Bargaining Updates # 13-15

Our Swinburne – An Agreement that Works for You

Bargaining continues, but we are no closer to agreeing on the direction and substance of a new Higher Education Enterprise Agreement. 

Over the past ten days, we have met with the executive's representatives three times to discuss leave arrangements, academic workloads, job security, dispute resolution procedures, and sessional pay rates. 

Under the guise of having a contemporary and fair agreement, the executive proposes removing many of the leave categories in the current agreement. This includes leave to contest elections, repatriation leave, household goods leave, court appearance leave, arbitration leave, and leave for sporting competitions. Most surprisingly, given that we live in the era of Covid, they have also proposed removing Isolation Leave. 

Other claims put on the table by the executive will have wide implications, especially their proposal to increase the Christmas shutdown period to up to 10 days from the 7 days currently in place. This is a clumsy attempt to reduce staff annual leave balances and is particularly unacceptable when so many staff ran down their annual leave balances during Covid.

While we agree on the need for greater flexibility in when we can take Long Service Leave, our respective positions remain apart: ours, that we should have the capacity to take LSL in chunks from a minimum of one day; theirs, that we should have a minimum of one week. We don’t think this goes far enough to allow staff with caring responsibilities to structure their long service leave in a way that works for them and their families.

We remain apart on the question of academic workloads too. Our proposal provides all ongoing and contract staff with a minimum of 20% self-directed service allocation to reflect current work. We have also argued for including all elements of academic work in any future workload model (for example, HDR panels) and increasing allocations for work where the current allocations are woefully inadequate (for example, in unit convenorship and WIL supervision and engagement). 

To date, the executive has not shifted on their intention to remove the current 10% unallocated time from workloads and maintains their position that education-only roles (which we have not agreed to) would incur an 80% teaching load spread across 42-44 weeks. In addition, they have proposed abolishing the developed and specialised lecture rates for casual academics. The basic lecture rate is entirely inappropriate when a casual staff member delivers their own developed material. Academics on casual contracts must be compensated for that work, just as ongoing staff are allocated workload to do the same. 

We also presented our proposals for a secure work program at Swinburne that would introduce a cap on casual employment and provide ongoing employment to current casual and contract staff. The executive's bargaining representatives asked questions about these proposals but did not provide a reply.


There is more to say, but we will provide a fuller update at member meetings next week. An NTEU meeting of professional staff (all welcome, but professional staff issues prioritised) will be held on Thursday, 15 June from 12.30 -1.30 pm. Please RSVP here for the Zoom link and a calendar invite.

While an NTEU meeting of academic staff (all welcome, but academic staff issues prioritised) will be held on Friday, 16 June from 12.30-1.30 pm. Please RSVP here for the Zoom link and a calendar invite.

There are several industrial bans now in place:
The ban on the submission of metrics relating to Swinburne KPIs and Objectives, Programs and Performance Indicators;
A ban on working outside your usual hours of work;
A ban on participation in Course Review;
A ban on participation in Unit Panels;
A ban on participation in staff appraisal processes, including the YPD (from Friday, 9 June 2023).

Lastly, a reminder that the branch has opened a survey on Swinburne's new Defence Strategy. This strategy prioritises defence research at our university. It was introduced without consultation. Feedback to date suggests that this is a deeply unpopular move. So that we can present a representative sample of opinions to the executive, we need all members to have their say. Please fill in the short NTEU survey here. 


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