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Dispute at Victoria University gets personal

9 August 2005

Industrial dispute at Victoria University gets personal

Union members at Victoria University have imposed an immediate boycott of all meetings and dealings with their Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh. The exception will be to protest at his continuing refusal to agree to national collective employment agreements or to offer an acceptable salary increase. Staff have rejected an offer from the Vice-Chancellor to increase salaries by 3.25 percent for academic staff and 3 percent for general staff.

The ban on dealing with the Vice-Chancellor is intended to remain in force until the current industrial dispute is resolved.

The decision came after union members voted by a margin of 84 percent to strike again on 29 August, and to engage in other disruptive forms of industrial action over the Vice-Chancellor's position. That will include participating in a national day of action on 19 August.

Bans will also be placed, with immediate effect, on attendance by union members at Faculty Board meetings, and participating in all Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) activities. This includes preparing documentation, including evidence portfolios, which will be assessed to rank the University's research performance.

Combined unions' spokesperson, Professor David Weatherburn, said that the Vice-Chancellor is currently asking staff to prepare PBRF evidence portfolios, from which the University will select the best to be forwarded to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for assessment. That assessment would rank Victoria's research performance alongside other universities, and form a basis on which to determine research funding until 2011.

"The Vice-Chancellor appears to be trying to ensure that, by submitting only selected PBRF portfolios to the TEC for assessment, the results enhance Victoria's prestige and reputation at the expense of other universities," said Professor Weatherburn. "This ban will mean that Victoria's assessment is likely to result in a lower ranking than other universities."

Professor Weatherburn said that the Vice-Chancellor could resolve this dispute tomorrow if he wished. "The unions have proposed a settlement package which would allow the parties to end the immediate dispute and get on with the important job of resolving sector-wide university problems." He said.


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