Strings on pay cash angers Oz

November 26, 1999

Greek Cypriot students wave Greek flags at a checkpoint dividing the island during

a protest to mark the anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic of

Northern Cyprus. The island has been divided since Turkish forces invaded in 1974. REUTERS Geoff Maslen

MELBOURNE

The Australian government has angered academics and vice-chancellors by setting strict guidelines for universities seeking access to an additional Aus$259 million (Pounds 102 million) to supplement staff salary rises.

The prescriptive nature of the guidelines, which contain more than 20 criteria a university must meet to be eligible, has generated great hostility.

The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee said if universities were expected to meet fully all the criteria it would be inflexible and would mean the government was dictating work practices.

"We would be strongly against that," said AVCC executive director Stuart Hamilton. "But if the government is saying, 'These are the sorts of thing we want to see in your agreements and we will give you the money', then we could work with that."

Federal education minister David Kemp said grants would be provided to enable universities to "develop more flexible management practices and utilise resources in a more efficient way". Additional funding would be provided only where institutions implemented significant reform in workplace relations deals.

The National Tertiary Education Union said the guidelines were intended to cripple union involvement in negotiations and urged vice-chancellors to reject them. "Mr Kemp wants changes to redundancy, promotion, workloads, award provisions, university governance and selection and promotion procedures," a union spokesman said. "Yet in return he offers 2 per cent to supplement salary increases when the settlement rate emerging around the country is 12 to 14 per cent."

Under the offer, universities would receive grants equal to 2 per cent of the salary component of their operating budgets. If eligible, they would receive the money in January, but education department officials will then check to see that they meet the guidelines before the increase is paid in future years.

Three universities have negotiated wage deals with the NTEU of between 12 and 15 per cent. The union has warned of wide industrial action unless deals are reached with the other institutions.

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