Union Disputes Terms of Variation at James Cook University

The National Tertiary Education Union has written to management at James Cook University calling on them to withdraw their application to the Fair Work Commission to vary the James Cook University Enterprise Agreement (letter below).

“JCU management advised staff voting for the Variation last week that they were voting to defer their 30 September 2020 pay rise of 2% until 31 December 2021, but our legal advice is that the Variation doesn’t require the University to pay the 2% in December 2021,” says NTEU JCU Branch President, Dr Jonathan Strauss.

“Whether they meant to or not, our advice is that management have misinformed staff about what they were voting for, so the Variation should not be approved. I don’t think management can just put their hands on their hearts and say they will pay the increase at the end of 2021. Staff didn’t vote for a promise, they voted on what was presented to them as a legally enforceable variation,” Strauss added.

“We are not doing this to simply delay the Variation or out of some form of sour grapes. If the Variation doesn’t do what staff have been told it does, it cannot be approved by the Commission,” Strauss added.

“The Variation is really poorly drafted,” says NTEU Queensland Secretary, Michael McNally. “It contains cut and paste errors, ambiguous terms and doesn’t do what management said it does. It’s a shame they stopped negotiating with us and didn’t run the draft past us or we could have saved all this hassle.”

“If management have to re-do the vote because they couldn’t draft the Variation properly, that’s on them not us. We can’t let a Variation that we think is fundamentally flawed sail through if it doesn’t do what management said it does,” McNally added.

Media comment and queries:

Dr Jonathan Strauss, NTEU JCU Branch President:

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