The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has released survey results which it says highlight high levels of ‘workplace stress and dysfunction’ at Southern Cross University.
The survey report entitled ‘The final straw: Insights into workplace culture and staff well-being at Southern Cross University,’ found that 82 per cent of respondents had regularly experienced ‘psychosocial hazards’.
Psychosocial hazards are factors in the design or management of a workplace that increase the risk of work-related stress and can lead to psychological or physical harm
Sixty-three per cent of respondents to the survey rated SCU’s workplace culture as ‘negative or extremely negative’.
More than one third said they were ‘likely or very likely to resign from the university’.
The NTEU said that its report suggested that decisions by SCU management, such as a new ‘6 by 6’ teaching model, where subjects are taught in six blocks of 6 weeks, rather than the traditional university semester, had created impossible workloads and high levels of stress.
The union said that the report also highlighted evidence of management indifference and incompetence.
‘The results of this survey make for upsetting reading, with many workers resigned to the situation, some even calling Lifeline from their work desk,’ NTEU NSW Assistant Secretary, Vince Caughley said.
‘We had been responding to regular negative reports from our members, and know through our experience of current enterprise bargaining negotiations that SCU management is particularly hostile to union members and staff.
‘But the survey results presented an even worse situation than we had imagined.’
The union was highly critical of SCU management practice and approach.
‘Two actions by SCU management demonstrate that something is just not right,’ Mr Caughley said.
‘First, they actively blocked staff access to the survey via university email systems and their network, and sent us an angry letter. We do these surveys all the time around the country. It’s extremely rare that a uni management takes this step, but the survey results might suggest why.
‘Second, the university’s main campus is in Lismore, and obviously many staff experienced real trauma following the town’s two devastating flooding events earlier this year.
‘But when we requested a formal pause in enterprise bargaining negotiations, they insisted on only a one-week delay – who does that? Mr Caughley said.
The NTEU is calling for SCU management to urgently address the identified Work Health and Safety issues in consultation with, and in the service of, the SCU community.
SCU has been contacted for comment in response to this article.