The NTEU scored a tactical victory on 28 July over an application by Monash University to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for the suspension of protected industrial action, notably the withholding of assessment results, on the grounds that it endangered the health or welfare of students. FWC Vice President Lawler found that the results ban did not pose a significant threat to student health or welfare as the NTEU exemptions process operates to prevent such harm. He decided on a nominal one hour suspension in order to “have no practical impact on the results ban”, which he recognised as a lawful and effective form of industrial action.
However, on 30 July Lawler ruled the other way, in favour of an application by Swinburne University and imposed a week-long ban on all industrial action. From 9am 1 August to 5pm 7 August, any academic who withholds exam results is no longer taking protected industrial action. In this case, Lawler accepted an argument by a psychologist that because students couldn’t enrol in next semester as they don’t have this semester’s results, it could impact on their general mental health.
On other fronts:
- Negotiations with ANU management have been suspended following what NTEU describes as a “derisory salary offer” for ANU staff. The university counters that “it is committed to a reasonable salary outcome for staff, whilst providing job security in a challenging financial period”.
- RMIT staff walked off the job for 2 hours on 31 July in the wake of “a provocatively low pay offer”.
- NTEU members at James Cook University have voted to step up industrial action in the face of stand downs threatened by university management the refusal of management to table a “reasonable salary offer”.