As you would know either from Bernard’s post or your own diligent reading of the SMH, the VC was moved to respond very defensively in Monday’s letters page to some allegations about his pay and the status of bargaining at Macquarie.
Here are some points you might like to consider.
1. Steven Schwartz claims that the allegation of a 60% pay rise for him is “a wrong and absurd figment” of a letter-writer’s imagination.
The Macquarie University Annual Reports (2007-9) show the following:
Top Executive (assumed to be VC) remuneration 2006 (range) $510 000 - $519 999
Top Executive (assumed to be VC) remuneration 2007 (range) $540 000 - $549 999
Top Executive (assumed to be VC) remuneration 2008 (range) $750 000 - $759 999
Top Executive (assumed to be VC) remuneration 2009 (range) $810 000 - $819 999
Even if he was paid at the top point of the range in 2006 and the bottom in 2009, this would be a rise of $290 000, or 55.8%. (If we do the opposite, the increase would be $310 000, which is indeed 60.8%.) If we take the mid-point of each range, the estimated increase is $300 000, or 58.2%. If we take the bottom of each range, it’s 58.8%, and if we take the top it’s 57.7%. So 60% is not an “absurd” claim at all, since it has to be somewhere between 55.8% and 60.8% over three years.
We know from the mess that the budget is in that arithmetic is not the Executive’s strong point, but whatever the actual increase is, it’s still a lot more than the 4% per annum they’re offering to staff!!!
2. Steven Schwartz claims that the NTEU has displayed “intransigence” in this dispute.
The truth is that the NTEU team realised some weeks ago that negotiations were reaching the point where we would have to make some trade-offs, and so put a range of without-prejudice offers on the table in relation to some key claims. This included dropping some claims altogether in exchange for management movement on job security issues (principally, limits to casualisation and fixed-term employment and maintenance of redundancy review provisions). We had already adjusted our pay claim from 26% over three years to 21% over three-and-a-half years – a significant concession.
The NTEU then expected the Management Team (who seemed very grateful to be shown a possible way forward, given their apparent inability to talk sense into the VC) to come back with a counter-offer at the next meeting. Instead we received a clear “no” to everything other than our own concessions! Oh yes, and a challenge to have a "show of strength" - which we then delivered very effectively with the results bans.
So perhaps Steven Schwartz would care to explain why the NTEU Team that tried to seek a compromise solution in order to finalise negotiations is “intransigent”, while the Management Team that has said “no” for 18 months with no change in its position at all is somehow the reasonable one that really cares for staff conditions and welfare!
3. Steven Schwartz claims that the NTEU has held up the Professional Staff agreement “by making trivial technical objections to Fair Work Australia.”
The fact is that Steven Schwartz wouldn’t know what our objections to the proposed Professional Staff Agreement are, because the case hasn’t been heard yet – for reasons outside our control. However, we are happy to inform you that the objections we have are far from “trivial” – unless you think that workers being worse off overall under the proposed agreement than they would be under the relevant Award is “trivial”.
Oddly enough, our members don’t regard the undermining of their job security and pay rates as “trivial”. They don’t regard the loss of staff participation in important review processes as “trivial”. They don’t regard loss of rights around probation and classification as “trivial”. But then, they’re not earning $800 000 a year, so they WOULD see the world a little differently, wouldn’t they?
Note: Fixed term employment for Professional Staff has increased by 113% since the Howard Government outlawed regulation of it – the regulation has since been restored in the Award but Professor Schwartz doesn’t think Professional Staff deserve Award conditions. He thinks they can be bought off with $1000 – less than the price of a cup of coffee a week over the term of the proposed Agreement. Well, our members aren’t fooled by that – and we believe that if they’d been properly informed, other staff wouldn’t have been either.
It seems that Steven Schwartz would rather attempt to seek public sympathy by defending himself in the letters pages of the Sydney Morning Herald than take full responsibility for his management of the University by actually facing us in bargaining. Just as he won’t take responsibility for budget decisions by actually answering emails from people affected by them. Just as he won’t dare hold another Town Hall meeting to face the anger of staff who feel justifiably insulted by the 4% per annum pay offer, inadequate Faculty budgets and the continued lack of respect the Executive shows for staff and students.