Friday, 22 March 2024

University of Sydney CPSU NSW Members March Newsletter

Here’s the latest news from the Sydney University CPSU NSW union branch.

Workplace Health & Safety Officer’s Report

Thanks to one of our members for alerting University management to the possibility of mulch contaminated with asbestos.

Whilst most of the mulch used by University Grounds staff is recycled from trees felled on campus, there are instances where third party sourced mulch is used. One such load was recently identified as a potential risk. Consequently, several garden beds around the university were cordoned off.  An independent Licensed Asbestos Assessor (LAA) tested samples and cleared the mulch as being free of asbestos.

Over at Fisher Library, one of the four cooling towers on the roof recently returned a positive result for low levels of Legionella bacteria. Consequently, all four towers were immediately disinfected. Management have since advised that the risk of anyone catching Legionnaire’s Disease was negligent, although we’d like to hear from any member that was recently ill and suspects that they had Legionnaire’s Disease. The issue of maintenance and testing of cooling towers on campus has been raised with university management, and we were assured that the university was conducting regular testing and maintenance as required by legislation.

Another area of workplace safety concern is outdoor lighting not working. The situation at the Jane Foss Russell Building recently had staff and students using phone torches due to the lack of working lights. A CPSU NSW Branch Delegate reported the issue by lodging a ticket with Campus Operations Services (COS) through Campus Assist. We were able to follow-up the ticket and were advised by COS that it had been fixed. Other members have reported lighting not working in other areas of campus such as parking lots etc. We have raised concerns with management that campus outdoor lighting must be maintained as it is necessary from a safety perspective.

If you notice a light that is not working, please report it to COS via Campus Assist. In the event that the outdoor lighting is working, but you don’t consider it adequate, then this may represent a security risk, and it needs to be reported via Riskware. In either situation, let your branch delegate know of any tickets submitted so that we can follow up.

Professional Staff Development Fund

According to the University intranet, the Professional Staff Development Fund is “focused on creating opportunities and investing in the development of all professional staff. Funding has so far provided support for a number of activities including postgraduate study, short courses, conferences and external secondments.” If any member has applied for professional development against the USYD Professional Staff Development Fund and has had any difficulty being approved, then please let any of our delegates know so we can investigate. It’s not unusual for managers to misunderstand their responsibilities around this fund and we can quickly offer you advice or intercede on your behalf if you want us to.

See: for further details

Women’s Officer Report  

Just a reminder that subject to available credits, staff may take paid personal leave staff for menstrual and menopause reasons. This is a right that we fought very hard to be included in the current Enterprise Agreement.

Please reach out to me if you receive any resistance from your manager if you apply for this leave.

Please be aware of the clauses and new additions in the EA and the section on supporting documentation including:


  1. for menstrual or menopausal reasons;
  2. to access In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other forms of assisted reproductive health services;
  3. gender affirmation and transition, to be used after the specific gender transition and affirmation leave is exhausted;

Medical certificate (or other acceptable document)

Supporting documentation* for personal leave, menstrual/menopausal absences, family and domestic violence, IVF/assisted reproductive services and gender affirmation leave (EA 2023 clauses 270 – 271):


Leave Type Documentation Required Notes
Personal leave (sick and carers leave) For single absence of 5 working days or more

If requested and where notified that 5 separate periods of leave had been taken in previous 12 months without providing acceptable documentation.

Documentation required for 6 months from notification
Menstrual/menopausal absences For single absence of 5 working days or more
Family & Domestic


If requested and where notified that 5 separate periods of leave had been taken in previous 12 months without providing acceptable documentation Documentation required for 6 months from notification
IVF & other assisted reproductive services On first accessing the leave and will cover all future occurrences of less than 5 working days. May be reasonably required to provide further documentation if requested.
Gender affirmation On first accessing the leave and will cover all future occurrences of less than 5 working days. May be reasonably required to provide further documentation if requested.

270 c) The requirements of clause 270(b)(ii) do not apply for staff accessing menstrual or menopausal absences. Staff will only be required to provide suitable documentation for single absences of five working days or more.

Library Change Process

The Library is currently undergoing a significant change process.

CPSU NSW has many members in the Library – which means that we have been able to hold management to account over the years. Consequently, our strong membership has arguably contributed to a significant difference in the current change process in that the current Library Change Plan does NOT include involuntary redundancies. Whilst members can submit an expression of interest in a voluntary redundancy, the Library will not resort to forced redundancies. Furthermore, positions that are earmarked for redundancy will not be made redundant until the incumbent(s) choose to leave through natural attrition e.g., retirement, resignation, or taking up a new role elsewhere within the university.

Although there are significant concerns around the proposed new Library roles, rest assure that your union will be representing members interests during the consultation process, as well as addressing safety issues that may result from the proposed change. We will continue to make sure that all change processes under the Enterprise Agreement are strictly adhered.

Help us to grow the CPSU NSW in your workplace for better representation and successes.

Employment Conditions You May Not Know

If you believe that you are required to perform duties at a higher HEO classification level than you are employed at, we can assist.

Clauses 158-162 of the Enterprise Agreement allow you to submit a case to the Classification Assessment Team – an HR function independent of your management – to examine your case and judge whether you should be paid at a higher classification level.

Further, clause 154 of the EA stipulates that if you have been performing duties that may not be covered by your position description for six months or more in the knowledge of your supervisor such duties will be taken to have been authorised and legitimate, which means that if they are then classified at a higher HEO level, you are owed backpay at the higher level for having performed them.

We can advise and assist you to put your case together, so if you have concerns about this, please contact a CPSU NSW delegate to help progress the matter.

Know someone who is not a member of the CPSU NSW?

Ask them to join online HERE

Want to network with other Professional Staff? You can do so in this private Facebook group.

Stand with us today!

Professional Staff: Worth Every Cent!

Please contact one of our delegates if you have any questions.

University of Sydney CPSU NSW Branch Committee

Grant Wheeler

Vice President
Ruth Livingstone

Women’s Officer
Rachelle Down

Patrick O’Mara

Assistant Secretary
Lachlan Grant

Membership Registrar
Holly Eades

Work Health and Safety Officer
Peter Adams

Branch Delegates

Ivan Coates

Norton Roughley

Matthew Etherton

Tomas Forster