Its week 12 and that means we’re one week closer to stuvac, exams and the end of Semester One ! I wanted to use this week’s report to update you all on an issue that has been pottering on for the entirety of this semester, and that is the Enterprise Bargaining that is taking place between the University and its staff.
Enterprise Bargaining takes place between employers and employees who are collectively organised and represented by their union. Enterprise Bargaining Agreements set out the basic terms and conditions for all employees. They include things like pay rates, bonuses and leave entitlements.
The main union that represents staff at Sydney Uni is the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). The NTEU has three key asks in this round of Enterprise Bargaining. They want to see secure work that abolishes forced redundancies and improves rights for casual workers. They want increased staff participation in university decision-making and they want fair pay, leave and superannuation for all workers.
Sounds super simple right? Think again. The university has refused to come to the table on many of these key claims and is instead proposing changes that will strip away some of the basic rights of our staff.
You might be thinking, why does this matter? Why should students care about staff conditions? The reality is that staff working conditions are OUR learning conditions. When the rights of staff are eroded we see changes like bigger class sizes and less face to face teaching time. If our teachers are stressed or overworked due to poor conditions the quality of our education will be impacted. This is why it’s important that, as students, we show our solidarity and fight for the rights of the staff at this university.
We’re going to be hearing a lot more about the Enterprise Bargaining in the upcoming months. The SRC encourages all students to support the NTEU in their fight for fair working conditions and pay. Have your voice heard and let your lecturers, tutors and professors know that you support them.
Education Officers’ Report
April Holcombe and Jenna Schroder
The National Day of Protest on May 17 against the Liberals’ proposed fee hikes was a tremendous success. Thousands of students took to the streets around the country, including disrupting a fancy lunch for Malcom Turnbull in Brisbane. It was a large, public, defiant blow to the Liberals who are on shaky ground and whose cuts to universities are opposed by a majority of the population.
More than 300 rallied on Usyd campus and marched to UTS with rebellious energy – in fact, we had the single largest campus turnout in the country. Activists and the Education officers did a huge amount of work leafleting, postering, lecture bashing and talking to students about the massive cuts, how they affect us, and why protests can stop it. Several smaller stunts in the lead up took excellent advantage of the transient media interest in students, with coverage on multiple occasions by ABC, SBS, Nine, Ten, Seven, SKY, 2GB, AAP, the Australian, Buzzfeed, and Junkee.
Since these attacks have not gone away and we have a lot more beyond that to fight for, the National Union of Students is preparing for a follow up protest on August 16, and we will need to see the same organising effort as this time.
But also on the Education Departments agenda is the crucial task of supporting staff against management’s attack at a local level. The NTEU is quickly moving towards industrial action in the face of proposals by the bosses for forced redundancies, de facto individual contracts for academic staff, and further erosion of rights for casuals. NTEU members are ready to strike if management do not back down on all attacks and if they do not accept all the union’s demands. This level of determination from workers is truly excellent and must be matched by students in solidarity. Come to EAG meetings on Thursdays at 1pm to discuss this campaign and more.
Written by April Holcombe.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn
On Friday Women’s Collective attended the Sorry Day Rally. Sorry Day marks the day Kevin Rudd ‘apologised’ to the Stolen Generation. However, since then child removal rates of Aboriginal children have increased, and are now at the highest rate ever. Indigenous children are taken at a rate ten times that of non-indigenous children. It’s important for WoCo to fight alongside Aboriginal activists against a racist system that removes children. Whilst WoCo has also been fighting for reproductive justice in the fight for legal access to abortion (abortion is still in the crimes act), it’s also important to not ignore the unique issues facing first nations women.
On Tuesday WoCo pulled a stunt on the fence of Parliament house. We hung coat hangers attached to the faces of the 25 elected representatives who kept abortion in the Crimes Act. The action was to ‘name and shame’ those who had the opportunity to save lives by making abortion legal, and thus doctors more able to perform the operation. We remain in 1900 when the Crimes Act adopted an even older British law rooted in misogyny that women are to be breeders and have no control over their bodies.
Finally, we’re fighting for the implementation of a nation-wide 1800 counselling line for those affected by sexual violence in the university community. In August this year, the AHRC report into university sexaul harassment and assault will be released. We expect that the report, and its associated media coverage, will kick up a lot of dormant trauma within the survivor community and result in increased disclosures and strain on existing university counselling services. As it stands, Sydney University’s CAPS (counselling and psychological services) is not equipped to handle sexual assault trauma. As officers, we’ve received so many horror stories about the mishandling of cases, that we make a point of never referring a survivor to the service. CAPS also has wait times and is only available to currently enrolled students and, therefore, survivors are often unable to receive a timely appointment and survivors who have dropped out following sexual assault are unable to access support. Cumulatively, survivors at USyd are currently unable to access timely and appropriate trauma informed counselling. We need a 1800 hotline that’s staffed by trauma informed counsellors. Students and survivors are worth it. To join the fight, sign the petition here: http://www.fairagenda.org/uni_counselling
Indigenous Officer’s Report
Last report, I stated that the Koori Centre is trying to obtain a new printer for Indigenous students. I raised this issue at the Indigenous Strategy and Services Committee meeting around a month ago and was met with mostly positive reactions. I am continuing to speak with members of the Indigenous aid team, Mura Yura Student Support Services in relation to this issue.
