Dec 5, 2017

University of Newcastle enterprise bargaining update

University of Newcastle enterprise bargaining update – December 2017 (PDF version)

The sixth and seventh meetings of the Enterprise Bargaining teams were held on 22 and 28 November 2017.

The 22 November meeting dealt with the following issues … and a small number of other matters affecting academics only.

Performance review and development

Discussion was largely about finding appropriate terminology for the staff accountable for performance review and development. The current clause talks of “supervisors” and “mentors” but this has given rise to some confusion over the past four years. The university will come back with suggestions.

Annual leave

CPSU NSW tabled a draft to give effect to your Log of Claims 62 and 63 relating to limitations on the discretion of managers to direct the taking of leave or to deny applications, and 58 (ii) requesting an additional week of paid leave to cover the Christmas shutdown. Our tabled claim was based on the wording in the Modern Award (HEGSS Award 2010) that underpins our agreements. The award text is clear on the circumstances permitting a direction to take leave, the notice to be given, the amount of leave to be taken and the balance allowed to remain.

We noted that the current clause in the enterprise agreement has been separated into two parts, the first of which (clause 57.9) if read separately can be interpreted as a right to direct staff to take “annual leave for which the staff member is eligible” without regard to circumstances, notice, amount or balance. This far exceeds the provisions in the Modern Award. The university and CPSU NSW have been in dispute over this clause in the past. Our clause would provide a clearer statement of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities. We are also seeking to replicate here the leave planning elements already found (and not objected to) in long service leave (Agreement clauses 59.5 to 59.8).

This goes also to the arrangements for the Christmas shutdown in respect of which we tabled an associated claim that the shutdown should never exceed one week and that all working days which are not public holidays should be concessional university holidays. The university and CPSU NSW are also in dispute over this year’s shutdown. Our university holidays clause will have to wait until the dispute is resolved.

The university representatives are resisting our annual leave claim but are continuing with their cash out claim with which, as explained in the previous bulletin, we have serious concerns. We are prepared to consider a hardship clause with some restrictions on frequency and quantum but a general ability to cash out leave is not something the unions could agree to. The matter will return to the 6 December meeting.

Long service leave

CPSU NSW has a claim to provide pro rata access to accrued long service after five years (currently 10). The university is opposed and is considering its response. The matter will return to the 6 December meeting.

Study leave, examination leave and reimbursement of fees

Discussion here focused on the need for a broad view to approve a program of study related not only to the current role but also to potential roles within the university that may lie outside of the current unit or division. This could facilitate transfers and redeployment in organisational change. The university will consider and respond.

Casual staff period of engagement

A proposal to increase the minimum period of casual engagement from three to four hours was taken on notice.

Casual staff orientation

A proposal to pay a minimum of four hours for casual staff induction/orientation was likewise taken on notice.


A claim to extend 17 per cent super to fixed term and casual employees is being resisted by the university on grounds of excessive costs. No movement at all on this front.

The 28 November meeting was devoted to a review of a number of clauses previously identified by the negotiators as uncontentious. (The numbers below refer to the current agreement.) These included:

Availability of the agreement (clause 5) – agreed without change.

Incremental progression (clause 10) – agreed without change.

Staff reports (clause 16) – with minor change discussed to improve access to personnel file.

Transfer or placement ( clause 24) – agreed without change.

Abandonment of employment (clause 26) – agreed without change.

Intellectual property rights (clause 28) – agreed without change.

Intellectual freedom (clause 29) – agreed in principle, but academics may make a further claim.

Dependent care support (clause 35) – agreed without change.

Compensation for loss of personal property (clause 36) – agreed without change.

Salary packaging (clause 39) – agreed without change.

Relieving allowance (clause 44) – agreed without change.

Higher duties allowance (clause 45) – agreed without change.

Rostered staff – work rosters (clause 52) – agreed without change.

Purchased leave scheme (clause 58) – agreed without change.

Compassionate leave (clause 61) – agreed without change.

Emergency services leave (clause 63) – agreed without change.

Jurors leave (clause 64) – agreed without change.

Witness leave (clause 65) – agreed without change.

Public holidays (clause 67) – agreed without change.

This meeting covered a lot of easy ground. The university is flagging that more strenuous discussions will be had around performance conduct and discipline, organisational change and redundancy, categories of employment, and dispute procedures. Most of this will be up for consideration in early 2018.

Next meeting

For discussion on 6 December:

  • Parental leave
  • Annual leave
  • Long service leave
  • VSP – moratorium on re-employment
  • Any other matters referred from previous meetings
  • Schedule of meetings for 2018

Become involved

Please take the time to read through your current agreement to identify opportunities for improvement and contact your bargaining representatives to discuss any concerns you have. We will be calling general meetings or conducting further surveys as necessary when the issues under discussion require further direction from you.

At the end of the negotiation you will be asked to vote on the package and we want that to be an informed and deliberate vote by staff whose working lives are covered by the agreement. Ask your colleagues to stand with you by joining CPSU NSW today HERE.

UoN Professional Staff representatives

Sue Freeman

Nick Koster

Lyn Keily

Stephen Hopkins

CPSU NSW staff

Thane Pearce

Ron Hunter

Jann Jeffries is taking extended leave to mid-2018 and we thank her for her leadership of the CPSU NSW UoN bargaining team to date.

Please note:

CPSU NSW members are also members of the Public Service Association of NSW. The PSA is the Associated Body for, and resources and manages, the CPSU NSW.


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