Consultation in action at UQ - General Staff Consultative Committee
General Staff Consultative Committee Report
Michael McNally, Industrial Officer
As we are still finalising a new staff rep, your Organiser, Lachlan, and I attended the first General Staff Consultative Committee meeting for 2011 on Thursday February 4. Along with other representatives from other unions we met with management to discuss issues affecting General (soon to be Professional) Staff. The items discussed were:
- The Flood
- Library Reorganisation
- Finance & Business Services Restructure
- New Agreement Implementation
Director of HR, Shard Lorenzo, provided us with a summary of what the University had done to assist staff as a result of the flood. This includes the Special Paid Leave that all continuing, fixed-term and casuals engaged to work during the period the University was closed (11/1 to 19/1) as well as prior to the 11th and post the 19th for those who could not come to work due to flooding. The University has provided interest-free short-term loans of up to approx. $10,000 to individual staff affected by the flood. There has also been group and individual counselling provided to staff that want it. This counselling support will be ongoing.
The University is to be commended for its excellent response towards staff in this time of need. Lachlan suggested that a special celebratory lunchtime barbeque be held to acknowledge the incredible effort of staff (particularly from P&F) who came in to work and clean and protect University property while the rest of the staff were away from the campuses. Management said they would take that suggestion on board.
The physical movement of books and journals associated with the Library reorganisation has been completed. Staff are currently being relocated to their new libraries. The Dorothy Hill Physical Sciences & Engineering Library will reopen on Monday and the Biol Library has new student spaces where the majority of the collection used to be. After last year’s enquiries by unions into the proliferation of fixed-term appointments in the Library, 33 previously fixed-term or casual positions have been converted to continuing jobs.
I asked about the changes to Liaison Librarians and were told that while the number of research-focused LLs had decreased, there had been an overall increase in the number of LLs. Combined with the fact that these staff will no longer perform Reference Desk duties management said that the service overall would be improved. The start of the Semester will be the point at which we find out if that is indeed the case.
The number of Librarians providing Information Literacy courses has decreased, but there has been an upgrading of online infolit services for first-year students. We were told that where academics have requested face-to-face infolit classes for their classes these have been scheduled.
We requested that an updated budget for the Library be provided to staff in the area and their unions. Management agreed to do so.
Finance & Business Services Restructure
At the end of last year an initial change proposal was circulated in Finance & Business Services as a prelude to a restructure there, which may result in some job losses. The NTEU provided some feedback on the initial change proposal and a formal change proposal was to come out in January. At the GSCC we were advised that as a result of feedback a number of positions earmarked for redundancy would now remain in the new structure, albeit with some changes to duties. This is a great outcome.
Staff have now been told that the restructure has been “put on hold” for a month or so as many staff were affected by the flood and there is a need over the short term for more finance work as the University compiles financial information relating to its insurance claim. We were told that the Standing Committee for Change Management would be called for the beginning of March. We will keep members posted.
New Agreement Implementation
With the new Enterprise Agreement likely to be approved soon (Fair Work Australia has indicated perhaps as early as next week) we discussed the requirements in the new Agreement for implementation. The Agreement requires some minor changes to the Consultative Committees, but more importantly Working Parties will be established to:
- Review the process for evaluation and classification for Professional Staff (to be set up within 3 months of approval of the Agreement)
- Develop Guidelines for the allocation of workloads to Professional Staff (within 3 months)
- Review the Guidelines for the allocation of workloads to Academic Staff (within 6 months)
- Review the Inter-campus Transfer and Travel Policy (within 12 months)
The new requirement in the Agreement for supervisor training is already being implemented, with the materials for training being re-written to reflect the requirements of the new Agreement.
On an academic note, the NTEU has suggested that advice about the new arrangements for paid marking for casual academic staff be sent out to all course coordinators. Management agreed this was a good idea and I have provided them with a draft statement.
The meeting was conducted in an open and consultative fashion. This bodes well for a cooperative working relationship with UQ management.
There is a lot of work ahead for members, elected officers, your Organiser, Lachlan, and your Industrial Officer, me. Through your hard work and resolve we will shortly have a great new Agreement. We should remember, however, that the Agreement is just a piece of paper and it is up to us collectively to ensure that it is implemented properly and that the benefits flow to the staff, who are after all the University.
If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
National Tertiary Education Union
tel: 07 3362 8200