UTS academic union strikes for better agreement

October 19, 2022
NTEU at the University of Technology on October 19. Photo: Rachel Evans

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) struck for improved pay and better job security for a half day on October 19.

Union members handed out leaflets to staff and students entering the main tower block of UTS, explaining the issues which include safe workloads, a fair pay rise and permanent First Nations jobs.

“Over the past two years, hundreds of UTS staff have been made redundant. NTEU members consider that the quality of education and research has suffered badly, and that workloads are overwhelming,” the NTEU said.

“Further, inflation has led to a cut in real wages, and far too many staff are on casual or fixed-term contracts with no job security.”

The NTEU at UTS is campaigning for a new enterprise bargaining agreement that will make their workplace a more equitable place to work and “restore quality public education”.

The union reported that UTS had an operating surplus of $122 million last financial year. “Management can afford a fair pay rise and decent working conditions for staff,” it said.

Sarah Attfield, NTEU UTS branch president, told a rally: “We have made some progress on limiting casual work and fixed-term contracts. But we need real job security.

“Casual academics do so much unpaid teaching and research. We’re here because we care about education and the welfare of students, as well as our staff,” Attfield said.

NTEU activist Matilda Fay said: “Poor working conditions mean poor education. The two key issues are: job security and low pay.” With annual inflation heading towards 7% teachers face a real wage cut with the latest  management pay offer a measly 1.75%.

“We need to keep the pressure on for better pay and conditions,” she said. “We need to keep on taking industrial action. And we want to thank the students and members of other unions who have shown solidarity with us.”

Mark Morey, Unions NSW secretary, asked the rally: “Since when did higher education become part of the gig economy? Unions in this state will support your fight for pay and conditions all the way.”

Nat Wasley, representing the Maritime Union of Australia, said: “UTS management need to respect your struggle under COVID-19 to keep the university running. Wages must keep in line with inflation — all industrial agreements should fight for this.”

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