From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Goss from the world of glossies. Rumours abound that UK Glamour editor Jo Elvin, an Aussie, was apparently offered the Vogue editorship before Edwina McCann in last week’s coup at the top fashion mag. Pat Ingram — publishing queen now at Sunday Life — tried to get Elvin to return home to launch Grazia in 2008 back when Ingram was running the lifestyle mags at ACP, so Elvin has been highly regarded for a while.

Just before she was sacked Kirstie Clements spent a week in Bali with her best girlfriends, including ACP exec Deborah Thomas, celebrating her 50th birthday. Word is that Clements, who headed up Vogue for over a decade, may be considered for McCann’s old job as the editor of Harper’s Bazaar. Would they really swap jobs? “Stranger things have happened,” says one gossip from the glossies.

Plus, it’s an open secret in magazine circles that News Life Media’s new CEO Nicole Sheffield is shopping around the editorship of Sunday Magazine. We hear that more big heads will roll as Nicole is unhappy with most of the magazines she has inherited.

ABC insiders spill the beans. It seems ABC employees are always willing to dish on life as an Aunty staffer, you just have to ask. One tells of positions disappearing:

“ABC News is a great place to work — if you’re in Sydney. The other state newsrooms have suffered since automation and costly News 24 came along. When senior journalists, editors, directors and cameramen leave they’re replaced by juniors or not at all. Radio news has been all but abandoned and career prospects have dried up … e.g. the Asia Pacific News Centre head position in Melbourne was advertised recently then withdrawn as soon as applications closed to save money.”

Another complains of emotional mistreatment for casual staffers:

“No doubt the ABC’s permanent employees have some great working conditions, but look at the newsroom to see things getting rough. While middle management stays bloated with many layers of overlapping ‘editors’, the front-line ranks have been steadily attrited, with casuals being alternatively taken on to do the heavy lifting (i.e. actually reporting anything) and put off. An employer that values its employees emotional well-being probably shouldn’t keep people hanging on for six months and more at a time, mostly working full-time but wondering if they’ll even have shifts next week.”

Got more tales from life as a national broadcaster worker? Drop us a line or send your tip anonymously.

The milk wars erupts. We love tips about coffee and sugar in the office and this one from the Victoria Department of Sustainability & Environment is a ripper. It was sent in late March, but apparently milk rationing has been in force since the previous Labor government:

Dear Colleagues

The Department kindly supplies tea, coffee, chocolate and milk for the use of staff. Where possible, we try and cater for various dietary requirements, for example lite milk, soy milk, etc. This is a free service to staff and one that should be regarded as a service rather than a rite[sic]. With this in mind, I ask that milk is for adding to coffee or tea and should not be used as a regular drink or cereal additive. If you feel the need to have breakfast at work, then please bring your own milk supplies, label them with your name and place them in the refrigerator for your own personal use.
Your cooperation in this matter is for the benefit of all staff.

Regards

Nick Daicos
Group Manager, Business Services Land Victoria Department of Sustainability & Environment

Woolies rewards card screw up. Yesterday in tips Crikey flagged an issue with Woolworths, where reward cards were accidentally offering significant cash discounts to customers. Yesterday afternoon Woolworths confirmed the issue to the papers, with stories revealing that customers received discounts of $5-$50 because of the malfunction. One reader got their own Woolworths reward:

“At self-serve Waverley Gardens (south-east Melbourne), the deduction for a ‘Everyday Rewards Only special was not visible in the main amount. Deleting the item produced the magical effect of deleting both its price and subtracting the discount for a second time. Confused the poor chaps for a while as they scanned and rescanned before finally giving me the $5 item for a manual $2 entry. I think I finished with an overall discount of about $11.”

Tamworth festival planners don’t walk the line. Tamworth Country Music Festival organisers are spending almost $25,000 to send three staff on a fact-finding mission to Nashville next month, to study the American way of making country music.  The trip has sparked concerns among some Tamworth fans that their festival will become Americanised. “Aussie country music fans and Tamworth locals are up in arms … don’t turn Tamworth Country Music Festival into an American festival,” one music lover told Crikey.

But the country music festival co-ordinator Kate Baker reassured fans the Tennessee trip would focus on the business model of successful festivals, as well as securing a big-name US artist to play the next Tamworth festival in January 2013. “We’re not going over there to replicate what they do,” Butler told Crikey. She said the travelling staff wanted to “add a few more items to the menu” of Tamworth, while gleaning ideas on how to attract younger demographics to country music festivals. The trip has been funded by NSW’s Tamworth Regional Council, which helps organise the festival.

Swinburne’s budget slashed $35 million. Swinburne’s vice-chancellor announced $35 million in cuts  in an email to her staff yesterday, after the Baillieu government slashed TAFE funding:

Dear Colleagues,

In recent days, many TAFEs and dual sector universities have publicly released figures around the likely budget impacts for their institutions resulting from the Victorian Government’s funding cuts to TAFE.

I have been determined to withhold making any statements about the impact on Swinburne’s budget until we had carefully worked through the numbers. I felt that it was important not to publicly release any budget figures until I was in a position to communicate the impacts internally to our staff who have continued to show deep commitment and focus during this challenging time.

Following a briefing to University Council last night, I am able to inform you that the overall cost impact of the Government’s budget decision for Swinburne is likely to be in the order of $35 million in 2013.

I need to be upfront with staff that a financial impact of this magnitude will require us to take difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead.

Like other institutions, it will be necessary to respond to this reduction in our budget by reducing the number of courses that we offer through our TAFE. Regrettably, like other institutions, there will be redundancies.

However, I want to be clear with staff that this problem is not TAFE’s alone. Because TAFE contributes to overheads across the university, we will also need to examine our shared support services common to TAFE and higher education.

The other significant flow-on impact will be to our pipeline of TAFE students who articulate into higher education. Last year, 20 per cent of commencing undergraduates were admitted on the basis of their TAFE qualifications. If we cannot protect this pipeline, which has been a vital part of Swinburne’s growth story in recent years, there will be significant impacts across higher education as well.

I take this opportunity to assure you that we will not be making any decisions lightly, nor have we accepted the government’s decision without strongly voicing our concerns.  Swinburne is today holding formal discussions with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to provide feedback on the impact of the TAFE budget cuts on Swinburne. This follows many hours spent over recent weeks by Linda Brown and her team discussing impacts with government representatives.

The executive leadership team and I will continue to examine these changes from the perspective of all parts of the university, in particular, the impact it will have on courses and staffing requirements in TAFE, as well as the impact on staff numbers in higher education and general staff.

This is a time where all options are on the table and we do not wish to close off ideas.

To this end, we are reviewing a range of initiatives to address the negative impacts of the budget changes, many of which are already underway, including: a consolidation of the courses that we offer both in TAFE and higher education to ensure maximum use of our resources; developing new course offerings in higher education and VET that respond to market demand and can be introduced in 2013; and a review of our physical infrastructure to maximise utilisation.  We are seeking independent advice to model the various scenarios before any decisions are made. Because the decisions we take will be vital to Swinburne’s future, it will be the subject of detailed consideration at a full day meeting of the University Council in early July.  There will also be a formal process of consultation to ensure that staff and relevant unions have opportunities to comment on proposed changes.

I promise to keep all informed as our analysis continues.

Kind regards,

Linda

Professor Linda Kristjanson
Vice-Chancellor & President
Swinburne University of Technology

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Peter Fray

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