Pay offer substandard: Sydney staff

The National Tertiary Education Union is planning industrial action against the University of Sydney following the failure to come to an agreement over enterprise bargaining negotiations.
In a letter to members, Michael Thomson, president of the University of Sydney NTEU branch, said the union notified the university management of their plans for industrial action because they failed to “properly” engage in enterprise bargaining.
Following five months of meetings in 2012, management tabled their proposed agreement and circulated a link to it to all staff. The union said the university’s proposed agreement is “a serious insult to staff”.
“For the second Christmas in a row University of Sydney staff will go to the break knowing the management has no commitment to staff. Last year it was job cuts, this year it is a substandard enterprise agreement,” Thomson said in the letter sent to members late last year.
Thomson said the management proposed an annual salary increase of 2 per cent, which is less than half of what Central Queensland University and Curtin University have agreed to for the next four years.
Thomson said under the university management proposal there would be less job security, a reduction in sick leave entitlements and an undermining of superannuation provisions. He said there also wouldn’t be a limit on academic casuals, and that there would be fewer provisions for fixed-term staff to convert to ongoing positions.
Thomson said this year the NTEU will campaign for and “get a good enterprise agreement”.
He said members have already voted for the branch to organise a protected industrial action ballot. The NTEU will apply for a ballot this month.
A spokesman for the University of Sydney said the NTEU’s claim for a 7 per cent pay increase is “totally unrealistic” and shows a “complete lack of understanding of both the university’s financial situation and of community expectations”.
He said university staff are currently the highest paid in the tertiary sector and even without any increase will remain so for some time.
Increases in salaries and benefits in the NSW public sector are capped at 2.5 per cent, he added.
The spokesman said the university is keen to reach a “realistic” agreement as soon as possible but said the unions are not willing to make any concessions in their claims in return for salary increases.

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