Discussion on Managing Change was deferred to next meeting.
A key issue in this meeting was that the university distributed its responses to CPSU claims tabled at previous meetings only late in the afternoon on the day prior to this meeting. We were therefore not able to properly consider the university’s positions, nor provide a considered response to them. We made an issue of this, and the university has undertaken to provide us with at least three days’ notice in future. These issues will now be held over to the next meeting for proper response.
The following issues were discussed:
The CPSU will fight these moves.
While the unions argued for strengthening the anti-bullying processes within the agreement, the university has concluded its current processes, which exist in policy rather than the agreement, are appropriate and has indicated an intention to stick to this. It has agreed to commit, in words at least, to eliminating workplace bullying and has provided examples of what, in law, is and is not bullying.
The university has completely reworked the flexible working hours arrangements.
The CPSU submits that the intention of the flexible working hours arrangements currently in the Enterprise Agreement is outlined by the following in Schedule 4, clause 12:
As far as is practicable, the pattern of hours worked to accrue time and take flexible time off, will be agree between each staff member and their supervisor.
The word practicable aligns closely with ‘possible’ or ‘feasible’ and therefore provides strong emphasis on the need to reach a workable agreement with staff in terms of the pattern of their worked hours.
All of this has been jettisoned by the university in its currently tabled clause, which consistently reduces input from staff and increases the authority of the supervisor, while our proposed clauses were pushing in precisely the opposite direction because the current clauses are already heavily skewed in the university’s favour.
Where previously patterns of hours worked were to be agreed, and regulatory mechanisms ensured that such agreement must be genuinely sought, under the university’s proposed flexi scheme, you need to ask your supervisor each and every time you need to work beyond your ordinary hours, even by a minute. Such flexibility!
This is not a flexibility scheme, it is a mire of inflexibility that will prove as unworkable as it will be unpopular. It compares unfavourably with the flex schemes of other NSW universities and seems set to enable heavy workloads when it suits management and inflexibility for staff at all other times, including when they wish to have access to their flex leave.
You have to hand it to the university – it sure knows how to manufacture significant problems out of problem-free situations!
The CPSU believes flexible working hours clauses should provide flexibility to staff of the university and we will not be shifted on this belief.
Finally, the university has rejected the CPSU’s suggested clauses allowing for a staff say in the way flexible working hours local arrangements are created and amended, again ensuring the university has blanket control of this area in an environment of falling staffing resources and rising workloads.
These changes should be of significant concern to those members currently working on a flexible working hours arrangement.
The CPSU argued for an increase in compassionate leave allowance from two days to five days, and for the leave to be accessible in the event of the death or serious illness of a close friend, colleague or pet.
A number of leave clauses grant leave where a staff members’ “immediate family” is affected by illness or other misfortune. The CPSU has requested that the university include ‘Aboriginal kinship group’ in the agreement definition of ‘immediate family’.
The unions have successfully argued that partners who become the primary care-givers of children after birth or adoption should have greater access to paid partner leave.
The CPSU seems to have agreement from the university with regard to measures to ensure access to safe work during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and with regard to including information from the Fair Work Act on allowing staff on parental leave access to ‘keeping in touch days’ should they request that.
The university has agreed to reduce the conversion qualification period from 24 months for professional staff, back to 12 months of continuous service.
While the university would not agree to notify each casual staff member when their length of service became long enough to apply for conversion to ongoing work, it did agree to the CPSU’s request to send an email to all current casual staff twice a year reminding them of the conversion clauses in the Enterprise Agreement.
The university adopted the clauses put forward by the CPSU to prevent managers from manipulating the hours worked by casual staff in order to avoid qualification for conversion to continuing work and have agreed that semester breaks do not represent a break from regular and systematic work.
The university has agreed to allow casual staff who were engaged without a merit-based competitive selection process to qualify for conversion to continuing employment after 24 months’ service.
The university has proposed a clause that adopts part of the CPSU’s suggested clause about casual employment, in which it will seek to reduce its use of casual or sessional employment and provide annual reports on the number of FTE staff employed on a casual basis each year. However, it has not agreed to adopt a statement acknowledging that ongoing employment provides the greatest security and wellbeing for staff and their families.
The next Bargaining Meeting is scheduled for 29 June 2017.