The University of Newcastle, Australia

Enterprise bargaining update

Friday, 11 April 2014

Get the latest update from the Enterprise Bargaining Team about our new staff enterprise agreements.

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Dear Colleagues,

The Enterprise Bargaining team met with staff bargaining representatives again this week for two afternoons in an attempt to move negotiations towards conclusion. The University had been hopeful that we would conclude negotiations over the next month to enable a salary increase to be provided to staff. The unions had previously also indicated a desire to conclude negotiations in a similar timeframe but disappointingly some of the stated urgency was not translated to action and agreement during this week.

At the last meeting, the University was asked to present a number of clauses that had been previously discussed, with the aim of reaching resolution. These were in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, performance management, categories of employment, staff development and organisational change. Over the past two days we have worked through these clauses with the unions but there are a number of outstanding matters that we continue to return to in spite of compromise and alternative positions being put forward.

Yesterday, to progress matters, the University indicated a preparedness to table a draft document summarising the various components that may form the basis of an agreement, including a salary increase of up to 3% per annum and an approach to addressing a number of what we understood from previous discussions were the unions' primary claims. Disappointingly the NTEU indicated that they felt a need for yet more time to discuss their claims again before moving towards conclusion.

Whilst significant time has been allocated to considering, discussing and presenting solutions to the extensive range of union claims, the University has agreed that the next scheduled meetings after Easter will be available for the unions to again work through any claims they would like the opportunity to discuss again.

The unfortunate consequence of the NTEU's approach is that it is now unlikely we will be able to reach agreement prior to May. The difficulty with this timing is that the Government's May budget could contain further funding challenges for the Higher Education Sector that will change the context for enterprise bargaining negotiations. We already know that the efficiency dividend applied to the lower than estimated indexation rate of our major funding sources for 2014 and 2015 will result in revenue growth below 3%. Any further policy decisions in the Government's May budget which further impact on the University's revenue will reasonably require the University to reconsider what enterprise bargaining outcome is affordable. This would be necessary in order to ensure the financial sustainability of the University of Newcastle and protect staff jobs into the future.

The University remains committed to reaching an outcome as soon as practical rather than protracting the bargaining process and extending the period of uncertainty for our staff.

If you would like to provide your feedback, please email

Best wishes,

Professor Andrew Parfitt

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Professor John Germov

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Arts)

Sharon Champness

Director, People and Workforce Strategy

On behalf of the University Enterprise Bargaining Team

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