20 October 2017 | Download as PDF

Information for QTU Members at Central Queensland Institute of TAFE

QTU/AEU(Q) reluctantly signs single Central Queensland University Agreement

While the QTU/AEU(Q) (QTU) had a principled position not to sign the agreement, in weighing the key issues, TAFE Executive reluctantly determined it was in members’ interests to proceed with signing.

If the QTU chose not to sign the agreement the following would occur:

  • Not being party to the agreement, the QTU could be blocked from any agreement implementation consultation including being denied membership of the Joint Consultative Committee.
  • It is likely that the Union would need to re-establish the QTU as a bargaining representative in the next round of negotiations.

These two possible eventualities would restrict the QTU/AEU(Q) from being able to effectively support its members in CQUniversity for the life of the Agreement. As a result, the General Secretary signed the Agreement on 17 October 2017 and the union has proceeded with preparing for certification by the Commission as per the Fair Work Act.

Following the conclusion of negotiations for the Central Queensland University Certified Agreement both CQUniversity and the QTU/AEU(Q) conducted ballots.  The University put the single agreement to a ballot without resolving two final threshold matters with the QTU/AEU(Q):

  • refusing a separate agreement for VET educators; and
  • requiring an increase in contact hours to 22 hours per week.

The result of the single agreement is that it would include Academics, Professional staff and, now, Vocational Educators.

It is acknowledged that the QTU ballot of members in CQUniversity returned a 64% no vote.

In contrast, the CQUniversity employer ballot returned a positive response. Of the 3,306 eligible employees, 1,243 voted with only 82 returning a no vote. The result was that the majority of employees voted to accept the single draft Central Queensland University Certified Agreement 2017.

Following the returns, it was clear that CQUniversity would proceed with the agreement and that the National Tertiary Education Union was eager to sign. The question then arose whether the QTU/AEU(Q) should refuse to sign the proposed agreement. This decision needed to be made by TAFE Executive and the question of whether to be a party to an agreement that would be binding on membership, regardless of their rejecting the agreement, was not lightly asked or answered. A number of considerations were weighed in the process of making the decision.

The QTU/AEU(Q) did not want to contribute to a diminution effect on conditions in relation to TAFE Queensland and a majority of CQU QTU/AEU(Q) members voting had rejected the draft agreement through the ballot. Additionally, it was, and is, a matter of principle that given our members’ rejection of the proposal, the QTU/AEU(Q) should adhere to the decision particularly given the employer had taken the matter to ballot without having resolved two threshold matters in negotiations.

On the other hand, there were a number of ramifications for the QTU and its members, if the union did not sign the agreement.

Given the significant vote in favour of the agreement in the employer’s ballot, CQUniversity will proceed to having the agreement certified in Fair Work.

Having sought advice, there was no compelling reason identified that indicated a result where Fair Work would not register the agreement.  Consideration was given for the QTU/AEU(Q) to seek to stop the registration of the agreement by arguing that it does not meet the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT). However, if the Union had proceeded with this approach it would have needed to argue that the CQU VET educators and all other employees were disadvantaged by the agreement. This is not a case that was likely to be successful, given the conversion of two weeks of NAT to REC, 2.5% salary adjustment for VET educators in excess of other employees and other conditions remaining similar. Such a case would only result in hindering the payment of salary increases to members and other employees.

Additionally, given the compelling support for the agreement in the employer ballot, CQUniversity was within its rights to establish a single agreement given employees had been afforded the opportunity to vote in the employer ballot, regardless of the opposition by both or either of the QTU/AEU(Q) and/or Together Union.

As a result, TAFE Executive reluctantly determined that the single agreement should be signed.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union