James Cook University staff will vote today through Friday on management’s proposed enterprise agreement, which the National Tertiary Education Union opposes. Industry practise is that union and university hammer out a new deal on wages and conditions which they jointly put to staff but at JCU relations between the two sides can be combative and the current round is stalled on wages.
This is a high-stakes vote for both sides. A management win will be a big blow to the union’s standing on campus. However if the proposal fails it will be back to negotiations, with the university in a much reduced position – unless JCU does a Murdoch U and asks the Fair Work Commission to cancel the terms of the last enterprise agreement, thus establishing a lower base for wage negotiations. Now that would make for a brawl.