Southern Cross uni staff to take action

April 5, 2000

Southern Cross uni staff to take action


LISMORE — Southern Cross University (SCU) members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and National Tertiary Education Industry Union (NTEU) voted unanimously at a combined mass meeting on March 29 to hold a one-day strike and blockade the university on April 11.

Management intransigence in enterprise bargaining negotiations made the need for more militant action clear to the 150 campus unionists at the meeting. CPSU branch president Tom Lane reported that management has refused to budge from a miserable salary offer of 4.5% since negotiations began in December 1998.

The amount offered is what the federal government offers universities for salary rises. SCU management claims that no further funds are available, even though the university has $24 million in reserves.

As well as offering a salary "increase" well below the projected inflation rate, management has pushed to undercut a range of conditions and place all staff on individual contracts.

Mark Dolahenty, an NTEU industrial organiser, told the meeting that salary increases of more than 12%, with few or no loss in conditions, have been won in a number of universities in recent enterprise bargaining rounds.

There was some dissent to a proposal for rolling half-day stoppages. In discussion, unionists expressed a clear preference for collective action, such as the strike and an associated rally, over individual work bans. Discussion also centred on tactics for effective mass action, such as enlisting the help of local environmentalists.

A delegation from the SCU Student Representative Council attended the meeting and pledged support. Members of the campus Resistance club told Green Left Weekly that they would also help mobilise students to shut down the university on April 11.

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