Staff angry at university management's 'contempt'
By Daniel Jardine
SYDNEY — Macquarie University staff reacted angrily, at a general meeting on November 18, to management's rejection of a union enterprise bargaining offer, claiming it showed utter contempt for staff and for the university's ability to perform quality teaching and research.
At the meeting, called by the National Tertiary Education Industry Union, 170 staff passed a motion that any new agreement must have pay rates at least equal to those at the University of Sydney, must ensure that there are no further cuts to jobs and must protect staff entitlements. They rejected all items in a management counterproposal.
Staff also called a two hour stop-work meeting for November 25 to consider bans on, amongst other things, the processing of exam results.
On November 9, 12 weeks into fruitless negotiations for a new agreement, the NTEU's enterprise bargaining team at Macquarie had put a new proposal to management which included a pay rise of approximately 14% over three years.
The NTEU bargaining team made it clear to management that this was a one-off offer and that if it was rejected, industrial action would be recommended to members in pursuit of the original 19% pay claim.
The university management told the union on November 16 that it not only rejected the proposal but also intended to implement a large number of measures unacceptable to staff.
These included the government's proposal for three-semester years, extending teaching days to six per week (from 8am), promoting individual contracts and removing union preference clauses from future enterprise agreements.
Even though a 12% pay increase over three years has been agreed to at Sydney, Victoria University of Technology and Newcastle, Macquarie management has informed staff that they will not receive any similar-sized pay rise because it could be funded only by job cuts.
Detailed research into the university budget by the NTEU has found that student numbers and income have increased substantially while overall staff numbers have decreased.
Since 1996, university income has increased by 12% while staff numbers have decreased by 15%. The staff-student ratio has decreased by 36%. Meanwhile, the pay rise allowed for in the previous enterprise agreement had been only 15%.