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NTEU set to vote on USyd Open Day strike and picket

The vote will occur next Tuesday at the NTEU USyd branch meeting.

NTEU USyd Branch President Nick Riemer has announced an upcoming vote to strike and picket on USyd’s Open Day, 27 August, if the University continues to fail to meet staff demands. 

The motion comes in a series set to be voted on at Tuesday’s NTEU meeting, as negotiations for USyd’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) enters its thirteenth month after twenty unsuccessful bargaining meetings with University management. 

The new strike motions proposed for Semester 2 follow three strike and  picket days in Semester 1. The strikes concern the University’s failure to move on the union’s 2021-2022 EBA log of claims first endorsed by over 400 NTEU members in July last year

The Union’s demands include: maintaining the 40-40-20 (research-teaching-administration) working model, an end to forced redundancies, an enforceable 3 per cent target for First Nations employment by 2024, 30 days of paid annual gender transition leave, recognition of disabled staff’s lived experience and a pay increase above inflation — among others. 

In a post sent to all academic staff at the University, Riemer stated: “It’s regrettable that this [further industrial action] has become necessary. The NTEU is committed to concluding Enterprise Agreement negotiations… as swiftly as possible.” 

The first strike motion calls for a strike and picket on University grounds on 17 August. The motion notes that despite recording a $1.04 billion surplus in 2021 and Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott bringing in a salary of close to $1 million, academic staff continue to be plagued with “job-insecurity, overwork, permanent organisational change, mismanagement, and threats to academic autonomy”. 

Further, the motion notes that the 2.1 per cent administrative pay increase is “an effective pay cut of 4 per cent” and “a massive loss in salary in real terms” due to inflation. In passing motion one, the branch will also be noting that although “management have started moving in the right direction on some issues” since the three strike days in Semester 1, the University has failed to move on the union’s “most important priorities”. 

Motions two and three will determine the length of the strike as either 24 or 48 hours in duration. 

Notably, the fourth motion calls for a strike and picket on Saturday 27 August — the University’s Open Day for prospective students. Accordingly, this strike will only occur if University management continues to refuse the NTEU’s demands after the proposed strike on 17 August. 

As one of the USyd’s busiest days on the Camperdown campus and the first of its kind since 2019, the threat of a strike and picket may tempt the University to finally conclude EBA negotiations. 

If no agreement is reached between the union and the University, the fourth motion commits the branch to further industrial action later in Semester 2.