UNSW staff to impose results bans

November 12, 2010

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has voted for further industrial action, as vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer still refuses to negotiate in good faith on improvements to job security, pay and other conditions for staff.

A November 10 NTEU meeting voted for an indefinite ban on processing student results at the end of the second semester.

This is the second time staff have voted to carry out results bans this year. The dispute made headlines in July after management’s decision to stand down about 70 staff without pay.

At the time, NTEU members agreed to lift the ban on the understanding that management would negotiate on the issue of fixed-term employment. But management again refused to negotiate.

In view of management’s “disingenuous approach to our lawful industrial action last session”, NTEU members also resolved that “the granting of any exemptions [to the results bans] will be contingent on completion of Agreements”.

UNSW NTEU branch president Sarah Gregson said: “Fred Hilmer wants to run the university like any other corporation, to the detriment of the wellbeing of staff and students.”

The union is concerned about the unregulated use of fixed-term contracts and casual employment at the university.

The NTEU said staff were simply demanding conditions similar to those agreed at 30 other Australian universities.

The union is also seeking agreement on rates of pay, a maximum workload, improvements to paid parental leave and Indigenous employment targets.

The NTEU, which covers academic and non-academic staff on universities, has also mounted a legal challenge in Fair Work Australia to the implementation of an enterprise agreement for UNSW professional and technical staff. It has challenged the agreement because it is inferior to the safety net Modern Award for higher education staff.

However, another union, the Community and Public Sector Union, which covers only non-academic staff, supports the agreement. The NTEU is concerned the agreement sets a bad precedent by enshrining inferior conditions for non-academic staff, making it harder to regain parity of pay and conditions with academic staff in the future.

The outcome of the FWA ruling on the professional and technical staff agreement is still pending.

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