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Issue #1603      July 24, 2013

Protected action win at UWS

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) have finally won the right to vote in a ballot for protected industrial action, with the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) approval of the ballot application.

NTEU members at UWS will be able to vote on taking industrial action in the ballot that will begin on July 29.

In a major victory for the union, the FWC rejected every objection of the university and in fact reiterated the provisions of the Act and case law that allow for members to vote in a protected action ballot.

“Our application should have been treated as non-controversial. Instead, management of the university tried to make it a technical, legal matter. This distortion of usual procedure is against the spirit and intention of the Act,” NSW division secretary Genevieve Kelly said.

Kelly said that NTEU members are angry that UWS management took the very unusual step of spending university resources and taxpayers’ money engaging Maddocks Lawyers, an expensive law firm, to negotiate a new enterprise agreement and no one from the management of the university is available in the room to negotiate.

NTEU UWS members want to use the ballot to send a clear message to Vice Chancellor Reid and Maddocks Lawyers that the NTEU branch is committed to progress negotiations and get an agreement expeditiously.

“The provision in the Fair Work Act was meant to ensure that unions do not take industrial action without the consent of their members. Now we have a public university using a firm of highly paid lawyers to attempt to deny union members the right to vote in a ballot. The words “as far as practicable” should be deleted from the relevant clause,” Kelly said.

“The legislation must be changed to stop this sort of vexatious employer behaviour.”   

Next article – A Devil encounter in the Tarkine Wilderness

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