UNIVERSITY of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Alex Zelinsky has warned staff it will need to cut jobs if the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) doesn't agree to cost-saving measures including delaying salary increases.
But the NTEU said it is concerned agreeing to the measures still won't be enough to ensure job security. The Newcastle Herald reported on Thursday Professor Zelinsky unveiled in a Wednesday livestream a major organisational restructure and staff reduction scheme.
He had said earlier this month UON needed to find $35 million in savings for 2021. He told staff on Wednesday the NTEU had "agreed in principle" with plans to reduce annual and long service leave and introduce an early retirement scheme.
He said they were still negotiating changing the enterprise agreement to be able to delay salary increases due this and next September until next December; delaying annual salary increments due on anniversary dates to next June and December; and deferring academic promotion salary increases.
NTEU Newcastle branch president Dan Conway said the union welcomed management's approach to working with the union to respond to the COVID crisis.
"However we remain concerned that a substantial number of job cuts are coming yet again, regardless of sacrifices staff make at this time," Mr Conway said.
"We are hopeful that university management will be able to meet each of our requirements through submitting finances to the expert panel - including detailing non-salary savings, agreeing that all measures are temporary in nature only, and that the all important enforceable job security provisions flow."
Professor Zelinsky said in the livestream time was of the essence.
"If there is no agreement [by its self-imposed August 10 deadline] we have to say 'Thank you, we've done everything in good faith, but now we must move forward and implement the measures'," he said.
"If we can't find those $12 million... then we will have to take other measures and unfortunately it will be jobs. I want to make it very clear, if we don't get those savings jobs will have to go. We don't want them to go, that's why we're trying to negotiate as long as possible to get this in place because after that there's just not enough time to implement changes."
He said UON will save around $20 million from course optimisation, but this will be reflected through the employment of fewer staff. The five faculties will be reduced to three colleges by 2021.
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