Uni workers strike against job cuts

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Melbourne protested outside the vice-chancellor's office at lunchtime on August 11 as part of a half-day strike.

The strike was in response to the university's latest attempt to cut jobs. Management wants to axe 220 full-time positions. It claimed the job cuts were needed because of losses the university sustained due to the financial crisis.

Staff received an email from the vice-chancellor, Glyn Davis, on July 28 that confirmed the planned job cuts.

Victorian secretary of the NTEU Matt McGowan and the academic vice president of the NTEU branch committee Graham Willett addressed the rally.

Willett said the university had spent $8 million to hire outside consultants, even though the 5000 university staff were more qualified and interested in the running of the university.

He said in the School of Historical Studies where he worked, a consultant hired to review the school incorrectly calculated the size of the school's budget deficit, overestimating it by some $1 million.

McGowan said he feared management's job cutting process would continue over the next two years. He said management also plans to decentralise decisions on budgets and staffing to individual faculties in a bid to cut more costs.

Before the rally, a mass meeting of 300 people met to discuss how to respond to the attacks. The union plans to hold a central protest action and launch a petition at university's Open Day on August 16.

Some staff members said they supported stronger action than the union's plan.

University management agreed to meet union representatives on August 12. Meanwhile, the NTEU called another half-day strike on September 3.