National Tertiary Education Union ramps up pressure on UTAS

Tasmania’s higher education union is ramping up its push for a new UTAS staff agreement to be reached after more than a year of negotiations. 

National Tertiary Education Union Tasmanian secretary Kelvin Michael said negotiations between the University of Tasmania and the union over a new enterprise bargaining agreement began in August last year, but a final decision had still not been reached. 

Dr Michael said the union was looking to improve job security and manage increasing workloads for staff, and could withhold student exam results as employee frustration continues to rise.  

According to the university’s 2016 annual report, UTAS had more than 2700 staff members, excluding casual employees, with more than half of these not on fixed-term contacts. 

A UTAS spokesperson said talks were continuing in good faith with staff and the involved unions. 

“The bargaining process has continued longer than the university hoped,” the spokesperson said. 

“In recognition of this, and of the patience, understanding and continued excellence demonstrated by our staff during this period, the university paid a 1.5 per cent interim pay increase to all staff in July.” 

But Dr Michael said the union was now in the situation where it felt forced to increase pressure on UTAS. 

“We would very much like to have a new agreement signed so that the conditions of employment of the university staff can be maintained and then improved when appropriate,” he said. 

“Our members in all facets of the university report that they’re struggling to keep up with the demands of their roles and in some areas it’s having strong effects on their well-being and certainly on their morale.”