Pay deal in uni’s favour

The West Australian - - NEWS -

The Fair Work Com­mis­sion ad­mits its de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate a work­place agree­ment be­tween Mur­doch Univer­sity and its staff gives the em­ployer ex­tra bar­gain­ing power in a new pay deal.

Al­though it can legally re­duce wages by 29 to 39 per cent from this week, Mur­doch Univer­sity had pre­vi­ously sig­nalled it would not change staff pay for at least six months.

How­ever, the FWC con­cedes its de­ci­sion to abol­ish the ex­ist­ing agree­ment — which means staff are now bound by the in­dus­try award — would “change the con­text of bar­gain­ing, more to Mur­doch’s favour” when it comes to the new pay deal.

Com­mis­sioner Bruce Wil­liams noted fi­nan­cial prob­lems at the univer­sity, which is $5 mil­lion in deficit. Em­ployee costs were in­creas­ing at 10 per cent, while stu­dent fee in­come was ris­ing at 2 per cent.

The univer­sity told the FWC that ter­mi­nat­ing the agree­ment would help it re­con­fig­ure its busi­ness and re­turn to sur­plus.

But the Na­tional Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union claims year­long ne­go­ti­a­tions were never at a bot­tle­neck and its power at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble for a new pay deal had been un­der­mined be­cause the award had sub­stan­tially lower pay and con­di­tions. Kim Macdonald

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