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Curtin University NTEU opposes the university’s non-staff agreement

“The fact that staff have had to wait longer than is reasonable for a pay increase cannot be eliminated by flawed management rhetoric.”

Curtin University proposed a non-staff agreement last week which has been strongly condemned by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). 

The ballot, set to be held between 10-16 February, offers staff a 2.2% pay increase per annum. Inflation is currently at 8.4% in Western Australia, meaning the proposed agreement would represent a substantial real pay cut for staff. 

Curtin staff have demanded a pay increase of 5% per annum to deal with the increased cost of living pressures. There is a cumulative difference of around $2000 between the pay rise offered by Curtin and what NTEU is asking for.

According to Curtin NTEU Branch Secretary Dr Catherine Moore, while the official agreement cites a 11% increase from the start of the enterprise to 2025, it does not consider a back payment for 2021 (the year when the previous agreement expired). 

“The fact that staff have had to wait longer than is reasonable for a pay increase cannot be eliminated by flawed management rhetoric. That lost year counts and management should not be rewarded for failing to get an agreement with the Union more quickly,”  Dr Moore said.

Key demands of  staff include a 15% pay rise by December 2024, 17% superannuation, a maximum of one restructure for an individual staff member over their tenure, at least a four per cent employment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait employees, and a reduction of professional staff’s working hours to 8:00 am – 6:00 pm from their current 6:30 am – 9:00 pm hours.

Curtin University has fixed a target of 2.3% for Indigenous employment and also denied staff’s demands for sick pay and job security for casuals. The Union also criticised the University’s desire to take over casual staff’s “two special leave days over Christmas” and reduce their four-day paid time off to two. 

Senior management said that the agreement will be put to vote as there is “no requirement to secure the NTEU’s endorsement before employees can be asked to vote on a new agreement”.

The University of Sydney’s Education Officers Yasmine Johnson and Ishbel Dunsmore condemned the non-union enterprise as it indicates that “uni bosses have no interest in improving the quality of teaching, learning, and research on campus. We support the NTEU’s campaign against this ballot at Curtin”.

Other Western Australian universities like University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan and Notre Dame have provided staff pay hikes of 2%, 3.5% and 15% respectively.