The temper of the industrial times has changed as the National Tertiary Education Union adopts a make-nice strategy and managements respond.
The union was never looking for scalps in this bargaining round but after the Fair Work Commission’s ruling that Murdoch U is no longer bound by wages and conditions in the old enterprise agreement NTEU leaders started to push for peace, lest other universities decide to follow Murdoch’s hard-line approach.
So, last week deals were struck for new enterprise agreements at ANU and Edith Cowan, following Sydney the week before. There are now seven universities where management and union will jointly recommend a deal to staff, with at least one more soon to settle.
And now at Murdoch U, the test case for a tough management approach, the VC says she wants a deal by the end of the year. While the university’s pay offer is well under the emerging average it is entirely possible that both sides will set aside their anger and talk. The combination of a per cent age pay rise and flat cash increases Murdoch is offering is a model the NTEU likes – it increases the overall per cent age for junior staff.
Even at Western Sydney University, where the union leadership is famously unafraid of a fight, there are indications of nice being made. After a stop work the other week NTEU branch organiser Dylan Griffith says;
“there was a clear change to the tone of the negotiations. … “We are now confident that with the active support of members, bargaining can be completed with strong outcomes for members on salaries and super, job security, anti-casualisation measures, protection of incomes under organisational change within the next couple of months.”
The union also points to progress on stopping management simplifying misconduct and workload management, which are the sorts of areas the universities industrial relations lobby wants to get tough on and the NTEU wants to stop.
“We are certainly keen to secure new agreements, and we believe management is keen to get the process finished as well,” Mr Griffith says.