Hundreds of National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Monash University protested outside a meeting of the university’s Executive Council on September 6 in support of their enterprise agreement.
These meetings normally happen at a salubrious location in Collins Street, in the CBD. But it was changed to the Clayton Campus, at the last minute, presumably to reduce the visibility of the NTEU’s action.
Members were not deterred, gathering in force.
The action was part of ongoing protests by many branches of the Victorian Division of the NTEU.
A petition for real pay rises, more secure jobs and fairer workloads — our bargaining demands — has been supported by more than 700 people. It was submitted to the university council and added to the agenda.
NTEU members blocked the entrance to the private Chancellery car park and spoke about their working conditions and experiences with 16-week contracts. We stuck all 19 A3 petition pages to the Chancellery building.
Damien Cahill, NTEU National General Secretary, told the rally that the union’s demands “are not unreasonable” and yet bargaining has gone on for nearly a year.
The agreement expired in June last year and the union is no closer to an agreement that provides safe and secure working conditions, or wages that keep up with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.
Seeing university executive council members arrive in their new Audi/Volvo/BMW cars, and learning of them also being non-executive directors of various banks, Shell, Rio Tinto and the Melbourne Racing Club, underscored how out of touch they are with our workplace and student learning conditions.
The mood among union members was optimistic, knowing that NTEU branches around the country have secured new agreements with decent pay rises and other entitlements.
[Brenna Dempsey is a member of the Monash University Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.]