CQU EB update
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No number 4, 3 June 2022, page no. 20
The QTU (acting as the AEU(Q)) has been negotiating for a replacement enterprise agreement for Central Queensland University (CQU) since early 2021.
Unfortunately, the negotiations have been in abeyance since the beginning of December, thanks to COVID, staff changes and uncertainty regarding the budget impact of international student numbers.
On 28 April, the parties received an updated financial report from the university, and while international students are slowly returning, other factors are impacting upon its financial recovery, in particular, the negative effects of high employment on domestic higher education student numbers. The vocational education and training (VET) budget is pretty much on target, although it is also feeling the effects of the tight labour market. So while things are not getting dramatically worse, they are still some way from getting better.
In the meantime, cost of living increases and the impact of high employment numbers in the broader community is hampering recruitment and retention of teaching staff, affecting the university’s attractiveness to potential vocational educators. Indeed, these factors impact upon both TAFE Queensland and CQU as public providers of VET. This is particularly so in regions where industry (such as mining) has the capacity to increase wages to attract skilled and capable staff. Anecdotally, many apprentices in Central Queensland enjoy wages comparable to an educator’s. Pay increases for CQU VET educators will improve attraction, as will implementation of flexibility measures that are still in train through the negotiations.
To fast track the effects of some of the forthcoming negotiated changes to conditions for CQU VET educators, College of Trades staff may soon enjoy increased flexibilities through a team based working arrangement, which will allow for a return to four day working patterns where mutually agreeable. In the meantime, many teaching staff are feeling the stress of being stretched too far, for too long, on the promise of replacement staff being imminent. However, while four-day work patterns and access to working from home will go a long way towards providing an adjustment to work/life balance, they alone will not get the workforce fully staffed.