Sessionals – Disputes over Late Pay, Casualisation, Pay for All Work
NTEU referred several disputes over the rights and conditions of employment for sessionals to Fair Work Australia in June. Two Hearings have been held and a further Hearing is scheduled for Thursday. At this stage, NTEU is yet to achieve a satisfactory outcome on any of these disputes.
Following the Hearing on 2nd July in FWA, Senior Management of the University was considering a recommendation of FWA in the late pay dispute. Some four weeks later, this recommendation is yet to be acted on and so NTEU will have to refer the matter back to FWA for arbitration. NTEU is not confident that sessional staff will be paid on time as some in HR continue to try and blame sessional staff for the late payments.
This Thursday a special Conference in FWA will conciliate the massive over casualization in academic work at Swinburne University and how many ongoing positions need to be created to help deal with this serious issue. NTEU applied for this special Hearing when secret documents revealed there had been a massive 25% growth in sessional employment in just 6 months.
Payment for All Work
Last week FWA held a Conference to deal with an NTEU application to resolve serious underpayments by the University in relation to sessionals teaching an FLSS first year unit. The University has agreed to no longer compel sessional staff to attend weekly meetings without pay, and will now pay separately for moderation.
Of course, this is the law. Unfortunately, the document which had been provided by the University to the staff revealed numerous (more than 10) breaches of the Union Collective Agreement and other laws.
NTEU required the University to make backpayments for 1st Semester to ensure members are paid for the work they performed. The University has refused to make these payments (despite acknowledging the system would change) and in remarkable circumstances the HR Officer rescinded the copy of the document which exposed the breaches, snatching it back in the FWA Hearing.
These kinds of behaviours indicate the Senior Management of the University is not prepared to take ownership of a system which exploits purportedly casual staff. Whilst we are not surprised, clearly the recent statements of the Vice Chancellor will be exposed to scrutiny in coming weeks as sessional staff are due to be paid for their work in second semester, and as a range of managers are cross examined in FWA.
Payment for Training
The Senior Management of the University has made no further statements about sessional staff being properly paid for the compulsory online training modules. NTEU will shortly refer this matter to FWA in an attempt to finally compel the University to pay for all hours worked.