The University of Newcastle, Australia

Enterprise bargaining update

Friday, 31 January 2014

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

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Dear Colleagues,

Enterprise Bargaining has begun again for 2014 with the parties committed to meeting regularly and frequently over the next two months to work toward agreement by the end of March. The parties met for three hours on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon and worked through some of the areas of importance for the parties. These areas were performance management, managing change, staff development and categories of employment including arrangements around fixed term and continuing appointments. Discussions have progressed in a constructive and collegiate way, with appropriate progress being made this week.

It continues to be the intention of the University during Enterprise Bargaining 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 continues to consider and explore with the parties a variety of possible scenarios that might better align our Enterprise Agreement with our vision and strategic plan. We are also very conscious of addressing areas of concern for staff and streamlining processes that cause inefficiency and frustration.

Over the past two days, the following has been discussed.

Performance management

Discussion focused on aligning clauses to the refreshed Performance Review and Development (PRD) process.

Organisational Change

Whilst early in Enterprise Bargaining discussions, the University had indicated the need for a number of changes to streamline processes for managing organisational change, the University presented a modified clause which is substantially the same as the current arrangement. The key change is a proposed addition that ensures that changes effecting only one staff member can be managed with appropriate consultation, but also can be managed with appropriate sensitivity and flexibility to meet the needs of the individual staff member and the University.

Staff development

The parties discussed the desire of staff to have transparency regarding decisions on staff development to ensure effective resource management by the University and equity for staff members. This was an area of common intent for all the parties and the University agreed to draft a clause for the parties to consider regarding this.

Transitional arrangements for academics without PhDs

The University provided a clause describing the introduction of a "Transitional Doctoral Program". This was in response to the NTEU's claim for transition arrangements for academics without PhDs. This was positively received by the parties and it was agreed that at the next meeting the University would provide further information on the numbers of academics without PhDs and the processes already in place for supporting this development to further refine the proposed approach.

Categories of Employment

The University proposed relatively minor changes to the clauses within categories of employment to align the wording across the three agreements in regard to the right to request conversion of fixed term arrangements to continuing. The University proposed two additional categories of fixed term employment consistent with findings from a review during 2013. These additional categories are included within other agreements within the sector and are likely to provide increased employment opportunities as they cover areas that are not currently accommodated within our agreement and hence the University is limited in its ability to offer employment in these scenarios.

The University is also seeking to clarify the wording around contingent employment arrangements to recognise that references to "external" or "operating grant" are unclear, given the nature of the Commonwealth funding arrangements for universities that have changed over the past several years.

The parties are meeting again the week after next, to invest the same amount of time that has been invested this week. The next meeting will focus on a number of the other important issues for the parties, as well as revisit the areas that were discussed this week in order to move these towards agreement.

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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