The Monash University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) took its enterprise bargaining campaign to prospective students, after a year of little progress.
On August 6, the Clayton campus open day, NTEU members handed out flyers and asked students, staff and supporters to sign an open letter calling on the university executive to agree to a fair pay rise, secure jobs and safe workloads.
Hundreds of conversations were had throughout the morning about the impact that staff working conditions have on student learning experiences. Thousands of flyers were distributed to a very supportive crowd.
Current and prospective students understand the value and importance of having teaching and support staff, who are paid fairly and not burnt out.
When students are largely seen by management as a fee-paying number in the system, it is important for them to know that there are staff who still care about their well-being and learning experience.
At 12pm, NTEU members stepped away from their open day stalls to participate in a stop-work rally. More than 100 people gathered, blocking a main thoroughfare, to listen to speeches and take part in chants calling on management to agree to a fair agreement.
Union members spoke about their experiences trying to teach to classes of 30+ students, without being paid for preparation time. They spoke about the impact not being paid for consultations and marking has on the feedback and support their students receive. They spoke about how, in a cost-of-living crisis, university management has found the funds to give the outgoing Vice Chancellor an above-inflation pay rise, but offer teaching staff a pay cut.
The speeches from academic and professional staff members were raw, showing the real impact difficult conditions have on the lives of working people.
Monash University’s enterprise agreement expired more than a year ago and management has been stalling and rejecting the NTEU’s demands.
Many universities across Victoria are in the same position: the Victorian Division of the NTEU backed this action as part of a series of escalating state-wide industrial actions at open days.
[Brenna Dempsey is a member of the Monash University Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.]