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British unis may go private
"Government talks have begun in Britain that could lead to universities becoming private institutions able to raise fees above the new $13,400 (£9,000) cap.
Officials are exploring whether universities could keep state funding for research, but opt out of government cash for teaching and student loans."

The Australian newspaper report, 28 February, 2012 "British unis may go private".

Unis attack staff through Fair Work review
"Universities are subject to unjustified industrial action, unions are blocking flexible workplace arrangements designed to suit staff and employee rights are defined “too broadly” according to peak employer body the Higher Education Industrial Association. The charges are in the HEIA submission, on behalf of the 31 public universities it representsto the Fair Work Act Review now underway."

In a complaint reminiscent of the Howard government's WorkChoices the HEIA went on:
“workplace rights are defined too broadly, especially when coupled with the reverse onus of proof borne by the employer in most instances and the fact that there is no time-limit on claims being made except in dismissal cases.”

"The HEIA also asserts unions block flexible work arrangements, designed to suit the circumstances of individual staff."

The Australian newspaper report, 20 February, 2012 "Unis attack Fair Work Act: say workplace rights defined "too broadly".

Uncapped university offers will stretch staff to the limit
"A 4% increase in the latest round of offers at Australian universities will place overstretched teaching staff under more strain and lower the quality of education for ballooning student ranks, the higher education union warned today".
Not only teaching staff but support staff as well will be asked to stretch themselves further. University working conditions are likley to suffer unless there is strong union vigilence.

Read The Conversation, 14 February, 2012 "Uncapped university offers will stretch teaching staff to the limit".

University superannuation at risk
"A key scheme of one of Australia's biggest superannuation funds is short of money, leaving more than 100,000 people facing the prospect of having their super slashed.
"At universities across Australia just about everyone from the boffins to the backroom staff is in a super scheme called UniSuper.
The fund has more than 450,000 members and about $30 billion in assets under management. Its members thought they were in a scheme that was secure but that is no longer the case."

Read the 14 December 2011 ABC article "Key fund's woes puts super at risk for thousands".
Read the 15 December 2011 ABC article "NTEU Union vows to fight for UniSuper benefits."

Academic jobs on the line as uni cuts cloth to fit budget shortfall
"Staff at the University of Sydney have been warned to brace for budget cuts – including redundancies for “non-performing academics” – vice-chancellor Michael Spence has announced in a video statement.".
“We can no longer carry members of the university who are not pulling their weight: it is simply too expensive to do so,” he said. Spence said that the 2011 budget had planned for a 7 per cent growth in fee income, based on a 9.6 per cent average in the previous five years, but this had not eventuated."

Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 22 November, 2011"Academic jobs on the line as uni cuts cloth to fit budget shortfall ".

Read also the Australian newspaper report on Macquarie University , 16 November, 2011
"Cuts to jobs and student contact hours are being discussed at Macquarie University as 2012 budgets are framed. One working budget shows the arts faculty with a $2.35 million deficit while the science faculty is proposing that seven academic positions be done away with, according to Macquarie sources.
Staff have been told the university expects another surplus for this year and that next year a 4 per cent increase in domestic students is projected to offset a $15m decline in overseas student fees. However, management complains of falling revenues and staff believe the financial stress has been exacerbated by Macquarie’s hospital project and vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz’s recruitment of research stars.
"Macquarie looks at cuts to jobs, hours".

Sydney University Jobs at risk
"The campaign against job cuts at the University of Sydney is important to staff and students at universities across the country, according Greens Education Spokesman Lee Rhiannon."
"The protest was over plans to cut academic and general staff to fund infrastructure and IT projects Vice Chancellor Michael Spence says are essential.
Dr Spence plans to cut the salary budget by 7.5 per cent, widely expected to translate to 150 academic and 190 general staff positions."

Read the 6 December 2011 article in the Australian "Sydney University risks reputation: Greens slam Michael Spence".
Read the 1 December 2011 article in the Australian "Sydney staff reject job cuts: union challenges VC's plan."

