Latest update from Cecile Dutreix, NTEU VP Professional, UniSA
As a professional staff member, and one of the members of the Enterprise Bargaining team for NTEU members, there are a number of areas I am particularly passionate about and have been fighting for at the bargaining table. These include:
- Enhanced rights to work from home for professional staff. Professional staff worked above and beyond during the COVID crisis to keep universities running with the least disruption for other staff and students. When the university needed us to work from home we were trusted to do so, and we repaid that trust by working even longer hours for the good of all. Why then are we no longer trusted to work from home? Why does the disparity between academic and professional staff continue?
- Improved access to Domestic Violence Leave. Prior to the Fair Work Commission ruling regarding Domestic Violence (DV) Leave we have been negotiating to improve the DV Leave policy to make it more accessible. The previous clause had in built barriers that made it difficult for people to access at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. This has proven by the very low take-up of DV Leave compared to percentage of people experiencing DV each year. Our aim is to address this so that people access this leave if they need it.
- Fair access to funded professional development for all professional staff. Many professional staff are part of registered professions such as, nursing, accountancy, physiotherapy, law, social work etc. Imperative to our registration is financial membership to our profession association and a minimum amount of professional development. Considering many of these professional staff are also actually teaching students it is also expected that their scholarship is up to date. However, there is no guaranteed funding for any of these requirements, unlike we would all receive for any government or non-government organisation position.
- Casual staff. Casual staff are one of the most disadvantaged within the university ‘family’. There are too many inequities suffered by casual staff to list here. However, with the university relying on such a huge number of casual staff it’s obvious this is for financial reasons rather than any pedagogical or other argument. And those financial gains are not funneling to staff…
- Gender Affirmation Leave. Our union is inclusive and recognises and celebrates the diversity within society. The provision of Gender Affirmation Leave is a matter of human rights and social justice. Our aim is that Gender Affirmation Leave is accessible for those who require it.
- Finally, the elephant in the room…Salary! The financial cost of COVID-19 to the university has not been as dire as university management predicted, to the contrary, the annual report from the university this year (2021-2022) showed there was an operating surplus of $52 million and net assets have risen from $99 million to $1.4 billion. Inflation is ever increasing with the RBA stating that it's expected to be 8% for the calendar year. With the cost of living increasing, the university wants to give us an effective pay cut and is offering only 3% p/a. For the university not to offer a salary increase that recognises cost of living pressures is offensive considering its strong financial position and senior management and VC salaries.
In writing this I have been reminded that I am committed to every single clause we have put on the table and I cannot possibly list them all here. After 19 months of (mostly) fortnightly meetings I have gained insight and expertise about all our clauses for fair pay and conditions. Each and every clause is important to different groups at the university; professional and general staff, casual staff and academic staff, all of which are represented at the table.
We have now come to the time when the university needs to actually negotiate on the issues that are of paramount importance to our members. Creeping up to 2 years of bargaining is not acceptable. Please, vote yes to the Protected Action Ballot.
Here is a story about numbers
By the end of 2024, electricity in South Australia is tipped to rise by 56%, gas by 40%.
Groceries, parking, petrol, housing, insurance, and interest rates are all tipped to keep going up – with the annual inflation rate this quarter alone shooting past forecasts to top out at 7.3% and future estimates putting it even higher by the end of the year.
Is how much management thinks our pay should rise per annum. 3% was what they “offered” us after almost two years of EBA negotiations. And 15.2 hours of “wellness leave” for fixed-term and ongoing staff.
Is the annual pay increase our members are asking for this year, next year and in 2024. We’re not being greedy. We’re asking the same university management who tell us we are valuable to show us we’re valued by helping us to at least keep up with inflation.
The amount of cash the University had at the end of 2021.
The University’s net assets at the end of 2021.
That’s the amount our VC gets paid. Annually.
That’s how many months it has been since the NTEU started good-faith bargaining with management. Secure jobs/casual conversion, more flexibility for staff to work from home and real wage rises are the main issues our membership decided were most important, and our representatives have been advocating for.
That’s the number of protected actions approved by the Fair Work Commission. If we want management to sit up and take notice, we will need as many of our members as possible to take the actions they feel comfortable with.
In support of reaching an Enterprise Agreement with the University of South Australia, we have asked members to authorise industrial action against the employer, to be taken separately, partially, concurrently and/or consecutively, on any number of occasions, in the form of:
a) Whilst working, making statements explaining why members of the union are taking industrial action?
b) Sending all emails in upper case without punctuation for specified periods of 24 hours?
c) A ban on responding to phone calls or emails outside 9am-5pm weekdays?
d) A ban on working overtime for specified periods of 24 hours?
e) An indefinite ban on performing duties outside of those explicitly mentioned in your position description?
f) A ban on attendance at UniSA physical campuses for a series of specified periods of 24 hours?
g) Stoppages of work of between 5 minutes and 24 hours in duration?
h) Indefinite stoppages of work?