SCU rejects claim by union
A STOUSH has broken out in the middle of workplace negotiations between Southern Cross University and the National Tertiary Education Union.
Southern Cross University’s deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Bill MacGillivray, said accusations by the union that high numbers of casual university staff would be on the dole queue for Christmas were ludicrous.
“It is part of union tactics to put pressure on the university during enterprise bargaining,” he said.
The university has 400 academic staff and a casual rate of 32 per cent.
This was much lower than many universities, Prof MacGillivray said. The industry average, according to the union, is 15pc.
The union claimed that Southern Cross University had one of the highest rates of insecure employment of academic staff in the country.
For 14 months theunion and the university have been negotiating 62 clauses on conditions for staff, and there are only 10 more clauses to work through.
The agreement between the university and the union should be completed by March next year.
“We’ve looked at the data and we’d like to reduce our reliance on casual staff,” Professor MacGillivray said.
He said a lot of the casual staff were post-graduate students running tutorials or marking students’ work, and some of them chose to work casual.
“We’ve agreed to early career schemes for our casual academic staff so they can go on to fixed-term appointments,” he said.
Union vice-president Dr Grant Cairncross said he understood the university would be nervous about the figures.
“Look at what other universities have done to limit the use of casuals,” he said.
Dr Grant said that the National Tertiary Education Union was willing to work with the university in getting the casual rate down andreduce the time casual workers spent on unemployment lines.