Pay deal in uni’s favour
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