The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) lodged notice of an industrial dispute with management of the University of New England (UNE) yesterday, however UNE vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood said the process was continuing as planned.
"The UNE Council were provided with a process update on the Time for Change program at Friday's UNE Council meeting," she said.
"The phase two consultation process was reported to and accepted by Council."
NTEU UNE branch president Professor Gabriel Donleavy said UNE management scheduled its Council consultation meeting for all staff for Friday September 22, starting half an hour before the all-staff meeting set by the Union the week before.
"Despite the resulting clash, 129 staff, including some who are not members of the NTEU, attended our all-staff meeting on 24 September," Prof Donleavy said.
"The motion that 'This meeting of the University of New England community expresses its lack of confidence in the Council of the University' was carried without dissent."
Prof Donleavy said the motion is targeting Council, because Council is meant to place checks and balances on management.
"Governance inherently involves strategic oversight," he said.
"Council should have ensured the executive really consulted the staff and the unions before agreeing to the restructure and redundancies.
"We are of the view that Management overlooked key elements of the consultation provisions required under the 2019-2022 Enterprise Agreements and thus failed to comply with these Agreements."
More than 100 people have already indicated they would take a voluntary redundancy, and the relevant paperwork was signed off by Prof Heywood last Thursday morning, however she says this will have no impact on the restructured operational plans currently being shared.
"These ideas were laid out earlier this year and have been discussed with the unions representing the staff at UNE over some months too," Prof Heywood said.
"Therefore the draft organisational redesign charts do not include the accepted voluntary redundancies as these positions no longer exist in the draft new structure.
"The workplace change is to ensure that UNE can operate effectively with fewer staff and not burden those who remain with additional duties.
"The consultation process ensures all who remain have a say in the future design."
Addressing the media at the UNE last week, Prof Heywood said savings of nearly $17million had been made in phase one of the Time for Change program.