Uni rethinks offer to staff

by Chris Griffith
Published 26 May 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


A controversial draft industrial award promoted last month by Queensland University of Technology's Prof Peter Coaldrake has been withdrawn by the university's vice-chancellor.

But in a statement to The Sunday Mail, vice-chancellor Prof Dennis Gibson has denied any difference of opinion between himself and Prof Coaldrake.

The saga began on April 19th, when Prof Coaldrake released a circular to all QUT staff promoting a draft industrial award.

Prof Coaldrake said QUT had been selected as the first university to have the conditions of all general staff consolidated into one minimum industrial award. "This is an exciting initiative for QUT and will establish a safety-net award for the negotiations of all future conditions of employment at QUT."

Prof Coaldrake was acting vice-chancellor at the time.

But the proposal attracted flack from the staff's union, who claimed the award would lead to "a severe reduction in career paths, a reduction in future take home pay, and worse conditions of employment".

A stop work meeting took place on April 30th.

On May 7th, after returning from overseas, Prof Gibson sent an electronic mail apology to QUT staff saying the award was "not authorised".

Prof Gibson said he had "instructed" the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association "to withdraw the matter from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission".

"I want to let staff know that the draft award was not authorised by me or by any QUT officer with authority to act on behalf of the University. QUT has a fine record as a fair and reasonable employer and our staff enjoy top conditions of employment. I am sorry that this misunderstanding has occurred."

The memo was interpreted by some as a rebuke of Prof Coaldrake.

But in a statement to The Sunday Mail yesterday, Prof Gibson said there was no difference of view between himself and his deputy.

"The message sent out to all QUT general staff by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Peter Coaldrake, on the 19th April was prepared for the Vice-Chancellor's signature. If I had been in Australia, it would have been signed by me. The contents of the note represented my understanding of the position. That understanding was obviously shared by the Acting Vice-Chancellor."

by Chris Griffith