Murdoch U management says it wants a new enterprise agreement in place by year’s end but from a union perspective it appears the university is keener on talking about talking than sitting down and discussing terms.
The National Tertiary Education Union says it met with the university at the start of September and has tried multiple times to arrange further meetings since then. “The failure of the university to agree to any of the seven proposed dates, or to propose alternative dates, is clearly not consistent with your expressed desire for face to face negotiations, nor your avowed commitment to good faith bargaining,” NTEU General Secretary Grahame McCulloch says in a letter Provost Andrew Taggart. The union has asked the Fair Work Commission to direct the university to start talking.
So, is the University preparing to put an offer to staff without union agreement? Perhaps, this is a high-risk strategy and variations of it have recently failed at James Cook U and the University of Sydney but Murdoch management has demonstrated it is game for just about anything in IR.
The NTEU would hate a university-only offer getting up, hence the push to get management talking in the hope of a deal. “McCulloch is both superbly tough and massively flexible as a negotiator, and if anyone can get this done he can,” a Murdoch-watcher says.