NTEU lifts results bans, continues industrial campaign

The NTEU is campaigning against fixed-term contracts and for a maximum workload, parental leave and Indigenous employment target

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) voted on January 13 to lift their ban on the transmission of student results.

More than 40 staff members who took part in the lawful industrial action had been stood down without pay for nearly eight weeks.

The decision to lift the ban followed concerns over attempts by university management to release unauthorised student results.

A statement by the NTEU UNSW branch president Sarah Gregson said the union “strongly suspected that students were graduated without confirmation that they had fulfilled the requirements of the degree to a satisfactory standard.”

NTEU members voted to submit student marks to ensure the integrity of the academic assessment process, but vowed to re-launch their campaign in the upcoming semester for a new enterprise agreement for academic staff.

The key sticking point in the dispute, which has been dragging on for nearly two years, is management’s refusal to roll back the unregulated use of fixed-term contracts and casual employment at the university.

The union is also seeking agreement on rates of pay, a maximum workload, improvements to paid parental leave and Indigenous employment targets.

The NTEU said staff were simply demanding conditions similar to those agreed at 32 other Australian universities.

Gregson said there was “little substance” to claims UNSW vice chancellor Fred Hilmer was willing to restart intensive negotiations with the NTEU.

On February 9, The Australian reported that Hilmer wants “full discretion” over employment at the university.

To kick off the campaign in 2011, the NTEU has called a protest outside the next UNSW Council meeting on February 21.

Gregson said the union is planning further action over the coming semester to support its enterprise bargaining claims “that will likely involve strikes, marks bans and protests”.

At Macquarie University, 18-month "on again, off again" enterprise bargaining negotiations have stalled and the union has called a four-day strike starting on February 28.

Macquarie University NTEU branch president Cathy Rytmeister said: “Staff are demanding a resolution of bargaining that includes a decent pay offer from management and restoration of conditions taken away under the Howard government.”

The union has also expressed concerns over alleged attempts by Macquarie University management to censor NTEU members’ blog posts and its refusal to allow the union to operate a stall during Orientation Week.

Comments

The very structure of Australian universities is what is fouled up. The administrators have outsourced most of their jobs to the 'full time faculty' who have in turn outsourced their jobs to casuals. The casuals do at least three-quarters of the teaching and research at most Australian universities.

The overpaid and underworked administrations should be sacked. Those 'full time faculty' with a knack for admin should be given formal administrative postings, the bulk of 'full time faculty' should have to reapply for their jobs and the casuals should have a chance at permanent employment.

I know casuals who have taught in a half-dozen departments in as many universities for over 20 years. Some of them have dozens of refereed publications, hundreds of publications, and thousands of citations - and they are still unable to get a permanent position. The NTEU needs to support hiring on the basis of merit and not just the preservation of the jobs of cronies.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.