Sydney Uni staff prepare to strike

Speak out in solidarity with staff strike at Sydney uni, February 27. Photo: Patrick Harrison

The National Tertiary Education Union released the statement below on March 1.

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National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Sydney will strike for 24 hours on March 7 over enterprise bargaining.

“This is the first strike in a decade and shows just how riled our members are at management's arrogance and its lack of commitment to the enterprise bargaining process,” said branch president Michael Thomson.

“We logged our enterprise bargaining claims on August 7 last year.

Management took ages to respond. Its main thrust since has been a serious attack on working conditions. While management has now backed down on removing protections around intellectual freedom, it is offering less job security, wants to reduce sick leave entitlements, cut workload and work hours provisions and requirements to properly classify general staff positions,” he said.

“Management is refusing to limit the numbers of casuals and is trying to wind back provisions for fixed-term staff to convert to ongoing positions.

"It wants to reduce obligations to consult about workplace change, remove all commitments to prevent and eliminate discriminatory employment practices and do away with restrictions on general staff having to work regular overtime.”

In a recent ballot conducted by the Fair Work Commission, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of work stoppages. At a further meeting on the main campus on February 27, members voted in favour of a 24 hour stoppage. A meeting at the Cumberland campus also endorsed the strike action.

If university management fails to sign a “heads of agreement” by mid-March, members will strike for a further 48 hours on March 19-20.
Thomson said the NTEU would mount pickets on all seven main entrances to the University of Sydney campus on March 7, from 7am.

“Over 90 members signed up for picket line duty right after our meeting on Wednesday and more support is pouring in. Around 500 new members have joined since our last enterprise agreement was signed in September 2009,” he said.

The NTEU branch is meeting with Unions New South Wales to secure support of the trade union movement more broadly.