James Cook U management waits on umpire’s decision

VC Sandra Harding says staff savings agreement depends on Fair Work Commission

James Cook U workers have backed a management proposed, union opposed deal to defer a pay rise and temporarily cut conditions. It was near run thing, with the enterprise agreement variation supported by just 51 per cent of staff turning out. Still a win is a win, as long, that is, as it stays that way.

Last week it appeared a deal was done because the Fair Work Commission would approve both ballot and the EAV itself. From the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the FWC encouraged “industrial parties” to negotiate award variations, adding, it “is available to assist in facilitating those discussions on request,” (CMM April 7).

But on Friday VC Sandra Harding was back-peddling away from a yellow jersey in the Tour d’EAV.

“The role of the Fair Work Commission is an important one and the process needs to follow its intended course.  When Fair Work makes its determination, we will then know what the next steps are and how, together, we may need to proceed,” she told staff Friday.

So, what happened? Perhaps it was the warning from the National Tertiary Education Union that the drafting of the agreement left ambiguity as to whether the deferred payrise needs be paid (CMM September 25).

The union suggests management withdraws the present prop and puts another EAV to a staff vote to clear up the alleged ambiguity.

Whatever comes next is, as Professor Harding acknowledges, now up to the FWC.