The University of Newcastle, Australia

Enterprise bargaining update

Monday, 16 December 2013

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

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Dear colleagues,

As you are aware, Enterprise Bargaining has been underway throughout 2013. I am pleased to report that negotiations have unfolded in a very collegiate and cooperative way, which reflects the professionalism of all parties as we work towards agreement.

The intention of the University during Enterprise Bargaining is to ensure that our Enterprise Agreement supports our aspirations to build our performance, our reputation, and our global leadership role, while continuing to provide a rewarding, stimulating and supportive place to work. During negotiations, the University has considered a variety of possible scenarios that might better align our Enterprise Agreement with our vision and strategic plan.

Across the year we have provided regular updates on the matters under discussion. These, together with the principles the University is working towards for the next Enterprise Agreement, and more recently an assessment of the cost of various claims, can be found on the Enterprise Bargaining website.

At today's Enterprise Bargaining meeting we continued to explore options to move towards agreement across a range of areas. Below is a summary of the University's proposed approach:

Enhanced professional staff development

The University is ready to work with the unions on Future Workforce initiatives that are associated with the development of professional staff. The University has an exemplary tradition of supporting staff development and we will aim to enhance our overall approach, in the context of New Directions, to effectively accommodate both individual and institutional needs.

Transitional arrangements for academics without PhDs

To support Future Workforce strategy 1.5, which aims to increase the proportion of ongoing academic staff who hold a doctoral qualification to above 80 per cent, the University is considering the introduction of a "Transitional Doctoral Program". This is contingent on other discussions around fixed-term arrangements within the Agreement to allow for greater workforce agility as we respond to the changing higher education landscape.

Additional forms of leave

Leave provisions are an important part of ensuring our staff have the flexibility needed to support their physical and mental health and that of their family, as well as paternal, cultural and study needs. To augment the generous leave arrangements already available to staff, consideration is being given to defence force leave arrangements and a number of other provisions that clarify when existing personal leave entitlements can be taken.

Increased union rights

The University does not support proposed changes from the unions that are aimed to increase union representation in some operational discussions and decision-making scenarios. The University recognises the rights of staff to freedom of association, but views it as inappropriate to assume that unions will be the chosen representative for all staff.

Salary and Superannuation

The claims regarding superannuation that have been made by the unions equate to an additional $32m in cost over three years. The University has clearly indicated that it is not possible to support an increase in superannuation at this time, particularly given that the superannuation arrangements in place for the vast majority of our staff are very generous by community standards.

The University has indicated that it is prepared to offer a fair salary increase, recognising the fiscal constraint within the sector. Details around salary increases will be discussed in the new year and will depend on the cost of other items currently under consideration in the Enterprise Agreement discussions.

Redeployment, redundancy and separation

The University is seeking agreement on a refreshed model for redeployment, redundancy and separation benefits. The proposed model supports a greater balance between the costs of separations and the enhanced provision of comprehensive outplacement, job search, retraining, and relocation assistance.

Streamlining processes

Greater flexibility and efficiency is being sought by the University in managing change, and greater clarity in managing performance, misconduct and serious misconduct clauses within the Agreement, while ensuring that appropriate levels of consultation are maintained.

Academic workload

The current arrangements within the Enterprise Agreement (for Academic staff) regarding academic workload strikes an appropriate balance between providing parameters and guidelines to ensure fairness and some consistency across the University, whilst also recognising the needs of diverse Schools and Faculties to develop an approach that meets their specific needs in consultation with staff. The University recognises that the implementation of workload models may occasionally cause anomalous outcomes for individual staff and is willing to consider review mechanisms for individuals where required.

Teacher staff structure

The University is seeking to adjust the Enterprise Agreement to correctly reflect the structures in place where we employ teachers under the current Teachers Enterprise Agreement.

Performance management

In early enterprise bargaining discussions, the University requested changes to clauses regarding performance management. Based on feedback from staff representatives, the University is happy to retain the current clauses with minimal changes to reflect the refreshed Performance Review and Development (PRD) process.

It is important that all staff have the opportunity to contribute to the Enterprise Bargaining process. If you would like to provide your feedback, please email EB-feedback@newcastle.edu.au

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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