurkers!
Well, on Tuesday this week your bargaining team was treated to an extraordinary approach to negotiation on the part of the management team, on top of an astounding misuse of MQ Announcements and emails to students to spread misleading propaganda about the impact of the NTEU’s current industrial action. The Director of HR has gravely misled students, staff and now the general public through his statements broadcast on ABC radio.
Misleading students and staff
Tim Sprague’s email to students and MQ Announcements make a number of false or misleading claims, as follows:
Tim Sprague: “…the University [Management] is committed to negotiating fair pay and conditions for all staff…”
Tim and the Management team clearly demonstrated in yesterday’s bargaining meeting that the University Management has no such commitment. At the previous bargaining meeting two weeks ago, the NTEU team had placed a number of possible concessions on the table, indicating our willingness to give some ground on key claims in order to reach a settlement. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Management team came back with a flat “no” on all of these matters. This is hardly showing a commitment to negotiation – in fact their position on these issues has not shifted a millimetre in 18 months.
Tim Sprague: “The University has offered an annual 4% increase for the life of the agreement, which is consistent with what has already been accepted at other universities such as UTS, UNSW and Wollongong.”
There are two problems with this statement:
Firstly, the NTEU has not accepted this increase at UNSW nor at Wollongong. General Staff agreements at these Universities have been proposed by Management but the NTEU has opposed them. They are yet to be approved by Fair Work Australia (the last step in the process). I don’t have the latest figures for Wollongong to hand. However, the MQ pay offer is significantly poorer than most other universities, being the third-lowest in the sector overall and the lowest in NSW.
Secondly, the comparison with other universities is distorted because the University Management is using a “snapshot” method. The NTEU uses more consistent methods of comparison (expiry to expiry and pay rise to pay rise). This is a bit technical but it turns out that if these methods are used, the MQ pay rise amounts to only 3.3% per annum (both methods), well below the 4.5% (expiry to expiry) or 4.3% (pay rise to pay rise) at UNSW and the 4.3% at UTS (both methods).
Indeed, by 2012, if we accepted the MQ offer, a Level B6 staff member would be $353 per fortnight worse off than a Level B6 at Sydney University, and a Professor would be more than $400 a fortnight worse off than a UWS Professor. How can this be fair and reasonable?!
Tim Sprague: “…it appears that only a relatively small number of staff are withholding exam results.”
Relative to what, Tim? It’s not the number of staff who take action, it’s the impact that matters. So far we estimate that around 15000 results will be affected. At our get-together today, members brought about 40 stand-down notices and warning letters (pre-empting the stand-down notices that they will almost certainly receive tomorrow). That’s already more than UNSW, and we are half their size – and their action has certainly been effective. And of course, that was only the members who could make it to the get-together today – we figure that we’ve seen around a third of the notices or letters distributed so far.
Tim Sprague: “…NTEU members are prepared to disadvantage Macquarie’s students and threaten their employment and immigration status by withholding exam results.”
This is perhaps the most disturbing and scurrilous of the scaremongering rumours being spread to staff and students. Tim Sprague knows very well (because I informed him last week) that the Branch has established an Exemptions Committee to deal with exemption applications from students who would be seriously disadvantaged by the withholding of results. He has visited the website and the online exemption application form. He is deliberately and unnecessarily attempting to alarm students and prey on their insecurities – and he accuses the NTEU of using students for political ends! At least we’re not threatening them with deportation, as he seems to be doing!
Tim Sprague: “The University [Management] will do all it can to minimise any harm to students.”
Rubbish. If it was doing all it can to minimise harm to students, the Management would be negotiating in good faith on the key claims around pay and job security.
More on bargaining later – don’t want to indulge in “lengthy diatribe or polemic”.