ANU On Staff’s Naughty List: NTEU Protests Christmas Leave Change

“ANU’s War on Christmas”, an event held by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), took place this afternoon at the Village Pop-Up. Featuring food, a unionised Santa Claus and Christmas caroling, the NTEU protested ANU’s proposed changes to leave entitlements including Christmas pay.

The event included a modified carol to the tune of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ending with: “On the fifth day of Christmas the VC sent to me, No Christ-mas leave, Huge workloads, unfair super, longer core hours and a late shift with no penalty,” summarising the union’s key issues with the change.

ANU’s “Christmas Closedown” proposal, if enacted, will require staff to take “annual or long service leave for working days other than public holidays over the closedown period”. Staff would therefore have to take personal leave days to cover the Christmas period, which spans from 23 December to 2 January. This would replace the current system, where staff leave during the Christmas closedown period is given to employees in addition to their own personal leave. The university’s reasoning behind this change is “to assist with the management of leave liabilities and excess leave”.

Negotiations for the new Enterprise Agreement regarding University staff working conditions continue indefinitely. NTEU ACT Division Secretary Rachael Bahl said ANU and the Education Union had “a lot of common ground” but were “miles apart” on key issues. In addition to leave entitlement cuts, the union is concerned about cuts to penalty rates , and seek an end to “superannuation discrimination” by equalizing superannuation rates for all staff. According to the union, casual and insecurely employed fixed term staff are currently given 9.5% superannuation, while ongoing and some fixed-term staff are given 17%.

Bargaining meetings are taking place fortnightly between the Union and the University, with no end in sight. An ANU spokesperson told Observer: “ANU is negotiating… with all staff in good faith. Negotiations are continuing with the NTEU on a broad range of issues; the discussions have been constructive.” Despite this, an NTEU pamphlet states: “ANU seem intent on delaying the Bargaining process- meaning that staff continue to go without a pay rise in 2017.”