BY SARAH CLEARY
HOBART — General staff at the University of Tasmania voted to accept a 12.54 percent pay rise over the next three years after rejecting an 8% rise in a non-union staff ballot in March. Casual staff will be worse off under the agreement.
In meetings held across the university on July 24-25, 288 staff members voted in favour of the agreement and 66 voted against. The university employs 1200 general staff.
The agreement is the culmination of talks between university management and three of the four general staff unions, the Community and Public Sector Union, the Health Services Union and the Miscellaneous Workers Union.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) which also covers general staff was cut out of negotiations by the university administration following the defeat of the non-union ballot in March. NTEU industrial officer Jo Fox said that most of the discussions had occurred informally.
The NTEU urged general staff to vote against the agreement. Fox told Green Left Weekly that the union was unhappy with what the agreement traded off. She cited the new low casual rate which could see the wages of casual non-students drop by $1.37 an hour. The agreement has no minimum wage for casual student staff.
The agreement also replaces the existing award. Fox said this would make it easier for the administration to implement fixed contracts which undermine job security.
Shua Garfield of the university's Resistance club told Green Left that it was difficult for unions to convince students and other casual workers to join a union if unions did not defend their interests, along with other workers.