Dear Colleagues
 
On behalf of Alan Rix, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Maurie McNarn, Chief Operating Officer, I wish to advise the following: 
It has been several months since the University and the unions commenced negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement. Whilst regular updates have been provided through the University’s Enterprise Bargaining Webpage we thought it timely toprovide an update on the progress of negotiations to date.
 
Since bargaining commenced in earnest in November last year, we have been meeting with the unions on a fortnightly basis with steady progress made. The meetings have included the provision of a detailed financial briefing earlier this year.
 
Agreement in-principle (subject to agreement by the parties on all matters covered by the Enterprise Agreement) has been reached on a number of clauses.   These include: 
 
·         Staff Appraisal
·         Professional Staff Workloads
·         Intellectual Freedom
·         Facilitation of Union Involvement
·         Workplace Health and Safety
·         Research (Contingent Funded) Employment
·         Fixed-term Employment
·         Transfer and Travel between University Locations
·         Supervisor Training
·         Misconduct/Serious Misconduct
·         Academic Freedom
·         Academic Staff Supervision
·         Performance Appraisal (Annual Review)
·         Committee of Review (for misconduct/serious misconduct and unsatisfactory performance)
 
Whilst some of these changes reflect a tidying up of existing arrangements, other changes will provide improved arrangements for staff.
 
There remain a number of issues under discussion and consideration by both the University and the unions.  In relation to the unions’ claims, issues currently under discussion include:
 
·         the creation of a new category of academic appointment Scholarly Teaching Fellows (teaching focused positions, Levels A/B) equivalent in number to 20% of UQ’s casual FTE.  These positions would be open only to those currently employed within the sector on a casual and perhaps fixed-term basis
·         a limit on the number of hours an academic spends on teaching and ‘teaching related duties’
·         separate payment for all marking performed by casual academics
·         inclusion of a binding target in relation to Indigenous employees
·         26 weeks paid parental leave to any staff member where they become a child’s primary caregiver.
 
While negotiations continue on these issues, the University has expressed concern that some of these claims reflect the NTEU’s national bargaining position rather than issues of relevance to UQ and our staff.   For instance, whilst it is acknowledged that some universities rely heavily on casual academics, UQ has the sixth lowest proportion of casual academics in the sector with many of our casuals being clinicians who are not seeking an academic career. We are also currently trialling an online academic workload tool across a number of schools.  This tool will provide academic supervisors and staff with a more transparent approach to workload allocation to ensure reasonable workloads and equitable allocation.  Whilst we acknowledge that UQ does not compare well in relation to the number of our staff who are Indigenous and that we have to take active measures to improve our position as an inclusive community, we do not believe that the inclusion of a binding target in an enterprise agreement is the way to achieve commitment, support and action on this issue.
 
In relation to the University’s claims, discussions are continuing on a number of matters including the change management clause with the intention of strengthening ongoing consultation from the start of a change process and both the University and unions are seeking changes to provisions relating to outsourcing of services, on-call and re-call allowances, and TESOL language teachers amongst others.
 
As you are aware, the negotiations are taking place in an environment of increasing scrutiny of our budget following recent announcements of funding cuts and of the fiscal and policy uncertainties accompanying a Federal election in September. As stated in the Vice-Chancellor’s email to staff last October, changes negotiated in the new Agreement need to be sustainable, affordable, supportive of UQ’s high performance culture and strategic direction, and must continue to maintain our competitive position in the attraction, retention and recognition of staff.  The University continues to demonstrate excellence in research and teaching performance and we are committed to rewarding the contribution of all staff to this effort but need to balance this with our need to be financially responsible and to position ourselves for sustained growth.
 
Whilst our current Agreement expired in May it continues to apply until a replacement Agreement is negotiated and approved by the Fair Work Commission. Under the current Agreement, staff received a salary increase of 2.5% from 1 January this year.
 
The University is keen to finalise the negotiations within a reasonable timeframe and to provide staff with certainty around their future salary and working arrangements. With this in mind, the duration of our negotiation sessions is increasing.
 
 
 
 
Kind regards,
 
Jane Banney| Director Human Resources