Our employment conditions at UNSW are governed by documents called “Enterprise Agreements”. They typically last 3-4 years. When they expire, union members enter a period of “Enterprise Bargaining”. We put forward a series of proposals to improve our working conditions and then appoint representatives to negotiate them with UNSW management.

Members then campaign to raise awareness and support for what we’re proposing to help us convince management.

What improvements are NTEU members proposing?

This is what we are proposing this time:

A fair pay rise

With annual inflation running at over 7% in Australia, NTEU members are seeking the greater of a 15% pay increase calculated from the expiry of our previous agreement or CPI + 1.5% pa.

This is a fair proposal given the increased costs of living and the incredible hard work of UNSW staff and given we’ve so far  been rewarded with work intensification and job cuts whilst UNSW recorded a surplus of $223 million in 2021 alone!

We’ve had low pay rises at UNSW over recent years and two one-off administrative payments during 2022. These one-off dministrative payments are not ongoing increases and so do not compound over time. At other universities, staff have received ongoing percentage administrative pay increases during bargaining. This means UNSW needs a much larger percentage pay increase compared to other universities to maintain parity.

Job security for ALL staff, including casuals

  • Redundancy only when work is genuinely no longer to be performed by anyone.
  • A limit of one workplace change process affecting your position during the life of the agreement.
  • A workload review and evaluation phase following any restructure.
  • Strengthening redundancy review for all staff – management propose to remove this for academic staff whereas NTEU members are proposing to extend it to professional staff.
  • The conversion of at least 35% of the current existing casual employees to continuing employment.

Professional staff workloads

  • Better management of overtime and the span of hours and further protections against work intensification.
  • A review of workloads after Workplace Change.
  • Better regulation and remuneration of on call arrangements. 

Academic Workloads

  • Workload formulas must be evidence-based and accurately reflect the time taken to do all allocated work.
  • Limit work to 1610 hours per year and ensure allocated work can be reasonably performed in a 35 hour week.
  • Limit teaching and education-related activities for Education Focused staff to 60%, with staff flexibility to determine 20% of their work to enable career advancement.
  • Management have instead proposed to remove even the provisions in the CURRENT clause:
    • Work would not be required to be measured in hours.
    • Teaching loads would not have to take into account class sizes, level of the course, etc.
    • A workload formula would not need to be ‘collegially developed’ or ‘generally supported’; instead, the Dean/Head of School would determine the workload formula.
    • There would be no limit on the amount of teaching or education-related activities allocated to staff, including Education Focused staff.
    • There would be no individual right to workload review to resolve disputes.
  • Management also seeking to remove the limitations on UNSW having no more than 25% of its academic workforce as Education Focused staff. We propose the 25% limit be applied at a workplace rather than whole of Institution level.
  • We are also concerned that proposals by management to allow cashing out of annual leave and could contribute to workload intensification through putting pressure on staff to forgo leave.

A more inclusive workplace

NTEU members are pushing for:

  • Leave entitlements – infectious disease leave and improved gender affirmation leave.
  • Work-life balance and flexible working arrangements.
  • Intellectual freedom – a strengthened definition of intellectual (academic) freedom that covers all academic and professional staff.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment – a strengthened jobs target and improved cultural and language allowances.
  • Professional development – upholding privacy and confidentiality of course evaluation survey data and results.

A single Agreement for all UNSW staff

The NTEU is made up of academic and professional staff employed across the Australian Higher Education sector. Our members at UNSW are seeking a single agreement for all staff at UNSW. We want academic and professional staff to have equal rights and protections in restructures, manageable workloads, intellectual freedom and flexible working arrangements. We believe the best outcomes are achieved when staff bargain collectively.

What is UNSW management proposing?

Unforunately, instead of making things better, UNSW management is making proposals we think will take our working conditions backwards:

UNSW management's proposals

  • Removing the limit on the proportion of Education Focused staff
  • Removing limits on teaching loads for both Teaching and Research and Education Focused staff
  • Removing review committees for redundancies resulting from a restructure for academic staff, instead of extending these benefits to professional staff
  • Removing existing clauses such as Workplace Bullying, Equal Employment Opportunity, Work Health and Safety