FEDERATION University Gippsland is at the tail-end of a rigorous restructure cutting nine print department jobs and a sweep of voluntary redundancies.
The university’s Vice Chancellor David Battersby has refused to disclose the number of farewelled workers; The Express understands the figure could be as high as 40.
Professor Battersby said the information was “confidential” and it was not university policy to release the names or number of staff accepting voluntary redundancy packages from December 2014.
He confirmed nine staff at the campus printery, once responsible for printing student textbooks for all Monash University campuses, had left the university last week.
“The Ballarat campus already has a printery, and this was one of the issues when the institutions came together; you’ll have duplications in some areas,” Professor Battersby said.
“The aim of the university is to grow student numbers and there has been a university-wide restructure, and we have created four new faculties and new administrative structures.”
According to the National Tertiary Education Union, and a recently redundant staff member, between 30 and 40 staff have taken redundancy packages since the end of last year.
Former Monash University Gippsland Student Union executive officer Daniel Jordan said the number could be as high as 70, hearing reports of a “secret” farewell party at the campus earlier this month.
Mr Jordan said the redundancies were a “brain drain” removal of hundreds of years of knowledge, and brought into question the credibility of the university.
He said the university’s practices modelled the TAFE system, ridding itself of many talented academic and professional staff and hiring short-term casual staff.
“I don’t want it to fail, but I’m fearful that it will if they don’t change their model of operation,” Mr Jordan said.
He was disappointed Professor Battersby declined to confirm the number of redundancies, stressing it was a public institution.
“They have a duty of care to Gippsland to let us know what is going on,” Mr Jordan said.
“They’re not Rio Tinto and need to be transparent for the public and prospective students who want to be informed about the number of staff and their expertise.”
NTEU division industrial officer Rhidian Thomas, who has been supporting campus staff through the redundancy process, said there had been long-term concern about how vibrant the Churchill campus would remain.
“Since separating from a long relationship at Monash and administering through Ballarat, people (have been) leaving and taking voluntary redundancy,” Mr Thomas said.
“There’s always that uncertainty, it’s not at rock bottom… it’s better than last year, but the morale is low with so many unknowns.”
The union’s Victorian state secretary Colin Long said he believed there was a standard redundancy provision, plus a $10,000 payout.
“It’s a fairly tight budget situation because of reduced enrolments, and dealing with duplication that has arisen as a result of the merger,” Mr Long said.
He said he had heard varied stories about enrolments, such as the local enrolments were higher, but the international numbers had collapsed.
“I think there are substantial revenue problems.”
Ex-employee ‘felt demoralised’
A FORMER Federation University staff member was told by management to say nothing about her redundancy.
“We were made redundant, there was a going away party and nobody was to tell people that they were leaving,” the former staff member said, who asked to remain anonymous.
She spoke of her 20-year career at Monash University, before Federation University took ownership of the Churchill campus in January 2014.
In this time, she said she went from looking forward to going to work every day, to feeling demoralised.
“They’re letting lecturers go, key staff go and are not looking at what you do. You don’t take it to the supervisors. The supervisors didn’t know staff were going because of the privacy,” she said.
Now retired, she said she feared for the future of the Churchill campus.
“I feel so sorry for the people left there, and the Valley. What’s going to happen with all these people going? There will be nothing left,” she said.