The Federal Government’s “Higher Education Workplace Productivity Program” will damage relations between universities and staff by creating job insecurity. It also opened the door to nepotism and patronage, the Universities’ general staff union said today.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has delivered this message to the Federal Department of Education and Training, in a response to a Discussion Paper.

A key priority of Nelson’s program is the offering of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).

CPSU Joint Federal Secretary, David Carey, said evidence had shown the negative impact of AWAs in other sectors of the economy.

” The evidence shows that AWAs have lowered morale in the workforce and increased perceptions of job insecurity,” Mr Carey said.

Not only that, but individualised pay settings will undermine merit-based systems of promotion and progression through salary levels for both academic and general staff.

“Making job offers conditional upon entering into AWAs will undermine merit-based appointment processes and open the door to nepotism and patronage,” he said.

The union also said in it’s response that implementation of the program would lead to the increased use of casual employees and increase the difficulties universities faced in attracting and retaining high quality staff, both academic and general, in an environment of labour shortage.

A pernicious aspect of the program is the competitive funding model it urges.

“This will create different tiers of university, with wealthy, research-intensive, largely urban institutions at the top and poorer, teaching-only and often regional universities at the bottom,” said Mr Carey.

“The program attempts to coerce universities and their workforces into implementing policies and practices they have been unwilling to implement previously because they have seen no benefit flowing from them for the quality of their research and teaching.”

Further information:

The CPSU submission to the Federal Governments Higher Education Workplace Productivity Program can be found here.