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On 12 September 2013, the NTEU sent an email to its members called "Staff and Students Send a message to JCU Management".
This email contained a link to a template letter that encouraged staff to send a message to the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and/or members of the Remuneration and Human Resources Committee of JCU’s Council.
The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor have since received more than 180 emails in response. Some were sent to both the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor and some appear to come from other universities. The majority of these are template letters, although there are some that are personal emails.
JCU regards all 4988 employees as important,and some of the themes in these emails are important in finalising the Enterprise Agreement, so it has been decided to share those staff concerns with all staff, and provide a response.
The salary increase being offered by JCU isn’t sufficient/doesn’t meet the costs of living or inflation
JCU respects and values all employees of the University and recognises the contributions that you have all made towards the growth and success of the University.
JCU does understand that there are cost of living increases for employees. Equally employees appreciate that there are significant funding and deficit challenges for JCU.
The University has not come to its salary offer lightly. It values all employees, but it must also be responsible with expenditure of what are public funds.
JCU has made an offer of a 3% increase for 3 years from 1 June 2013. JCU has offered to extend this for a further year with another 3% increase in 2016, if the Unions, their members, and those staff not represented by the unions wish to have a four year agreement.
This offer is currently higher than:
the inflation rate - 2.4%;
the Consumer Price Index for Brisbane - 2.0% to the year to June 2013; and
the annual wage review conducted by the Fair Work Commission - 2.6% wage increase.
Further, as highlighted in JCU's email to staff on 9 September 2013, JCU believes its wage offer is on parity – or better - with announced offers at:
Deakin University - 3% each year for 3 years;
Murdoch University - 4%, 2% and 2%;
University of Sydney - 2.9% each year for 3 years;
University of Ballarat- 3% each year for 4 years; and
Charles Sturt University - 2.9% in 2013 and 3% each year for further 3 years.
JCU's wage increase also exceeds the proposed offers at:
Australian National University - 2% each year for 3 years;
Griffith University - 2%, 2% and 3%; and
RMIT - 2.5%, 2%, 2.5% and 2.5% in 2016;
The current offer will see staff receive a 9% pay increase over three years or 12% over four years if that course is chosen. This figure is compounded each year, making the total increase 9.2727% over the life of a three year agreement or 12.55% over four years.
In recognition of staff, JCU has not clawed back or diminished the benefits and entitlements of staff. In negotiating the Enterprise Agreement, JCU has agreed to the insertion of a range of new benefits/entitlements for staff. These include:
Additional Cultural Leave of up to five (5) paid days for participation in obligatory cultural events;
Additional leave of up to five (5) paid days for participation in state, national or international sporting events or competitions; and
Introduction of two (2) paid days Volunteering leave.
JCU has also agreed to the inclusion of the following loadings/allowances.
Payment of an indigenous language allowance;
Allowances for Health and Safety representatives;
Professional Loading for Professional and Technical Staff who undertake Academic duties; and
Extended the payment of the Clinical Loading to Dentists and Veterinarians who are qualified medical professionals and who undertake clinical duties.
The University has also withdrawn the further productivity increases it originally sought and there will be no changes to the conditions in the 2010 Enterprise Agreement relating to the span of hours or recompense for overtime and TOIL. Similarly, early termination of contracts for external funding fixed term provisions in clauses 19.1.2 and 19.1.3 of the 2010 EA remain. JCU will also commit to a decrease in casual academic teaching over the life of the new Enterprise Agreement of 15%.
We consider the benefits in the proposed new Enterprise Agreement are on terms that are equivalent overall and in some cases more generous than what is offered either by other universities across Australia or other employers in northern Queensland.
We hope that you will see when taking all of these points into account that the University's total package offered as part of this negotiation is a fair and reasonable one.
Senior executive remuneration far exceeds the wage offer made to staff
As previously stated, the salaries of Senior Management are conservative when compared to other Universities. JCU must be able to attract and retain Senior Management of a high calibre. This in turn not only attracts other employees to JCU but also students. To be in a position to do this, JCU needs to be able to pay Senior Management accordingly. However, we also understand the need to attract a high calibre of staff.
Wages for Senior Management are set by the Remuneration and Human Resources Committee of Council and are based on median benchmarks within the University sector. Further, the publicly available information about the remuneration of Senior Management, as published in the University annual reports is the total remuneration for “Key Management Personnel”, and this includes salary, superannuation, packaged benefits, leave loading, and leave entitlements.
The University understands the frustrations felt by staff over the past 12 months as we have engaged in the negotiation process for the Enterprise Agreement. JCU shares your frustration. However, the University is doing everything possible to finalise the Enterprise Agreement and allow you all the opportunity to vote on it and let us know what you think.
JCU has put an offer to the Unions to finalise the agreement and there is a meeting with the unions on Monday to do so.
As you are aware School holidays commence on 20 September 2013, which may mean that many staff will be taking the opportunity to spend time with their children. We are concerned that conducting a vote at such a time will mean that some staff will not have an opportunity to participate. Therefore any further delay means that staff would not have the opportunity to vote until mid to late October.
JCU believes it is unfair on staff not to have these matters resolved and will push to have the Enterprise Agreement put to a vote and begin the consultation process prior to the commencement of the school holidays.
We will provide a further update following Monday afternoon’s meeting.
Professor Robyn McGuiggan
Pro Vice Chancellor
Faculty of Law, Business and Creative Arts
- James Cook University
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