Strike, picket continues at Bankstown university

November 8, 2013
Students campaign against education cuts at UWS, Bankstown on October 8. Photo: Rachel Evans.

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and supporters picketed the Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) on October 30 during a half-day strike, as part of their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement at UWS.

This followed a similar strike and picket of the university's Parramatta campus on October 23.

Picketers distributed leaflets and spoke to vehicle drivers coming into the campus, and convinced many of them to turn around and leave. Students from the Bankstown campus were active in support, distributing their own leaflet urging fellow students to support the staff strike.

NTEU branch president Jan Falloon told Green Left Weekly: "Since the Parramatta action last week, university management has agreed to further meetings on bargaining. This is a positive sign that we may now be finally entering a proper bargaining period, after months of stalling.

"Nevertheless, this has been an arduous and expensive process, as management is using a private law firm rather than direct negotiation. The union has applied under Freedom of Information for details of the cost of this arrangement, but this information is being held up in the courts.

"For us, there are four main issues right now: Increasing academic workload; flex leave for professional staff; insecure employment — UWS has one of the highest rates of casual employment among Australian universities, and the overall rate of casual employment in our tertiary education sector is frightening, with people on casual sessional employment for years, with no proper training; and, finally, the issue of adequate professional development."

At the end of the picket, Falloon told the assembled staff and students: "Well done everyone. Students are supporting our campaign, because they realise this fight is not only about quality of staff conditions but quality of education.

"In addition, our message seems to finally be getting through to university management. They have agreed to more bargaining days, which means we can finally discuss the real issues with them.

"Let's keep up the campaign as long as we need to."

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