Friday, 30 October 2020

Sydney University: update on Voluntary Redundancy Program

Voluntary Redundancy Program – Oct 2020 (PDF version)

Professional Staff will be aware the university will soon issue a Final Change Plan for the Voluntary Redundancy Program. The CPSU NSW consulted its members to gauge their views, discussed the proposal at length and provided feedback to the university.

The CPSU NSW notes:

  • the university has not ruled out involuntary redundancies next year
  • the university does not see Voluntary Redundancies (VRs) as a solution to its financial problems
  • that VRs are principally seen as a way of freeing up some expenditure (currently frozen) on equipment, infrastructure, employment and travel.

For these reasons the CPSU NSW does not oppose the VRs – on the proviso that workload is accounted for in post-VR operations. It would seem perverse to prevent people going if they can do so with a financial package, particularly as this may help to reduce the need for forced redundancies.

The CPSU NSW also emphasised the university’s own figures show it actually experienced an INCREASE in student revenue this year ($46 million more than last year). Income is only down against EXPECTED, pre-COVID, estimated revenue, and we feel this weakens any argument for widespread staffing reductions, as does the fact that we have already been pared to the bone in terms of staffing due to previous rounds of restructures. Any attempt by the university to retain pre-COVID operational objectives that require the pre-COVID projected revenue figures would represent an unaltered intention to expand university activities during COVID.

It is also possible that, as occurred this year, the international student intake next year will be higher than expected and too hasty a pruning of staff could have dire consequences.

Therefore, the CPSU NSW has made it clear the union would trenchantly oppose forced redundancies for the harm they would do to individuals, their families, to the service provision, teaching and reputation of the university. Hence, the CPSU NSW’s position on VRs is very much conditional on:

  • activity and service provision in work units being scaled to meet staffing levels
  • workload issues in work units being considered, managed, monitored and actioned at a central not local level, where VRs result in staffing decline
  • expansion of activity being minimised while COVID conditions pertain
  • exiting staff not being replaced by casual labour
  • further negotiations with the CPSU NSW on cost-saving approaches in advance of involuntary job cuts.

Furthermore, the CPSU NSW emphasised the enhanced Professional Staff workload clauses we negotiated at the last Enterprise Bargaining negotiations and that the CPSU NSW will be working with Professional Staff across the University to utilise this workplace provisions these should staff feel their workload becomes unreasonable.

Join the Professional Staff union: the CPSU NSW

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on our public universities. As the union exclusively representing university Professional Staff, we are committed to working with the sector to support a world-class, sustainable and successful higher education industry in Australia, where secure jobs are maintained and valued.

There has never been a more important time to join the CPSU NSW and make your voice heard.

Never before have your terms and conditions of employment 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 is a member-led, democratic union. Membership gives you a real voice and a vote in determining your pay and working conditions. Branch-by-branch, university-by-university. You decide.

The CPSU NSW always puts the interests of Professional Staff first.

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YOUR CPSU NSW Branch Committee

Branch President Grant Wheeler
Vice President Ivan Coates
Secretary Patrick O’Mara
Assistant Secretary Al Yap
Women’s Officer Ruth Livingstone
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