JCU Senior Management Earns Failing Grade from Staff

National Tertiary Education Union

James Cook University (JCU) staff gave a grim assessment of the University's leadership in a recent survey, the results of which are published today.

Only 9% of respondents express confidence in Senior Management's ability to make good decisions about the future direction of the institution.

Moreover, only 10% believe the financial priorities of the institution were aligned with providing high quality education, only 2% consider the executive salaries to be appropriate for JCU's size, and only 12% feel that senior management care about the wellbeing of staff.

JCU employee and JCU National Tertiary Education Union Branch President, Dr Jonathan Strauss, says the results are damning for management.

"Our survey reveals the poor morale and excessive workloads at JCU, with 75% of respondents indicating their units had inadequate staffing to perform the required work and 44% report their workload is not compliant with the terms of the Enterprise Agreement," says James Cook University NTEU Branch President, Jonathan Strauss.

"Alarmingly, 64% of respondents indicate that working at JCU had negatively impacted their mental health in 2022, while 10 % 'prefer not to say'", Strauss adds.

"I hope that the new Code of Practice on psychosocial hazards in the workplace, will force JCU management to initiate genuine reform to improve staff wellbeing," he says.

"Members organised the survey because JCU management haven't run a staff survey since their disastrous 2015 'Voice' survey", says NTEU Queensland Secretary, Michael McNally.

"In that 2015 survey, less than 30% of staff said they thought senior management was doing a good job and things seem to be getting worse," McNally adds.

"I think they simply decided that no news was better than bad news, so they haven't run the survey since."

"I think the results are at least partly a result of two unpopular reforms initiated in 2022 by the incoming Vice Chancellor at JCU (Simon Biggs) which has soured the relationship with staff," McNally says.

"A major restructure of professional and technical staff was undertaken last year and 84 people lost their jobs,' McNally adds.

"The second reform, the introduction of a trimester model of teaching, is highly unpopular with staff with just 16% indicating they favour the model and 49% report their department will need to recruit staff for trimester teaching," McNally says.

JCU has had 17 months of enterprise bargaining and staff have not received a scheduled pay increase since June 2021.

Strauss notes that "The university's senior management frequently talk about JCU's financial woes. But, this has not been well received, with greater than 68% of staff indicating they do not trust Senior Management to report honestly and transparently on the University's financial position".

"The University Executive will not take heart to learn that 86% of survey respondents believe they should not accept a low pay offer because of JCUʼs claimed financial position" Strauss says.

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