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Industrial Relations, Union

University agreement quashed by full bench

National Tertiary Education Union 2 mins read

A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has quashed the approval of the Southern Cross University Enterprise Agreement 2021.

After more than a year of bargaining, management decided to conduct a non-union ballot in October 2022. At the time, management had not agreed to any proposals put forward by NTEU members.

The proposed agreement stripped core conditions including job security, procedural fairness and natural justice, and also offered an inferior pay outcome.

The ballot narrowly succeeded and the agreement was subsequently approved by the Fair Work Commission over NTEU objections.

The NTEU filed a Notice of Appeal, and the matter was heard by a Full Bench of the Commission on 18 October 2023.

On Tuesday, the Full Bench found SCU had misled staff in emails that claimed a $750 sign-on bonus would be paid to all casual staff when a majority of staff voted in favour of the agreement.

This was false as management was only required to pay, and only intended to pay, once the agreement was approved by Fair Work Commission.

Because of the misrepresentations made to staff the Full Bench found that it could not safely conclude that the majority of staff who voted “genuinely agreed” to the Agreement.

The full bench upheld the NTEU's appeal and quashed the initial approval of the agreement.

NTEU General Secretary Dr Damien Cahill welcomed the decision.

"This is a massive win for university staff who stood up for fair pay and conditions, and who supported contesting the validity of the ballot " he said.

"The Full Bench decision now provides an opportunity for Southern Cross University management to address its relationship with its staff and their Union by returning to the bargaining table and working with on a fair deal that is sustainable and keeps pace with pay and conditions across the higher education sector.”

"We hope all universities will take notice of this significant decision. The NTEU will stand against any attempt to circumvent negotiations with Union members.”

Contact details:

Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480

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