Agreements not ‘second rate’
The CPSU members at UNSW and Macquarie University have voted in favour of new Professional Staff Agreements. NTEU members have voted not to endorse the agreements. It is worth noting that the CPSU only covers general staff in universities, but the NTEU covers both general and academic staff. At both UNSW and Macquarie University, there are separate agreements for each group of staff.

The CPSU approach at UNSW has been to use the conversion to permanent provisions contained within the existing and the new (when available) agreement to increase job security for staff. In addition the new agreement has introduced a category of Contingent Funding Research Contract staff, which does actually provide greater job security for staff who are employed on fixed term contracts due to the funding being from external granting bodies. The Professional Staff agreement delivers for the first time in any enterprise agreement paid grandparent leave and support for people in domestic violence situations. Maternity leave has been increased to 36 weeks which is an additional 12 weeks leave on top of the current 26 week entitlement.

The pay rises that have been agreed to make UNSW staff only second to Sydney University in terms of relative pay. Casual loadings have been increased and part time staff who work more than their ordinary hours will also receive an additional loading.

CPSU members at UNSW are pleased with the new agreement suggesting that for the first time it includes provisions for staff at all stages of their life and supports staff dealing with various issues so they can stay in their job. CPSU Branch Vice President, and President of the PSA/CPSU Higher Education Representative Council, Adrianne Harris, says “the new agreement is a great improvement on the current agreement, and is not as the NTEU is telling us a second class agreement. We have limited the university’s ability to shutdown at any stage and have enshrined University holidays as entitlements, as well as introducing new paid leave provisions for the first time in any agreement in the country. Staff will be free to take their leave at a time and pattern of their choosing.”

The NTEU has the support of CPSU members in achieving their academic agreement, and general staff support the NTEU campaign for an acceptable enterprise agreement for academic staff.
See article in Sydney Morning Herald.

Domestic Violence Clause introduced to Enterprise Bargaining
Members of the UNSW PSA/CPSU Branch have introduced a historic clause into the 2010 round of enterprise bargaining. This clause, if agreed to, will be the first Enterprise Agreement in Australia that provides industrial support for people dealing with issues of domestic and family violence. The clause aims to introduce:

  • 20 days paid leave;
  • Support at the workplace – e.g., security escorts, changing phone numbers, not being listed in the phone directory and access to a workplace employee assistance provider;
  • Training for Human Resource practitioners on how to deal with the issue.
    The aim of the clause is to help people dealing with domestic violence keep a job and to deal with the impact of domestic violence.

    The UNSW PSA/CPSU Branch hosted a public forum on Thursday 14 March to introduce the clause to university management and to discuss the impact of domestic and family violence on people in the workplace. The forum was attended by the Executive Director, UNSW University Services, Tanya Plibersek (Minister for the Status of Women), Elizabeth Broderick (Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner) and Ged Kearny (Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation and next President of the ACTU). Speaking at the forum Branch Vice President, Adrianne Harris said “it’s vital our enterprise agreements deal with issues such as domestic violence, so all employees can access assistance when and if required and feel less pressure to resign.”

    The clause will be discussed during the next enterprise bargaining meeting.

    The Progressive PSA supports the development of clauses for industrial instruments that mean that people don’t have to leave their life at the gate before entering the workplace. We congratulate the delegates and members for their work in developing this proposal.
    See article in an ABC news report.

    UNSW plan to slash general staff
    August 2006 - New Vice Chancellor Fred Hilmer says he wants to outsource 100 cleaning and security personnel and use voluntary redundancies to eliminate another 300-400 general staff positions. He says the money will be diverted to research. Adrienne Harris, CPSU Branch President, says "Staff are angry and ready to fight. They don’t see why they have to bear the brunt of bad management, poor leadership and the callous indifference of the Federal Government." "The Uni appears to have been planning this for some time but has waited until the new enterprise agreement took effect." "Fundamental job security and consultative provisions have been removed by the Government's Work Choices laws and HEWRRs". "The potential magnitude of job loss, the lack of information and the proposed time frame, is devastating and extreme. If this is allowed to happen it will have a crippling effect on the University, which made a $16.589 million surplus in 2005, and threatens its ability to continue as a competitive and viable educational institution."

