Enterprise Bargaining

4 July 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) are continuing with the most recent meeting held on Wednesday, 26 June. Information is available from the JCU Enterprise Bargaining webpage.

For the benefit of all staff, the University is providing further information that may be useful.

As advised previously the cash position of the University is declining and we have forecast an operating deficit result for the 2013 budget, including the 2.6 per cent salary increase that was considered as part of the budget by Finance Committee of Council and subsequently approved by JCU University Council. This action occurred late 2012 prior to wages being discussed as part of the bargaining process.

The $26 million decrease in funding from the Commonwealth Government has further impacted the University's financial position and it is important that any pay rise is sustainable over the period of the EA.

Since May 2009, staff salaries have risen by 18.6% including the 2.6% increase all staff received from June 1 this year. This last increase was awarded as a result of an administrative decision.

The University has offered to increase this to 3% in 2013 with further increases of 3% in each of 2014 and 2015. This offer, a 9% increase over the life of the EA, is subject to the University achieving productivity outcomes relating to flexibility and efficiency.

In addition to the offer of an annual pay rise up to 3%, the University provides a range of benefits including:

  • 17% superannuation

  • 17.5% leave loading

  • 5 weeks annual leave

  • Long Service Leave

  • Parental Leave

  • Personal Leave (Sick/Carers)

  • Study and assistance programs for career development

  • Flexible working arrangements (determined by operational requirements)

Many of these benefits are more generous than what is offered either by other universities or other employers in north Queensland.

The tertiary sector provides for 17% superannuation compared to the general level in Australia of 9%. Local councils offer 9% and large local employers such as Queensland Nickel offer 11%. Further, JCU staff have five (5) weeks annual leave as opposed to the national norm of four (4) weeks plus staff have received additional paid days off over the Christmas to New Year period.

Across the tertiary sector a number of universities are engaged in EA negotiations and only two have fully concluded. Among the rest only five – including JCU – have made offers in relation to pay scales: The University of Sydney has offered a 2.9% per annum increase, with conditions, over three years; Griffith 2% per annum for two years and 3% for the last year; Murdoch University 4% from June 30 this year, then 2% per annum for the following two years. The Australian Catholic University, while not putting a figure forward, has said at a minimum it would be in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics the Consumer Price Index has increased by 2.5% between the March quarter of 2012 and the March quarter of 2013. A number of other universities have made administrative decisions to increase salaries: Charles Sturt 1.5%, Deakin 1.5%, and LaTrobe 1.5%.

The NTEU originally sought an annual increase of 7% over the life of the new Enterprise Agreement. The NTEU has now reduced this to 5% in 2013, 5.5% in 2014 and 6% in 2015, although as reported in the Cairns Post on June 13: The union’s JCU representative, Dr Jan Wegner, described the proposed 3 per cent rise as ‘‘inadequate’’. ‘‘We won’t be settling for anything less than 4 per cent..’’

With the 2.6% increase already being paid, JCU salaries for both academics and professional and technical staff are either just above or slightly below the median level for the sector. Similarly senior executive salaries, set by University Council through the Remuneration and HR Committee, are also around the median level as determined by the Mercer Executive Remuneration benchmarking of senior positions across Australian universities.

EA negotiations are ongoing as the University and unions continue to discuss a pay rise that is sustainable over the period of the agreement and achieves productivity outcomes relating to flexibility and efficiency.

Regards, Heather

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Heather Gordon|Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (University Services) & Registrar

James Cook University