A stop work meeting by more than 250 National Tertiary Education Union members at RMIT was joined by students and supporters on August 31.
The action was part of the NTEU Victorian Division’s strike week, which began August 28, and was timed in conjunction with industrial actions at other university campuses across Naarm/Melbourne.
Union members are campaigning for a new enterprise agreement with real pay rises, more secure jobs and fair workloads, according to rank-and-file NTEU RMIT-branch members.
Liam Ward told the RMIT action that the NTEU wants an agreements that are equitable for all staff. Currently, there are three enterprise agreements for RMIT’s three different organisational entities (higher education, vocational education and RMIT Training) which allows it to argue that they are “different workplaces”, opening the door for different enterprise agreements.
He said there gross inequity between workers is a consequence of this. “Two people doing the same work will receive different pay rates, and different super … they might even be working in the same room.”
It has been more than 700 days since the Higher Education enterprise agreement expired, 500 days since Vocation Education enterprise agreement expired and 1300 days since RMIT Training enterprise agreement expired.
A statement by a RMIT NTEU delegate was read out: [Vocational Education] staff are in despair about the lack of quality, competence, integrity and vision of RMIT management … every teacher I know is overloaded … the workload is grinding me down.”
The delegate described the unjust demands on workers including that, in addition to teaching, staff are expected to attend “workshops, teaching industry events, internships, industry partners” while also managing “work [left] from previous employees, emails from students and non-stop requests to do more”.
They also disclosed that the condition of work spaces was unsanitary and under-resourced.
Tom Short, a sessional employee, described how teachers’ devotion towards to their students is being cruelly manipulated to intensify their exploitation.
“Teaching is more than what happens in the classroom … it is also about the unpaid extra-work …[RMIT management] knows that we do it because we care and take advantage of that.”
Kevin Moore, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative for the NTEU RMIT branch committee, expressed his frustration about RMIT’s failure to set employment targets. “I’ve been here since 2010 and [RMIT] has never met the target for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment.”
The stop work passed a motion to undertake escalating industrial action. Branch President Tricia McLaughlin announced that a 24-hour stop work is planned for September 13.
The NTEU will continue to take industrial action with a half-day strike planned for September 6 and a rally outside of the University Council meeting at 30 Collins Street, CBD, from 12pm-1pm.
[Support the NTEU petition to the federal Labour government urging permanent employment, capping executive salaries and ensuring workplaces are safe.]