CPSU NSW members would have read with disappointment today reports in the media regarding a deal that is being struck between the NTEU and Universities Australia to cut salaries in order to address the budgetary crisis of varying degrees facing the tertiary education sector.
To be clear from the outset, the CPSU NSW had no part in negotiating this ‘deal’. The CPSU NSW does not support this ‘deal’. And the CPSU NSW will do all it can to see this ‘deal’ is never implemented in universities where it has membership.
This is not, as it is being portrayed by the NTEU, a rescue package for the most vulnerable workers, but rather a sacrifice of the terms and conditions of employment of our members – Professional Staff in usually permanent roles on lower grades – in part, for those of casually employed academics.
If ever there was a time that the NTEU has shown where its priorities lay, this is it.
This clandestine agreement between the NTEU and the employers’ peak body proposes radical solutions such as salary cuts, stand-downs and redundancies before exploring what the CPSU NSW believes are obvious and less intrusive measures that would keep our universities alive and functioning during the crisis – ceasing capital works, exploring borrowing options, halting staff travel, terminating contingent labour such as casuals, consultants and contractors, and even mandatory leave.
Instead the NTEU has pursued a pact that opens the door to an employer wish list of more punitive measures, which also, not coincidentally, secures their position at the negotiating table at the expense of the voices of other organisations such as ours.
The CPSU NSW says all other measures, including those detailed above, must be explored before salary cuts are considered. And this must be negotiated at a local level by all affected parties, not imposed from above through secretive processes.
Members can be assured, however, that any radical changes such as those proposed in the agreement published in the media today will require a ballot of affected employees. This will be a ballot that we will not support until our approach is adopted and exhausted.
Never before have your terms and conditions of employment, which we have developed and negotiated over many years, been under such a threat from such unusual quarters. But also never before has your membership of our union been more important in protecting them.
The CPSU NSW recognises that among our membership are some of the lowest-paid workers in the sector. We look forward to working with and for you in defending your working lives from this extraordinary assault.