    "The University is legally obliged to provide details of the proposed changes and must consider all options to avoid job losses. We don’t believe they have done so. The University has failed to disclose what services will be lost, what the new structure will be or how students and the community will be affected. We will be encouraging all staff, students and the community to support our campaign to fight the cuts." he Union will be holding an all General Staff forum on Tuesday 29 August and will campaign to fight the loss of jobs at the University. See article in Sydney Morning Herald.

    University IR laws pass Senate
    November 2005 - On the same day the Federal Government rammed its IR laws through the lower House, its bill linking higher education funding to IR changes passed through the Senate. The Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Workplace Relations Requirements) Bill 2005, cuts public funding to universities by $280 million by 2007 unless collective agreements made after April 2005 comply with the 'Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements' (HEWRRs). HEWRRS requires that:

  • AWAs be offered to all new employees from April this year, and to all other employees by August next year;
  • agreements must include a clause allowing AWAs to prevail over certified agreements (previously a pre-existine collective agreement prevailed);
  • unions' may only bargaining or involve themselves in policies and practices where they are invited by an "affected employee";
  • no agreement limits the forms or mix of employment arrangements (eg restricting the proportion of casual or untenured staff);
  • performance pay schemes are introduced; and
  • no Government funds are used to fund union salaries, facilities, or activities (ie we will have to rent offices on campuses).

    UNSW Day of Action
    UNSW Day of Action
    UNSW CPSU members rally on 29 June 2005

    In a show of strength more than 150 UNSW General staff rallied in support of collective bargaining and in opposition to individual workplace agreements. This is an excellent turn out given the lousy weather, the fact that university is not in session and that staff were asked to turn out only a few weeks ago for the National Day of Action. It is a clear sign that our message is beginning to get out. Another postive sign is that the campaign is generating a new layer of activists. Congratulations to the members and organisers for their excellent work.

    National Day of Action - Unis and TAFE
    1 June 2005 - Across the nation members of all campus unions rallied to protest the Coalition's attempt to force Universities and TAFE to adopt their anti-worker policies.

    Sydney Institute of TAFE and UTS members rally at Broadway
    SIT Ultimo Campus
    Sydney Institute of TAFE members meet at Ultimo campus
    Belmore Park
    Sydney Uni, UTS and SIT (TAFE) members arrive at Belmore Park in Sydney
    Lindsay O'Keefe, UNSW CPSU Branch President addresses staff at UNSW
    Tom McDonald, former National Secretary of the BWIU addresses staff at UNSW
    UNSW staff discuss the impact of the proposed legislation over a BBQ

    Stop works and rallies across Australia
    Eight universities had stop work actions and all others participated in rallies and public meetings. See the article from The Australian newspaper (1 June 05).

    Gov't coerces Unis to offer individual work contracts
    The Commonwealth Government has announced its second attempt to force Universities to adopt anti-worker arrangements. Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews announced that, effective immediately, Universities must ensure the following if they want to receive Commonwealth funds:
    • all new employees to be offered AWAs (individual contracts) and by 31 August 2006 all other employees must be offered an AWA.
    • every new certified agreement must contain a clause allowing AWAs to operate to the exclusion of the certified agreement. This is a trick that has been used by other Commonwealth employers to overcome the 'first in time' principle. Under this principle, if a certified agreement is made before an AWA is signed then it prevails over the AWA to the extent that there is any inconsistency.
    • unions be bypassed in any consultation unless the affected member requests union representation.
    • certified agreements and policies not limit the number or proportion of staff that are fixed term, part time or casual, nor limit in any way university decisions about course offerings.
    (published 29 April 05)

    CPSU members to fight Newcastle job cuts
    The CPSU has established a campaign team to fight the 20% job cuts announced by University management. Meetings of staff, students and concerned community groups will be called to minimise job losses.

