Tuesday, 17 May 2022

UNSW bulletin – CPSU NSW’s table claim for “no forced retrenchments”

A fortnightly bargaining session was held with representatives of the University on Wednesday last week.

CPSU NSW’s table claim for “no forced retrenchments”

The CPSU NSW took the opportunity to present our proposed Change Management Clause, the centre piece of which is a claim for no forced retrenchments during the life of the new Agreement. The University’s representatives were initially dismissive of this idea. However, the CPSU NSW made a strong case, and the University accordingly had to engage with it. Such arrangements have existed at UNSW in the past.

Our proposed Clause has a couple of other details attached to it:

  • Changing the wording of the ‘salary maintenance’ provision to clarify that all permanent staff who end up in a lower-level position because of a restructure receive salary maintenance for the first year. In 2020 the University insisted that only staff who either didn’t do an Expression of Interest, or were unsuccessful in an EOI, were eligible for salary maintenance. They relied on a limited reading of the relevant provision of the Agreement to justify this.
  • Some additional provisions to help staff who do not find a role in a new structure be successfully redeployed elsewhere in the University.

University’s proposed Dispute Resolution Provision (very important)

The University’s ‘Guiding Principles and Proposed Changes’ document, sent by a link to all staff earlier this year, contains the suggestion that there be in the Dispute Resolution procedures:

a requirement for both parties to consent to refer matters to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration.

The University has now included this in a proposed clause for the new Enterprise Agreement. Whilst we have not yet fully debated it in Bargaining meetings, an initial view of this is that it would make the Agreement almost unenforceable by the Unions who are a party to it. If the provision comes in, the Unions (or anyone else) would presumably have to have the consent of the employer itself to take action to properly apply the Agreement on behalf of its members.

We will discuss this further with the University, to find out exactly what its management is thinking and how it might work. However, the CPSU NSW, along with other Unions involved in bargaining, is extremely concerned about this proposal.

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