Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Southern Cross University bargaining update

Following last week’s meeting the university presented both unions with a draft enterprise agreement for review ahead of today’s scheduled discussions. This draft incorporated many provisions successfully advocated for by your bargaining team in line with our log of claims, as well as amendments negotiated since bargaining began in August 2021.

We are pleased to advise that the university has agreed, in principle, to the following key amendments:

  • Removal of arbitrary categories of employment which increased levels of casualisation and restricted employees’ ability to seek conversion to ongoing employment
  • Improved conversion rights from fixed term to ongoing employment, where the presumption is that conversion will be approved subject to operational, financial or performance requirements
  • A payment, equivalent to up to six months’ superannuation entitlements as your ordinary rate of pay, for employees who take an additional period of unpaid primary carer’s leave follow paid primary carer’s leave (superannuation on unpaid parental leave)
  • An increase in leave provisions for employees who experience late pregnancy miscarriage, still birth or perinatal death from 6 weeks to 12 weeks’ paid leave
  • Recognition that employees can access compassionate leave for early pregnancy miscarriage, or where their partner experiences early pregnancy miscarriage (three days paid leave per instance)
  • Insertion of a clause which mandates formal consultation processes in any change that is likely to result in two or more employees being retrenched
  • Insertion of a clause which requires the university to genuinely consider redeployment before deciding to make a position redundant.

We note that many of you have received communications today which provide an alternative perspective of the current proposal. It is our view that this perspective is misleading.

Firstly, the proposed agreement does not remove any right’s in relation to procedural fairness.

Secondly, there is no provision within our current (or former) agreements which pertains to committee oversight of a negative performance review. The University has proposed to remove a committee which, at the request of an employee, can be convened to:

“report on whether:

  1. a) the procedures that were followed were procedurally fair and in accordance with clause 268-270, and if not, whether the outcome was affected by the procedures that were followed; and
  2. b) the disciplinary action is reasonable in the circumstances.”

This committee can only be convened where disciplinary action is proposed in relation to unsatisfactory performance, and where the outcome of that disciplinary action is proposed to be termination of employment, demotion or re-deployment. The committee can make recommendations to the Vice Chancellor who will then make the determination as they see fit.

We have agreed to remove this committee as it is our preference to arbitrate on employment termination expeditiously in the Fair Work Commission where they can be dealt with in a fair and equitable manner – and with binding jurisdiction. A committee with the power to only make recommendations does not afford the same level of protection or oversight.

Finally, the proposal does not alter, in any way, the current flex-time provisions that apply to Professional Staff.

We look forward to today’s discussions and hope to be able to bring you details on salary soon.