Friday, 1 May 2020

CPSU NSW weekly update: University of Wollongong

In response to the current health crisis and its unprecedented impact on the tertiary education sector, the CPSU NSW had set up an online forum for you to ask questions, seek help and stay informed:

Here is our first weekly update where we try to answer your questions, but, as always, if you would like to speak with a delegate or one of our industrial staff, leave your name and best contact details when submitting your enquiry.

CPSU Questions & Answers to UoW Covid-19 Response

Will there be forced redundancies? Voluntary redundancies?

  • We have not been formally advised by UoW about whether there will be forced or voluntary redundancies. We will be seeking advice on if this is currently being considered. It is likely that this would be part of the suite of options that UoW is considering. The CPSU NSW will be advocating to keep as many jobs as possible.

Job security
What will happen to staff whose jobs have been most impacted, such as staff who work in student mobility?

  • It is the view of the CPSU NSW that these positions will be essential to the ongoing success of UoW when travel bans are lifted. We have been advocating for the temporary use of staff who may have experienced a reduction in workload in areas of UoW where there has been an increase in workload. We will seek advice on specific areas affected from UoW. The CPSU will be advocating to keep as many jobs as possible.

How can I take leave to do my part to contribute to savings? Like you were saying, I am not in favour of a pay cut at our level and a reduction of hours isn’t feasible for my role – likely the same for many. So taking leave is something I am more than happy to consider and it would be useful to get a clear guide from UoW management about how they see this working best to contribute to savings.

  • We will be seeking advice from UoW Management on these issues. The CPSU NSW is seeking details on UoW finances.

Salary issues
Will the salary increases in the Enterprise Agreement be postponed?

  • The salary increases in the EA are embedded as law unless there is a renegotiation of the EA that is voted on by staff and accepted by Fair Work Australia. However legislation has passed where to change an EA there is only a one-day viewing period prior to a vote. The CPSU NSW is writing to the VC to get an undertaking to have a seven-day period (as normal) prior to any voting for changes.

If salary cuts or delayed increments are on the table, this will have a significant impact on superannuation, particularly for those in a defined benefit with fewer than five years until retirement. This will impact the average salary over five years which is the basis of the retirement benefit calculation. How can this be addressed?

  • There have been no formal requests for delayed increments as yet. If this is proposed we will ask UoW to provide us with detailed information regarding how this will affect retirement benefit calculation. We will insist a formal response to this (and if required insist UoW seek a formal response from UniSuper).

In short, surely it is not reasonable or equitable to suggest that permanent staff at UoW consider a pay-cut or reducing of hours?

  • We do not consider this to be reasonable. The CPSU NSW believes that there are many options available to UoW prior to this being necessary.

Whilst the big-earners have opted as a group to take a 20 per cent pay cut, surely this cannot be enforced for main staff at UoW. Nor is it possible to manage an environment where some people choose to do this and others don’t?

  • Salaries are set through the EA. Changes to salary cannot be enforced without a change to this EA. The CPSU NSW will be making strong representation to stop any move to reduce the income of our members.

What superannuation implications would there be taking a paycut?

  • In short, we do not know. The CPSU NSW will not be endorsing a pay cut for our members.

Are we not helping UoW already by working from home, paying for electricity and internet usage? Our weekly wage has already gone down with these extra costs.

  • There would be cost savings from UoW having empty campuses. There is a cost burden for staff working from home. Though the Australian Tax Office if offering a special deduction, the cost of working from home is being born by members. We will be asking UoW for details on the cost savings on campuses from staff working from home.

We understand it is a very stressful time for university staff. It is tremendously important for professional staff to stick together and negotiate from a position of collective strength. The CPSU NSW has a long history with UoW and we are proud to have shared in the university’s evolution and success. If you know anyone that is not a member, ask them to JOIN TODAY. If you would like a union representative to organise a meeting with you and your team to talk about your rights, please email .