UNSW dispute: letters of support for staff

Issue 

Staff at the University of New South Wales are in a protracted dispute with a notoriously right-wing and anti-union administration, which is refusing to negotiate a new and fair collective agreement. Read more on the dispute here.

To send message of support, or to donate to hardship fund to assist the more than 80 UNSW staff who have been stood down without pay by the administration in retaliation for taking legal industrial action, visit the National Tertiary Education Union UNSW webpage.

Letter of support from NTEU UNE branch

The UNE Branch of the NTEU sends its strong support to colleagues at UNSW in their struggle to undo the damage caused by the Howard Government’s HEWRRs. The experience of the UNE Branch, which is only now, after 2 years, bringing bargaining to a close, is that the majority of university managements have showed clearly the kind of industrial relations agenda they prefer. The act of bastardry by the UNSW management in standing down more than 70 employees only highlights this for all to see. There is nothing in the UNSW Branch’s current claim for better regulation of contracts that is unreasonable. Your claim is fair and just, and your colleagues around the country pay tribute to you for your selfless act of courage.

Tim Battin
NTEU Branch President
University of New England

Letter of support from the CFMEU

The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division extends its support to and solidarity with the NTEU and its members stood down in an attempt at corporate bullying and stand over tactics by management of the University of NSW, led as we understand by Vice Chancellor Hilmer.

While we in the coal mining industry are very used to and not surprised by the thuggish industrial behaviour of multinational corporations like Rio Tinto, Xstrata, BHP Billiton and others, we frankly would have expected somewhat better behaviour towards loyal staff by management of one of this country’s more highly regarded tertiary institutions.

Perhaps there is much truth after all in that much used saying in our industry: "All Bosses are Bastards — some are just bigger Bastards than others!"

Yours in solidarity

Andrew Vickers
General Secretary CFMEU Mining & Energy Division

Letter to UNSW vice-chancellor from law students

Dear Professor Hilmer,

We are current and former students of the UNSW Faculty of Law. We are totally opposed to the University Management’s decision to stand down Leon Trakman, Ed Santow, Sandra Egger, Prue Vines, Michael Grewcock, Kathy Bowrey, Mehera San Roque and Sean Brennan, as well as the large number of academic staff from other faculties.

We offer our unqualified support to the lecturers who are participating in legally protected industrial action. We understand their concerns about job security, rates of pay, paid parental leave and Indigenous employment targets.

We appreciate that their decision to withhold marks cannot have been taken lightly and we believe they have taken into consideration our interests and the quality of our legal education. We do not have the same faith in the decisions of the University Management.

We can personally attest to the fact that Kathy, Ed, Mike, Mehera, Sean, Prue, Leon and Sandra are among the most talented, hardworking and dedicated lecturers currently employed by the University.

They have convened our courses, written our textbooks, taught our classes and offered us invaluable academic and personal support. They engage in research that has significant real-world implications for the development of law and jurisprudence in Australia.

The opportunity to learn from lecturers of their calibre is why we chose to come to UNSW and why we choose to stay. They cannot be replaced.

The decision to stand them down in response to their participation in industrial action rather than take one of the other options available to the University under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is unwise and will cause significantly more disruption to students than the original bans.

The University of New South Wales has a reputation for being a progressive and socially responsible university. It is for this reason that UNSW is chosen by a large number of students over other high quality institutions. The decision to stand down some of UNSW’s finest academics in response to legitimate and legal industrial action is antithetical to this reputation and threatens to alienate the University’s student cohort.

Over 550 UNSW students from the Law Faculty alone have joined a group on the social networking website Facebook in support of the lecturers who have been stood down and the membership of this group is rising. Furthermore, the University’s action threatens to affect enrolment rates by deterring potential students.

The stand-downs have been reported in the mainstream media and word of them is spreading fast.

The implications of your decision to stand down Mehera, Sandra, Sean, Leon, Kathy, Ed, Mike and Prue could be enormous. To lose even one of these exceptional academics would mark a shameful turning point in the quality of education offered by UNSW and cause enduring damage to the reputation of the Law Faculty.

For the sake of the University and of us, its students, please do not let this happen.

We insist that you reconsider your position, immediately reinstate these lecturers and adopt a more reconciliatory approach to the current industrial action.

Yours sincerely,

Signed by more than 160 students of UNSW Law.

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