I am currently considering our budget to the SRC General-Secretaries, and if there are any ideas you have that will advance community within the Collective that will need funding, please get in contact. I am currently re-instating ‘Koori Lunches’ as part of our SRC budget for one.
RECONCILIATION WEEK is THIS WEEK, 29 MAY – 3 JUNE. It’s great to see the university celebrating the need for Reconciliation and hosting a number of events, which can be found at whatson.sydney.edu.au/events/published/reconciliation-week-2017 (link includes bookings forms).
– Hands of Reconciliation interactive artwork, 10am – 4pm daily at the University lawns, Camperdown campus.
– 1967 Referendum – Implications for health then, now and in the future, Indigenous health discussion panel, Tuesday 30 May, 9am – 1pm (bookings essential).
– Jane Gleeson-White on ‘The Swan Book’ by Alexis Wright, literature discussion in land and country, Tuesday 30 May, 6:30 – 7:30pm (bookings essential).
– ‘Arts and Aboriginal Australia: decolonisation or reconciliation?’, discussion on ATSI museum collections, Wednesday 31 May, 6 – 7:30pm (bookings essential).
As always, any issues, contact me at email@example.com.
International Students’ Officers’ Report
Zhixian Wang, Helena Ng Wai Ting, Yifan Kong and Wenxin Fang
This month has been a fruitful one for international student collective. The very first constitution of the collective has been finalised, and was implemented in the first election of the collective. Consequently, about 10 students were elected in the first election to work on several major issues outlined in the annual action plan.
After the massive sign-ups collected during Oweek, the awareness for the collective has been raised like never before. The collective has been recognized as a community for international students, therefore, more and more students are getting involved in the collective this semester.
At the beginning of the semester, four office bearers had a meeting and discussed the outline the details of our first constitution. The constitution is divided into several parts, important ones are electoral regulation and position descriptions.
Our first collective election took place on 4th April in Carslaw 173, the election was the first meeting which followed the new constitution. There were about 30 people signed up for the election and about 15 people went. 4 officer bearers were assigned to different duties: secretaries, grievance officer and treasurer. There are 4 departments divided by duties: event, marketing and special programs. There were 10 positions taken at the first election meeting.
Due to high demand, another round of interviews was held later on in SRC office. 5 students showed up in the second meeting after the election, we discussed some critical issues on special programs, precisely, we discuss the Honi Soit special edition with the president and after this conversation, more details on the concession opal card petition has also been discussed in the office.
This week, we are going to focus on the spending within the collective and make some decisions and plans regarding to the budget. We are currently planning an event for the collective to attend Jew revue, this will be our first social event of the collective.
Join our Facebook group ‘USYD International Students Collective’ and like our Facebook page ‘USyd International Students Collective’.
Refugee Rights Officers’ Report
Kelton Muir de Moore, Jess Whittall and Caitlin McMenamin
It’s been a successful semester for the Campus Refugee Action Collective as more Sydney Uni students than ever in recent history have become active in the refugee campaign, fighting to end the injustice of offshore detention of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. There was a record contingent to the national Palm Sunday rally with over 80 students arriving an hour before the rally to assemble en masse and march together as a block and join the rally of thousands. Students energy at the rally led from the front with passionate chanting reflecting the politics of the day, decrying Trumps bombing of Syria and our governments continued involvement in the wars of the Middle East and consequential refugees. The collective has published another bulletin this semester updating on and analysing refugee politics over the past 6 months, smashing the narratives that both major parties push in an attempt to gain votes and racially scapegoat from their unpopular neoliberal policies. Over 60 students attended the first of 5 meetings this semester on an intro of how to be an activist, and dozens more have joined the collective since in activity protesting to #SaveSaeed blockading Villawood and the Immigration department and #SackDutton. We’re looking to have more students join us next semester and will be setting up regular meetings (every 2 weeks) and some social events to build an even more organised, educated and active collective. We organise to fight for refugee rights and against the racism that originates through our government and media’s scapegoating of refugees for the ills of Australian imperialism and neoliberalism.
Note: The Refugee Rights Officers were not due to submit a report this week but have done so as they missed submitting in past weeks.