Jun 11, 2015

University of Newcastle Consultative Committee meetings update

University of Newcastle Member Bulletin re meeting updates June 2015 (PDF version)

At the recent Professional Staff and Combined Staff Consultative Committee meetings (PSCC & CSCC) there was considerable discussion on various change processes. The PSA/CPSU raised concerns about the volume of change and were advised this is a result of a new strategic direction.

Restructures

Speculation continues about a faculty restructure. Although there is yet no clear proposal, it seems inevitable that such a change will eventually be realised.

The CTL restructure is complete. However, the PSA/CPSU pointed out our dissatisfaction with aspects of the process, which we felt were unfair to our members. We agreed to disagree with the University of Newcastle (UoN) on this matter.

The chancellery restructure is going through the final stages, with issues still to be resolved for a few staff.

The UoN perceives the academic division restructure mostly finished. However, the PSA/CPSU raised ongoing concerns about work overload resulting from staff not being able to effectively leave their old role to take up their role in the new structure. We identified problems with morale. In response to an earlier request from the PSA/CPSU, a survey of staff was conducted regarding their experience of the restructuring process, eliciting 120 responses. These are being collated and a report will be made available soon. Members are encouraged to keep an eye out for this report, as we hope it will contain some useful lessons for the remaining restructure processes.

The finance division restructure process is underway and is already shaping up to be problematic. Initial feedback on the Finance restructure was provided to UoN on 26 March.

A further meeting was held on 15 April to discuss this in more detail. In the PSCC, this and the international restructure were discussed in terms of needing to ensure placement of staff at grade before staff at other grades are given access to the same positions. This should avoid the problems which arose in the academic restructure.

The international office restructure is currently subject to a consultation process. The change paper was released to the PSA/CPSU and staff on 9 April. Once again, the majority of impact is at HEW 5 and 9 level. The PSA/CPSU submitted a written response to the paper on 5 May.

The PSA/CPSU also met with UoN management again on 19 May to discuss the collated submissions. UoN has responded to all feedback and has made changes to the process that will be applied to engagement officer positions. In recognition of submissions made by the PSA/CPSU about overlap of roles, all engagement officer positions will now be open to current staff in positions of community relationships officer and student advisor. There remain concerns about whether the workload can be managed within the proposed staffing levels. A staff forum is scheduled for 26 May.

There is still no formal proposal for a new IT structure but the PSA/CPSU is aware that a concept document has been released for feedback from staff. This is expected to be quite a complex change process, given the number of staff who have been proposed to move from other areas undergoing restructure into the IT group.

There are some rumours of imminent restructure in the research area but it was confirmed that there is still no formal proposal for change.

Some discussion occurred in relation to so-called ‘one-person’ changes. Given recent experiences, the PSA/CPSU is keen to ensure these are not restructures by stealth. Members are encouraged to be alert to new positions being advertised outside a restructure proposal. We need to ensure it is not the intention to later delete positions once there are no longer new positions to apply for. The unions have asked UoN to come up with a process of checking the validity of such proposals.

Job evaluation

UoN has introduced an external evaluation process to add validity to the process. This is now in use for HEW 10 and higher positions. However, it will only be used to supplement the process for HEW 9 and below as there are already HEW level descriptors for these positions. UoN has agreed to run an information session to give an overview of the evaluation process to union and other staff reps, who have not completed the formal training.

Working groups

In accordance with the enterprise agreement a working party is to be established to discuss work-rotation options and processes. Some preliminary ideas were discussed, such as maintaining a central register and how to manage external secondments. The PSA/CPSU is to nominate participants for this working party. If you have a particular interest please contact one of your delegates or Jann Jeffries PSA Industrial Advocate jjeffries@psa.asn.au.

The Indigenous employment committee meets for the first time in the next week or so when they will get up to speed on the current issues such as UoN’s plan for up to 40 indigenous cadetships.

Your PSA/CPSU delegates

Michelle Woodhouse
Jodie Ryan
Nick Coster
Catherine Turner
Dale Crowther

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