Hundreds of students and staff joined the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) picket lines at the Sydney University on March 7.
Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the Finance Sector Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union supported and attended the picket.
The picket was followed by a 300-strong rally. The NTEU has voted to stop work again for 48 hours if management does not cooperate during bargaining.
Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans spoke to several participants.
Senior lecturer in bio ethics Chris Jordens
“If VC Michael Spence handed in his resignation we could employ six professors. The university can't afford to get new teachers but can give him his wage. I have been working for 15 years trying to create a small career out of this, but I am still not full-time. I still only have insecure work; I only have half a continuing position after 15 years.
“I gathered $3 million worth of grants and have more and more PhD students to supervise and competition for grant funding is harder and harder to get. That's why I am on strike today.”
IT at Sydney College of the Arts Roselle and CPSU member Morgan Jones
"We shut down all of Roselle. We closed the campus because our working conditions are worth defending. It is great to see solidarity between the CPSU and NTEU. We have to win, because the uni can't function without its lecturers and general staff."
NTEU Sydney branch secretary Michael Thompson
“We are very happy. It has been a hugely successful beginning [to the] campaign. Carillon Ave, where I was on the picket line, was filled with staff and students. We have shut Sydney uni down today with the help of the NTEU, CPSU, the student association, SUPRA [Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association] and other unions.
“This great action shows we are prepared to fight — this fight will be good for students, staff and the university. Fighting united, and we will win."
Student union president David Pink
"Phenomenal strike. When Sydney uni last had a strike, I was 10 years old. Long-term activists say this is the best picket they have seen in 20 years. From the association's perspective we have not seen such mass participation from students for a long time.
“Students see solidarity is important with staff because if they go down, students go down. The Association pledges to go out with staff every time there is a strike by staff.”
Long-term lecturer Mike Karadjis
"I have had to get work at UWS [the University of Western Sydney] as well as [Sydney university] to keep my head above water.
“Casualisation means it's harder for unions to meet and mobilise members. The day the Sydney uni NTEU has a meeting is a day I'm tutoring on another campus, for example.
“There are only little bits of jobs. At UWS, my other job, consultation time per week was one hour, then it went to half an hour, then it went to nothing. This was UWS. But Usyd had nothing.
“It’s great to see so many on the picket lines.”