Following the issuing of change proposals that show how management’s strategy to cut 350 jobs at La Trobe University would be implemented, the Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, encouraged staff to use an internal staff forum (Yammer) to share their views about the proposal. On July 10th, he said:
“It is good to see colleagues using Yammer to post their feedback on the change proposals and consultation process. It is more important than ever we continue to have conversations about the proposed changes, either face-to-face or on other forums.”
La Trobe University staff took him at his word, and over the past week the forum has seen many comments about the pitfalls in the various change proposals that management has released.
According to NTEU members, flaws in each change proposal are substantial – a view shared by those contributing via Yammer.
The NTEU was alerted to an email sent to all staff earlier this week, reminding them of the University’s social media policy claiming it related to internal forums such as Yammer. This was despite the policy only relating to forums with a public audience.
Some staff have read this “reminder” as an attempt to silence criticism and discussion on Yammer about the proposed cuts, and the NTEU understands that some staff have left the forum as a result of this “reminder” email.
NTEU Victorian Division Secretary, Dr Colin Long said that staff know the proposed cuts would be extremely damaging and their right to speak out in defence of La Trobe University should not be curtailed by a University management that does not want to hear criticism.
“A key question from our members and students is “Who’s going to do the work?” but it’s a question the University seems unwilling to answer,” Dr Long said.
Dr Long said that significant workload has been overlooked in the change proposals. This has seen the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Future Ready) hastily convene meetings with students to try and reassure them that management actually knows what it is doing.
“Most of the proposals put by the University cut jobs, but don’t address workload. Management’s response has been to give vague assurances that this will be managed post-change. Members are seeing very clearly that management really has no idea, and staff will just be expected to do substantially more with far fewer staff – to the detriment of students, staff and the university itself,” said Dr Long.