NTEU Bargaining Team
Linda Cargill (NTEU Industrial Organiser)
Contact the branch via email: [email protected] and Social Media
Clare Danaher (NTEU Industrial Officer)
Brad Elphinstone (Swinburne NTEU Branch Executive Committee, Academic)
Leilani Fatupaito (Swinburne NTEU Branch Executive Committee, Professional)
Gabe Gooding (NTEU National Vice President)
Julie Kimber (Swinburne NTEU Branch President, Academic)
Daniel Kruk (Swinburne NTEU Branch Secretary, Professional)
Michael Leach (Swinburne NTEU Branch Vice President, Academic)
Bargaining Meeting #26
Discussion centred on Academic Workloads, and while there has been some movement including the reintroduction of a 15 hour maximum weekly teaching cap, there was also significant disagreement over the executive's proposals for education only staff. Despite demonstrating how the proposed workloads for education only staff are unworkable, the executive's team was unable to explain how EE specialists could cover workload without excessive class and marking time.
Bargaining Meetings #23-25
The executive's bargaining team began discussion with concessions on NTEU proposals for leave (including expanded compassionate, surrogacy, end of pregnancy, and rights to unpaid, leave. While there are some good wins here, there has been little movement on proposals for reduced redundancy rights for both professional and academic staff. The executive has also been slow to move on the significant disagreements we share on their proposed change clause.
Bargaining Meeting #22
The parties met to discuss amendments to the executive's proposals on performance, misconduct and probation. Some movement here with the executive's bargaining team speaking to amendments they propose making. Significant sticking points include the absence of proper appeal rights, fairness, and natural justice process, remain.
Bargaining Meetings #19-21
The parties met to go over the NTEU's traffic light analysis of the Executive's proposed EA. Members have been sent the NTEU clause by clause analysis of this draft (which is available to read at top left of this page). We encourage all members to share this information with their colleagues. Discussions centred on the executive's slash-and-burn changes to the current agreement – a wholesale downgrading of our conditions. While we seek improvements to the current agreement and a fair pay rise, the executive is insistent on taking a wrecking ball to protections and conditions of employment.
Bargaining Meeting #18
We continued our discussions on NTEU proposals. This meeting focussed on Work From Home Rights, and the necessity of tying Workload clauses to Health & Safety provisions to prevent unsafe workloads and work intensification. It was clear that the executive's bargaining representatives had no desire to move on these proposals. See our bargaining update here, and the executive's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #17
At this meeting we discussed NTEU proposals on Academic Freedom, the JCC, limitations on the use of Student Evaluations, and Sabbaticals. There appears to be little meaningful in our exchanges with the executive's representatives unable or unwilling to consider proposals at the table. See our bargaining update here, and the executive's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #16
In addition to our continued discussion on leave arrangements, this week's bargaining focussed on the executive's proposals to reduce redundancy entitlements.See our bargaining update here, and the executive's proposals here.
Bargaining Meetings #13-15
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. The executive is proposing to abolish a raft of leave options and to increase the Christmas Shut Down period. In addition we discussed Academic Workloads, Sessional Pay, and more. See our bargaining update here, and the executive's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #12
Bargaining resumed this week with discussions on probation and dispute resolution. We are making some headway on these issues, but we need to wait to see the new drafts of these clauses. Next week we return to academic workloads, a key issue for academic members, and will meet twice weekly for the next two weeks to get through our respective proposals. See management's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #11
NTEU put forward claims relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment. We also requested from the executive's bargaining team a full written log of all the changes they are seeking for a new agreement. Gabe Gooding, the national assistant secretary of the union, took on the role of lead negotiator as Clare Danaher is on long service leave. See management's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #10
Our last meeting before a break in bargaining over the school holiday period. Discussions this week extended on management's proposal to introduce new types of employment and to increase its capacity to employ new staff on contract roles as well as new annualised and part-year contracts. One of the union's key claims is to increase job security for all staff. Management's proposals with respect to types of employment appear to do the opposite. Our university has the highest precarious employment rate (61.5% according to the 2021 Annual Report) of all Victorian Universities as it is. These proposals would enable the university to employ people on fixed-term contracts where they can't employ them now. The other concerning aspect is a proposal that appears to allow management to terminate a fixed-term contract before its expiry date. See management's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #9
A challenging meeting with management as we continued discussions on professional staff working conditions and reclassification. We also questioned management's proposal for a 'Funded Ongoing' role for researchers. This new employment type would allow management to state that it has met its obligations to the problem of precarity while providing an ongoing role in (virtual) name only. Staff could apply for these positions after five years if they demonstrate that they have at least one year of funding available. Once this funding has run out, the staff member would be made redundant. The only positive here is that they would receive a redundancy pay-out; however, it is based on the National Employment Standards (NES) and not the Enterprise Agreement. We raised a further objection to the proposed addition of an employment type that would allow 'industry' experts to undertake all forms of academic work. See management's proposals here.
