Students protest against police brutality

Issue 
Photo: Rach Evans

About 100 people attended a rally at the University of Sydney on May 23 to protest the police brutality that has occurred at picket line held at the university earlier this month.

Staff at Sydney University are involved in an enterprise bargaining process between the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the university administration.

The university administration is trying to force through changes that would undercut pay and conditions for university staff, including more casualisation and creating teaching-only positions.

The union has launched an industrial campaign in response. There have been four strike days during the first semester, which have drastically affected the operations of the university.

The campaign has already made the administration back down on several of its attempts to undercut staff rights, such as unfair dismissal and academic freedom provisions.

However, the picket lines have been increasingly marred by violent interventions by the police.

The most recent strike day on May 14 showed a significant rise in violence. The picket lines were repeatedly attacked leaving two students hospitalised, one with a broken leg and another with cracked ribs.

The protest called on the vice-chancellor Michael Spence to immediately sign the union agreement and to rescind any invitation for police to enter campus. Spence released a statement saying that there was no “formal” agreement with the police but said: “In the case of recent industrial action ... we welcome their assistance.”

This “assistance” is in the form of violent attempts to intimidate strikers and their supporters into backing down.

Despite the threat of violence, the campaign is growing in support. Staff and students have vowed they will not be intimidated and the NTEU have organised another 24-hour strike to be held on June 5.

Campaigners are encouraging people to support the strike to show they support the campaign and put pressure on the university to implement the union’s demands.

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