    CPSU Branch President, Trevor White says: "If this is allowed to happen it will have a crippling effect on the University of Newcastle and threatens it's ability to continue as a competitive and viable educational institution. It will also have a massive flow on effect costing the Hunter region at least $20 million"

    The CPSU has coverage of over 1500 General Staff at the University of Newcastle. "Staff are angry but they are prepared to fight. They don't see why they have to bear the brunt of bad management, poor leadership and the callous indifference of the Federal Government." (May 2005)

    Straight from the horses mouth
    Read what the Commonwealth Government thinks about industrial relations in Universities. The website of the Minister for Workplace Relations has 2 interesting articles:
    1. Evolution or Revolution: Workplace relations; leadership and management in higher education; and
    2. Modernising workplace relations in our universities

    Commonwealth takeover of Univerisities?
    Education Minister, Brendan Nelson has released a discussion paper proposing the transfer of primary legislative responsibility of universities from the states to the Commonwealth. Please read the paper and send us your thoughts to us at

    NSW Gov't legislation a threat to University autonomy
    The NSW Government proposes to increase the number of appointments it can make to University governing boards at the expense of positions elected by graduates.

    Uni staff unhappy with pay offer
    Academic and general staff at the University of Wollongong are protesting at graduation ceremonies over the employer's second rate pay offer.

    UNSW increases HECS by 25%
    UNSW is the latest Uni to raise student fees but students say the money raised isn't worth the pain it inflicts on them.

    NT Uni Strike
    More than 1500 staff at Charles Darwin University are threatening industrial action because the university is unwilling to meet their demands for a pay rise.

    $663 HECS to be extracted from students over the next 4 years
    University students nationwide will pay an extra $663 million in HECS fees over the next four years under the Federal Government's new higher education policy, according to education department estimates.

    Enterprise bargaining: summary of all unis.
    Follow this link for a summary of where each university is up to with enterprise bargaining.

    UTS Enterprise Agreement
    March 2004
    General staff at the University of Technology, Sydney have voted to accept an enterprise agreement providing for a 19% increase, compounded to 20.5 per cent over three years, with 20 weeks paid parental leave. This compares with 18% and 36 weeks parental leave at the University of Sydney. The agreement also makes provision for 20 weeks paid maternity leave (up from 12) and $4000 of retraining on return to work.

    PSA officials who double as representatives of the state branch of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) have recommended that general staff accept the offer despite the NTEU having concerns about the amount of maternity leave (ANU offers 26 weeks) and replacement of disciplinary committees with a single investigating officer.

    The proposed agreement will place more emphais on redeployment than retrenchment and will lift the maximum redundancy payment from 52 to 78 weeks.

    36 weeks Maternity Leave for Sydney Uni – full story
    Unions have secured the equivalent of 36 weeks' maternity leave on full pay for academic and general staff at Sydney University. The deal triples the current entitlements. It provides for 14 weeks' paid maternity leave, followed by 38 weeks at 60 per cent pay. It will also provide a 20 per cent pay rise over three years, a cap on casual staff numbers and a commitment to limit teaching loads.

    More like a business
    Gerard Noonan
    Sydney Morning Herald
    December 6
    Life in the lecture theatre or laboratory for the nation's 31,000 lecturers, tutors and researchers will not be radically changed in the immediate aftermath of the Nelson changes but the increased commercialisation of the sector will inevitably change academic life.

    Brendan Nelson failed in his bid to force universities to offer AWAs to their academic staff before being entitled to more than $400 million of the overall package.

    Earthquake in academia
    Sydney Morning Herald
    December 6
    Outline of changes in the aftermath of the Nelson changes.

    ALP pledges to abolish full-fee places
    Samantha Maiden
    The Australian
    December 6
    Higher education changes that increase HECS fees and allow rich students to "queue jump" into university would be overturned under a Labor government.

    Flagging the $2.4 billion Nelson reform package as a major election issue, Labor deputy leader Jenny Macklin said she would abolish $100,000 full-fee degrees for students.

