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Title: "Supple, sassier and commercially-minded"? Assessing the current higher education employment relations agenda and the drive to individualise the Australian academic employment relationship
Contributor(s): Williamson, Amanda L  (author)
Publication Date: 2005
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Abstract: It is generally reported throughout recent Australian employment relations literature that employers are investigating and also utilising more individualised employment arrangements that promise greater flexibility and remove the intervention of third parties, such as unions, within the employment relationship. This has been motivated by factors such as labour market uncertainty, the reduction of award systems and other collectivist employment structures, and most recently, through the Coalition Government's promotion of individualised employment relations, such as Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). Indeed, with industrial reform high on the agenda of the Government, the individualisation of employment relations generally has been a recent focus of media and public attention within Australia. The higher education sector in Australia has been a long-standing bastion of industrial collectivism, boasting healthy union membership, and generally, a successful collective enterprise bargaining scheme at most universities with positive union involvement. In light of the current Government regime however, these collectivist trends are under threat, and employment relations within academia in Australia may be changed dramatically. Specifically, the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRs), released by the Coalition Government earlier this year, require that universities in Australia must achieve certain workplace staffing and management requirements in order to obtain funding from the Government. These reforms, coupled with the emergence within universities of 'executive managers' (Considine 2001: 149) and a greater internal desire within universities to become increasingly competitive in the global higher education arena, clearly raise many issues about academic employment in the near future. Will the Government's suggested performance measures be suited to the academic role? Will AWAs be used within universities to drive down conditions of employment for academic staff? How will universities comply with the HEWRRs, and at what cost to the academic employment relationship? This paper considers these questions, and the implications of the Government's current higher education industrial relations agenda. Specifically, it presents research undertaken in four university case studies, assessing the changing nature of the academic employment relationship, and in particular, evaluating the suitability of performance management and the use of AWAs within universities.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: 2nd Asia Pacific Postgraduate Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 23rd - 26th October, 2005
Conference Details: 2nd Asia Pacific Postgraduate Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 23rd - 26th October, 2005
Source of Publication: Presented at the 2nd Asia Pacific Postgraduate Forum
Field of Research (FOR): 180118 Labour Law
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 940501 Employment Patterns and Change
940599 Work and Institutional Development not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: E2 Non-Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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