At least 150 people could lose their jobs after the University of Wollongong outlined its plans to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a live webcast, UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings presented staff with three options management is considering implementing to recover from a projected $90 million budget shortfall.
Professor Wellings asked staff to consider these options to contribute to savings.
With employment costs accounting for 55 per cent of our operations, there is no scenario in which UOW can return to financial sustainability without impacting on staffing levels," Prof Wellings said.
Two of the three options vary enterprise agreements by reducing pay on a sliding scale according to salary levels of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent for 18 months, or between 7.5 per cent and 15 per cent for 12 months. Staff may then opt to reduce their hours proportionate to their pay cut.
The third option retains pay and conditions provided under UOW's existing enterprise agreements.
The first two options would result in job losses of up to 200 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions.
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Should staff vote for the 'status quo' option, it would result in possibly double the job losses forecast under either of the two agreement variation options.
The proposed variations also include a freeze on scheduled pay increases, a requirement to reduce accrued leave, greater flexibility regarding staff duties and a commitment to provide regular updates.
"With employment costs accounting for 55 per cent of our operations, there is no scenario in which UOW can return to financial sustainability without impacting on staffing levels," Prof Wellings said.
Staff will have the opportunity to consider the proposals and ask questions of their manager before indicating their preferred option in an anonymous survey conducted by independent survey provider, the Voice Project. Results will be provided to staff once available.
If staff select an enterprise agreement variation as their preferred option, UOW management will prepare a variation proposal accordingly and conduct the required consultation and formal vote before submitting it to the Fair Work Commission for approval.
If staff indicate via the survey that their preferred option is to not vary their enterprise agreements, the University will not conduct a staff vote on either of the proposed variations, but instead proceed with a process to make savings within the current enterprise agreement conditions.
"These are challenging times and in years to come 2020 will be remembered as a threshold moment in our University's 45-year history as an independent institution.
"Our university community has already pulled together this year to face bushfires and a public health crisis. I am confident we can similarly work together to confront this financial crisis," Professor Wellings said.
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