    Uni funding peril: secret report
    Sydney Morning Herald
    November 06, 2003
    Commonwealth Government documents show it had been warned that forcing universities to rely on increased student fees would lead them to cut courses and close campuses.

    Fed’s Workplace Relations Plan Stymied at the Australian National University
    Heads of Agreement for the Australian National University Signed

    Unions at the Australian National University have completed formal negotiations for a new closed and comprehensive Enterprise Agreement pre-empting any attempts by the Federal Government to impose the compulsory introduction of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) into the Higher Education workforce. While union activity over the past weeks, including industrial action at campuses such as Sydney University, has significantly weakened the government’s chances of imposng the draconian workplace changes linked to further university funding, the ANU agreement has effectively stymied their application at that worksite. More

    Uni unions united in their fight against Coalition's attacks
    The Federal Government's attempts to link university funding with removal of worker and union entitlements is meeting resistance from campus unions. The draconian requirements, include a ban on limiting casual staff, and the stripping of entitlements such as maternity leave and redundancy payments. The Government also wants to force the introduction of Australian workplace agreements (AWA’s) on universities. They want to ban pattern bargaining and make legitimate forms of industrial action illegal. The Government also says it wants to introduce a “Voluntary Student Unionism” bill which would effectively silence the political voice of students.

    However a campaign by the PSA/CPSU and the National Tertiary Education Union (supported by five other unions: the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union; Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union; Australian Education Union; Australian Services Union; and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) plus the National Union of Students appears to be forcing a backdown on some of the proposals.

    Indications remain that the Government is determined to force its requirements that universities offer staff AWA’s as part of any enterprise bargaining agreement. This issue in particular, makes a mockery of the Governments supposed interest in “freedom of association” and coupled with the punitive VSU legislation, it is a strong indication of this Government's determination to weaken the voice of unions across the country.

    All universities in NSW were subject to strike action by academic and general staff. Click here for pictures of the 16 October 2003 Universities rally.

    Monk Aims Muscle at Unis
    Workers Online
    26 September 2003
    Eleventh-hour Federal government intervention has scuttled a deal for staff at Australia’s oldest university provoking workers into direct action to protect their pay and conditions.

    Sydney Uni staff to strike over workplace changes
    Sydney Morning Herald
    September 25 2003
    By Aban Contractor and Linda Doherty
    Strikes and a range of work bans will begin soon at universities across the country in response to the Federal Government's attempts to impose workplace changes in exchange for $404 million in funding.

    Uni changes won't last, inquiry told
    Sydney Morning Herald
    September 23 2003
    By Aban Contractor
    The Federal Government's controversial higher education plan was "not sustainable", the vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, Gavin Brown, told a Senate inquiry yesterday.

    In its current form the plan would be eroded by inflation and universities would still need periodic injections of additional funds to survive, he said.

    Fostering flexible and responsive workplaces?
    The relevant section of the recent policy review of university funding by the Federal Government (laughingly titled: Our Universities, Backing Australia’s Future) contains elements that directly links funding levels to compliance by university administrations to the Governments Workplace reforms.

    Click here for the full Policy Paper.

    Higher Education Report for the 2003-2005 Triennium
    For a PDF version of the entire 2003-2005 Report of the proposed changes to Higher Education click here.

    ACU Agreement
    This is the agreement that made headlines for its enhancements to maternity leave. View the Australian Catholic University General Staff Agreement

    Workplace Bullying
    The Qld Dept of Industrial Relations has released an issues paper on Workplace Bullying setting out the grounds for its bullying taskforce inquiry. Details:

    Workplace Bullying and harassment is a serious occupational health and safety issue as well as an equal employment opportunity issue. See our Bullying and Harassment page for resources & information

    Women & the public sector
    Women, Unions and the NSW Public Sector

    Read, Contribute, Participate
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    Contact the Progressive PSA at:

    Progressive PSA brings together rank and file trade union activists in the CPSU (SPSF Branch) and the Public Service Association of New South Wales.

    We work for

    • improved and more equitable pay
    • greater job security
    • sustainable jobs in a sustainable environment
    • a democratic and strong union