Sydney acts on ‘irregular’ job moves

 The fight over staff cuts at Australia’s oldest uni is heating up with claims that women are being discriminated against. 
Sydney University staff who feel they have been forced to accept redundancy or reduced duties have been told by the vice-chancellor they can withdraw from any agreement they have made with their managers. The move comes as senior staff raised concerns with Campus Review that job cuts at the Group of Eight university would have the effect of discriminating against female academics and heads of schools confirmed lists of targeted staff had been drawn up as early as last November.
In an email to staff late Thursday, vice-chancellor Michael Spence rejected union claims a “staff freeze” was being implemented and said the university remained committed to “ensuring the change management process is undertaken in full compliance with the Enterprise Agreement”. Dr Spence vowed to investigate any non-voluntary discussions with staff that breached the enterprise agreement and said any “arrangements that do not meet these requirements will not be permitted”.
He added if there were “any situations in which staff believe that, during the course of the change consultation process, they have entered into arrangements that they now wish to withdraw from” they should contact management by Wednesday so “we can ensure that their proposed arrangements do not proceed”.
He also rejected claims a staff freeze had been introduced.
“No staff freeze has been put in place and there is no intention to do so,” he wrote.  “If there are local level arrangements which the NTEU believes amount to a freeze, these will be investigated and a clarifying email will be sent to deans, heads of schools and directors.”
The email follows a meeting with NTEU officials on Wednesday in which the union claimed university deans were already implementing proposed staff cuts in breach of the enterprise agreement. In November, Sydney University announced it was cutting up to 340 jobs from academic and general staff in response to budget pressures with an expected saving of more than $63 million.
NTEU branch president Michael Thomson said the email effectively was an admission the university had been making offers to staff. He could not say whether he expected any staff to now step forward because “people are scared”. “They’ve been tapped on the shoulder by the dean and told ‘that’s it’,” he said.

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