“If you choose to do this, it would be a real contribution that you would be making to your colleagues, and to the future of the university,” Professor Maskell wrote.
The National Tertiary Education Union has urged staff to vote no to the proposal.
The union’s national president, Alison Barnes, said university vice-chancellors were “engaging in aggressive and crude cost-cutting rather than supporting the future of research and learning in this country”.
Delegates of the National Tertiary Education Union’s Melbourne University branch have been meeting via Zoom with staff this week to discuss the EBA variation, including concerns it erodes existing redundancy entitlements.
Under the proposed variation, staff who take a voluntary redundancy would receive a less generous payout than those who are forced into redundancy.
“I think that this is entirely reasonable because it is voluntary,” Professor Maskell wrote.
He criticised the union, saying it had refused to negotiate.
The University of Melbourne is one of more than a dozen tertiary institutions that turned down the jobs protection framework negotiated between the union and the university sector in an attempt to save an estimated 12,000 jobs.
Universities have been omitted from the Morrison government’s $70 billion JobKeeper scheme.
The University of Melbourne has already forecast a revenue downturn of between $260 million and $320 million next year and a higher shortfall in 2021.
According to its 2019 annual report, tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday, international students made up 44 per cent of the university’s student load last year and 59 per cent of its student revenue.
The hit from COVID-19 equates to about a third of the $1.06 billion the university earned in fees and charges last year, when it recorded a surplus of $74 million.
Australian universities have taken a huge financial hit this year. Monash University expects to suffer a similar-sized dowturn in revenue, forecasting a downturn of $350 million this year and more in 2021.
Deakin University and Swinburne University have announced plans for staff redundancies.
Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.