She said it was unlikely that the university would agree if there was no significant movement on the union side. On August 24, 2017, a JCU official contacted Ridd to accuse him of gross misconduct under the EA. JCU took an instruction requiring Ridd to remain confidential on the disciplinary matters in which he was involved at the time, citing the confidentiality requirements of section 54 of the EA. “We still have a large majority of employees who support or sit on the fence when it comes to the proposed enterprise agreement. James Cook University in North Queensland has lost its proposal to bypass the powerful National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and impose a new enterprise agreement through a direct staff vote. Between August and September 2017, Ridd emailed a number of colleagues, students and supporters, saying, among other things: “As usual, I have insulted some powerful organizations that do not like to be challenged, and instead of debating the matter, they only resort to threats and complaints.” The NTEU`s victory at James Cook University follows another victory at the University of Sydney earlier this month, when the university asked employees if they wanted a direct vote on their new enterprise agreement. Sydney employees declined the option and decided to continue union negotiations. On August 1, 2017, Ridd was invited to appear on Sky News Jones and Co, where he was interviewed by Alan Jones about the science around the health of the Great Barrier Reef. On November 21, 2017, the JCU issued a final vote of no confidence that allowed Ridd to respect the code of conduct and respect the strict confidentiality of the disciplinary procedure. But this was not a case on the benefits of different scientific positions. On the contrary, as Vasta J.A. put it: “This trial simply dealt with the proper implementation of a clause in an enterprise agreement.” On August 27, 2017, Ridd was ordered by the JCU to “not discuss any aspect of the serious misconduct while he is in court, except with an appropriate representative.” This, it was found, had the effect of ordering Ridd not to discuss the matter with his wife.
On October 23, 2017, JCU wrote to Ridd stating, in Vasta`s words, that he had “denigrated colleagues and did not restrict confidentiality in a series of emails,” contrary to the code of conduct. What lessons can higher education employers learn from this decision? Goonrey says such clauses are present in enterprise agreements at many Australian universities. Vasta made a similar observation. In summary, Vasta found that “the university did not understand the whole concept of intellectual freedom… Many aspects of the Code of Conduct cannot be linked to the concept of intellectual freedom and are certainly contrary to cl.14. The code of conduct is subject to EA kl.14. “I have the impression that such an approach is far too narrow,” he said, calling, as he did, to “limit the notion of intellectual freedom and subject it to behaviour clauses. The text of cl.14 does not indicate that such a limitation of its power or applicability exists.” .
. . The reporter sent Ridd`s email to Hughes, the head of one of the organizations that defied himself, for comment. Hughes then filed a formal complaint about Ridd`s email to JCU. . Ridd was employed at the JCU in 1989 and was head of the physics department from 2009. He led the JCU Geophysics Laboratory for 15 years and was an open critic of the general scientific consensus that factors such as human-accelerated climate change are accelerating the fall of the Great Barrier Reef. . In its campaign, the union referred to the high pay of James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding compared to the university in neighbouring Central Queensland.