Bargaining Meeting #8
Another tense meeting with management as we continued discussions on proposed changes to Academic Workloads. We discussed NTEU proposed changes, while management maintained its focus on Education Only roles. NTEU claims include increases to associated time for teaching and convening, maintenance of unallocated time, an increased minimum for research and/or scholarship, and more. We also started our discussions on caps to the number of casual positions and will pick up on this again after the Easter break. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting #7
Difficult and sometimes terse discussions on proposed changes to Academic Workloads. We talked through both management and the NTEU proposed changes. Management's changes would see an annual 105 hour increase to the number of allocated hours; the introduction of trimesters; the removal of the clause that caps teaching hours from the agreement; and the introduction of new education-focussed roles, with an 80% teaching load over 42-44 weeks, and no provision to enable disciplinary currency. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting #6
Discussions centred on management's proposed changes to performance and misconduct and consultation about change. The language around performance and misconduct removes rights to representation and shifts the performance improvement process to one with a heavy disciplinary focus. The current collegiate joint committee that examines misconduct allegations would be abolished and replaced by a management-appointed investigator. Management's proposals would also allow them to decide whether a staff member is stood down without pay. Since investigations can take several weeks to resolve, this would be unfair and unjust. The most concerning aspect of management’s proposed changes to the consultation about change clause is that consultation would only occur after a decision has been made, not before a decision is made, as is now the case. Essentially this removes the ability of staff to play a meaningful role in any change process. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting #5
We shared our professional staff workload clause. Our primary aim is to ensure that management takes its occupational health and safety responsibilities seriously and stops turning a blind eye to work intensification. Over the past several years, our surveys of members demonstrate significant overwork and stress (see here). We have an opportunity to fix this. We also discussed probation and revisited performance and development clauses. Subsequent to the meeting management shared with us their amended wording on shiftwork, overtime, and travel. While these provisions have softened, the hugely problematic proposed change to increase the span of hours to 8.30 pm is yet to be worked through. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting #4
Discussions this week centred on clauses relating to Probation, Performance and Development, Disciplinary procedures, Payment of salaries, and Progression through incremental structure. Management's proposals would see the removal of employee protections, including evidentiary requirements for allegations of poor performance, tying pay scale increments to performance, removing the joint union-management Misconduct Investigations Committee and more. The upshot would be an unprecedented increase in managerial prerogative. During the meeting, our objections to the stepping back of conditions was made clear. After considerable discussion, management have agreed to revisit these clauses with a view to reintroducing employee protections. We will wait until the next meeting to report on whether this has in fact happened. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting # 3
A robust discussion on management's proposals for a new Section 3: Working Arrangements – Professional Employees. It is already apparent that management's desire to simplify the agreement is code for increased managerial prerogative and reduced employment protections. See management's proposals here, and our member bulletin here.
Bargaining Meeting # 2
The NTEU industrial officer, Clare Denaher, presented our log (which you can read in the link below). Management's proposals were for the most part relatively abstract, so we will need to wait to see the detail. For a handful of others, however, their objectives are clear. These include:
- Professional staff: a change to the span of standard working hours to 7.00 am to 8.30 pm Monday to Friday. This proposal was couched in terms of increased flexibility; however, if management is successful this would mean the avoidance of penalty rates for work done between 7-8 am and 6.00-8.30 pm. It would also be highly disruptive to the home life of staff with caring responsibilities and to staff who ordinarily engage in activities outside of work.
- Academic staff: the introduction of teaching only 'educational specialist' positions. Again, the detail here needs to be included but will be discussed when we start to discuss academic workloads.
- Professional staff: management indicated they would like to remove the reclassification committee and shift its responsibilities to P & C. The reclassification committee is a hugely important mechanism for professional staff to apply for recognition of increased responsibility in their role and to increase their HEW level.
- Academic staff: the introduction of a new employment provision enabling the employment of 'professional practice' professors on an annualised basis. The detail in this provision is still being determined.
- Professional & Academic staff: Simplifying the managing change clause. This currently requires management to consult with employees and the union on major changes including to work processes and redundancies. A simplified clause will likely water down this requirement.
- Professional & Academic staff: streamlining the process relating to probation and misconduct. As with much of the material presented, we will know more about what is intended in future weeks.
- Professional & Academic staff: paid leave for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees for cultural and ceremonial purposes.
- Professional & Academic Staff: Extension of purchased leave arrangements (48/52) for all employees.
- Professional & Academic staff: a more streamlined process when redundancies are announced and a reduction in redundancy pay.
- The heavy emphasis on simplifying the next Agreement is welcome and unwelcome news. As Michael Leach, one of the NTEU bargaining representatives, noted, where management sees complexity, we see employee protections. We will be fighting hard to ensure no loss in the job protections provided to staff.