Landmark agreement preserves 12,000 jobs and hard won university conditions

At least 12,000 university jobs at risk of being lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be preserved under a landmark agreement between the National Tertiary Education and universities.

Universities are looking at a sector-wide revenue loss of up to $5 billion during 2020 and more in subsequent years, due to a collapse in international and domestic enrolments. University employees are also excluded from the JobKeeper program.

The framework agreement will be implemented by an independent, expert panel of staff and managers, at both a national and local campus level.

It is founded on the following principles:

  • No university employee will be involuntarily stood down without pay.
  • On a temporary basis of one year, some staff at deeply affected universities will receive 85 per cent of their salary. The vast majority of affected staff will receive between 90 and 95 per cent of their former salary. People on lower wages will not be affected.
  • Temporary salary reductions will only happen after non-staff costs and management salaries have been reduced.
  • Non-wage conditions such as superannuation and leave continue to accrue at the standard rate.
  • Displaced casual and fixed-term staff will be prioritised for new work.
  • Redundancies will only happen in cases where a university can explicitly prove there is no work.

“There are no perfect options in a crisis,” said NTEU National President, Dr. Alison Barnes. “In the absence of a properly funded federal crisis package our Union has intervened to put income security and fairness at the centre of a national response.

“Without this agreement, we faced mass sackings which would have seen careers derailed and livelihoods destroyed.

“This framework enshrines the voice and input of staff at both a national and local level. It preserves more than 12,000 jobs, and secures entitlements such as superannuation and leave.

“It is now incumbent on the Commonwealth Government to come to the table with a crisis funding package that recognises $4.5 billion has melted away from Australian universities in the last six weeks.

“Our universities should be researching COVID-19 therapies and training the next generation of nurses, paramedics and doctors. Dan Tehan must ensure the university workforce does not end up in the unemployment line.”

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