30 Aug 2017 Ferado

THE Fair Work Commission has agreed to Murdoch University’s request to terminate its existing enterprise agreement (EA) with staff.

In a statement released this afternoon, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) WA secretary Gabe Godding said the decision was disappointing but not unexpected.

“NTEU’s position has always been that Murdoch employees deserve fair and reasonable working conditions, consistent with those that apply elsewhere in the university sector,” she said.

“This decision will not change our bargaining position which is to achieve an agreement that provides efficiency gains without eliminating key rights or entitlements.”

Ms Gooding also criticised the $2.8 million Murdoch University spent on legal fees on bargaining, the case and actions against the union.

She said it was difficult to see how the university could justify the expense when it had used its $5 million operational deficit as part reason for the termination application.

From September 26, Murdoch University will be free to reduce wages by 25 to 39 per cent, cut redundancy entitlements, remove academic workload regulation, eliminate employer provided paid parental leave and remove the current requirement to consult staff before implementing workplace changes.

Ahead of the Fair Work Commission hearing, Murdoch University committed to maintaining staff wages and other benefits for six months if the existing EA was terminated.Speaking at the time, Murdoch University director of people and culture Michelle Narustrang said the existing EA was unnecessarily large and complex.

“Terminating our existing agreement will reset the clock and allow both parties to negotiate from a more workable starting point,” she said.

“We need an agreement that reduces administrative burden and allows us to manage our business more effectively.”

The NTEU and Murdoch University have been locked in negotiations over a new EA since April 2016 but have so far failed to reach an agreement.

Murdoch University subsequently applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the existing EA, which covers more than 3000 staff but has now expired.

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