The CPSU NSW UTS bargaining team reconvened with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on 22 and 29 November 2022. Whilst movement on the replacement Enterprise Agreement (EA) has been steady, several issues remain outstanding prior to any in-principle agreement being reached.
Enterprise Bargaining meetings have now concluded for 2022. It is anticipated that, should UTS accept the CPSU NSW’s reasonable and highly necessary pay increase offer, that an in-principle agreement will be reached early next year.
To finalise what will now mark more than 18 months of negotiations, the parties discussed the following:
The CPSU NSW’s log of members’ claims asked UTS for a four-year agreement.
The current offer from UTS is now a nominal expiration date of 31 September 2025.
The CPSU NSW has not yet responded to this offer.
The CPSU NSW is not interested in politicising this agreement to delay pay increases for Professional Staff members at UTS.
We believe we have put reasonable, ethical and just proposals to UTS for consideration, based on feedback from members in what is clearly becoming a dire situation at UTS with staff exiting from employment due to UTS’s currently inadequate pay compared with other universities and rising inflation.
UTS has not changed its offer on pay percentage increases.
A comparison table of UTS management’s current offer and the CPSU NSW’s latest offer is below:
|Date of pay increase
|CPSU NSW offer
|1 May 2023
|1 November 2023
|1 May 2024
|1 November 2024
|1 May 2025
|30 September 2025
|1.5 (subject to agreement on nominal expiration date)
|HEW 1-5 $500 HEW 6-10 $1000
The pay offer from UTS management was contingent on an acceptance in cutting members’ entitlements in annual leave accrual.
It is important to understand that whilst the pay increases being offered by UTS management may seem higher than other university counterparts, the base rates of pay at each HEW level and step are typically lower than at other NSW universities.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) did not respond or put its position on pay at the meetings but rejected any suggestion of an uplift to the base rates of pay of all HEW levels for Professional Staff.
The settlement of this agreement may come down to whether the NTEU comes to the table on pay offers or chooses to delay pay increases and improvements in conditions for Professional Staff to pursue its own agenda.
Previously UTS wanted to cut down your maximum accruable annual leave from 40 days to 20 days, with the ability for managers to dictate the terms and conditions of you taking your leave, including how many days and when you could take it.
At the last all-members’ meeting, the response was a resounding NO to UTS’s proposal.
UTS’s latest offer has increased the original offer to a maximum 30 days annual leave accruable, and no minimum amount of leave that must be taken to reduce your annual leave to below 30 days accrued.
The CPSU NSW is adamant that for a deal to be made to settle the EA pay package, this number must increase to 35 days. This still represents a cut in the current entitlement to Professional Staff being able to accumulate up to 40 days annual leave before being asked to take leave.
UTS management committed to take the revised figure of 35 days to the Vice Chancellor for a response. We await for their agreement.
This issue will further be discussed with members at the next all members meeting.
Extended closedown periods were never an option for CPSU NSW members.
In a win for the CPSU NSW bargaining team, UTS has dropped all claim to extended closedown periods and forcing staff to take further hours from their annual leave bank.
UTS has conceded to allow for 30 days gender affirmation leave. The parties remain apart on whether the leave is per annum or a one-off period of leave. The standard being embraced by the majority of other universities is a per annum basis.
The CPSU NSW cannot understand management’s position on a one-off entitlement to such leave. UTS should be leading the way on social justice and do everything that is clearly open to them to support some of our most stigmatised, vulnerable and valued workers at UTS.
Dropping a quickly emerging standard across universities – without any legitimate or logical explanation – is shocking.
References to the use of “sick” leave will be reworded to avoid further stigmatising those undertaking gender affirmation. All other forms of leave will be available to those undergoing gender affirmation once gender affirmation leave is exhausted.
UTS has responded to the CPSU NSW’s claims for remote working arrangements and incorporated the right to request a remote working arrangement in the individual flexible work arrangement clause.
A commitment welcomed by the CPSU NSW as per our claim, UTS management has included the ability for any informal arrangement for a remote working arrangement to be made between staff and their manager.
Other elements, including the provision of equipment and the reimbursement of costs incurred as a result of any direction by UTS to staff to work remotely as a result of any public health order, are still being worked through.
It is disappointing, especially now government support for leave payments due to a COVID-19 infection have been withdrawn, that UTS refuses to provide any additional pandemic leave in the even a UTS staff member cannot attend work or work remotely due to infection.
UTS have only offered four-hour paid leave periods for all casual staff to receive a vaccination that is recommended in a public health order.
UTS refuses to address the real disparities caused by the gender equity gap by paying superannuation to staff on unpaid parental leave.
Management has, however, agreed to count periods unpaid parental leave as time served, thereby dismissing any question of a break in the continuity of service.
UTS has agreed to several claims to expand union representation rights including:
UTS has rejected any possibility of an option for the CPSU NSW to negotiate a lease agreement for an office on campus. However, this will not deter any union activity or organising at UTS.
UTS has further refused to the CPSU NSW’s claim to increase the number of paid days a union representative may be granted per year to undertake union activities.
Further amendments have been put to UTS for consideration.
UTS has cut the current conditions of levels in broadbanding from 2-3 levels to only 2 levels.
The CPSU NSW will continue to insist that the Professional Staff Development Fund will be re-inserted into the EA to make UTS’s commitments to Professional Training clear.
Other discussions and amendments to clauses included:
The end may be in sight. But rest assured that any further delays, should they occur, will not be at the hands of the CPSU NSW and our members.
As bargaining has concluded for 2022, the parties will reconvene early next year to, hopefully, finalise the EA for vote.
We want to update you and hear your main concerns in the lead up to the end of the year.
The CPSU NSW will be hosting an all-members’ meeting on Wednesday 7 December 2022 at 12:00pm.
Please join us. Remember, you all have a voice and will all be heard. The stronger your voice, the stronger our resolve.
The CPSU NSW UTS bargaining team remain strongly committed to professional staff issues in a separate Professional Staff enterprise agreement as raised in our members’ Log of Claims.
UTS’s unfortunate pursual of a single enterprise agreement for both Professional and academic staff has been wrought with difficulties and delayed the settlement of an agreement for Professional Staff.
This problem is endemic at university sights that bargain for a single agreement. It creates conflicts of interests and delays professional staff from receiving their benefits in a fair and equitable manner.
We can only lobby UTS and hope this unpleasant experience has been a lesson on not what to do.
The CPSU NSW is always encouraging members to come on board as workplace delegates to further advance the rights of employees.
Join the fight with a strong, dedicated team committed to representing Professional Staff interests across UTS.