More industrial action is likely at the University of Wollongong despite management and staff unions meeting on Thursday and an improved pay offer.
After staff went on strike for two hours on Monday, UOW had improved its pay offer from a 9 per cent increase to 12 per cent over the duration of the agreement - but workloads, understaffing and casualisation remain as sticking points.
National Tertiary Education Union branch president Professor Fiona Probyn-Rapsey said the improved offer "reflected the determination" of staff to push for a better deal.
"Pay is really important for staff, but it's not the only issue - and we're still dealing with major impacts on workloads after the restructure that was visited upon us in 2020," she said.
"And we're still seeing the impacts of understaffing right across the board - academic and professional staff.
"We also saw a lot of casual staff losing work during the pandemic and none of that workload balance has really been addressed in this round of negotiations. We're also seeing staff majorly overburdened if they're having to perform the work that that used to be done by two people.
"They've shifted their offer from 9 per cent to 12 per cent - this reflects the industrial action that we took earlier in the week and the determination of staff generally to make sure that UOW management comes up with something better to reflect improved conditions for staff."
A UOW spokesman said the university was confident agreements would be reached.
"UOW is committed to achieving agreements that ensure the university is a viable and sustainable organisation into the future, promote inclusive and equitable work practices, and provide supportive and flexible career pathways for staff," he said.
"The discussions have been productive with progress made on several issues. The university is confident that agreements can be reached through negotiation.
"The university regularly reviews casual employment arrangements to ensure they meet our obligations to employees and that the workforce mix is appropriately balanced."
Staff will meet and decide how to proceed with their bargaining for a new enterprise agreement, and Professor Probyn-Rapsey said more industrial action was likely if if was needed.
"We're looking forward to seeing what they come up with, but on [the] matter of workload, and on the matter of the pay offer, I think we'll definitely see a bit more industrial action," she said.
"The 12 per cent offer is still well below what we were asking for, and it's still well below the sector average (and) below inflation.
"There's other universities just down the road who are offering 14-and-a-bit per cent."
The University of Wollongong was contacted for comment.
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