Student Centre cuts casual staff, advertises similar roles online

The Student Centre administration assistants have been informed that their contracts will not be extended beyond March 31st as the Centre advertises 50 new positions on their jobs portal.

Administration assistants at the University of Sydney’s Student Centre have been told that their contracts will not be extended beyond March 31st, despite the University advertising 50 new Student Centre positions on their jobs portal.

The staff cuts will affect 50 casual administrative staff, including students. Rather than converting existing staff to full-time or extending existing contracts, these 50 workers will be forced to reapply to these new positions. They will compete with external applicants for the new positions. 

The University is offering 20 new 12-month fixed term full-time positions and 30 casual positions. They claim that current staff do not meet the requirements for conversion to full time staff under the Fair Work Act. 

Additionally, layers of support have been restructured. HEO5 seniors have ‘virtually been abolished’ according to NTEU representatives. These positions would deal with complex, distressing or hostile enquiries, however now these tasks have been delegated to lower level workers.

Student workers at the Centre are expected to attend the university in their full capacity as students. This means that, unlike non-student workers, they are able to be offered one hour shifts.

An NTEU fact sheet about the Student Centre cuts reported that in the Student Centre, “excessive monitoring, performance reviews and intimidation are par for the course.”

Students Representative Council President Lia Perkins said “The University should never cut experienced, professional staff and should instead focus on training them to provide effective, quality advice as the NTEU members in the student centre have demanded. This is a direct cut on the quality of services students are provided.”

USyd NTEU Branch President Nick Riemer said, “those casuals in those jobs should be converted immediately into ongoing employment, and only then, if there are any leftovers, should they be outsourced.”

Riemer encouraged staff and students at the NTEU’s strike on Thursday to call the Student Centre and lodge a ticket with a message of solidarity for the workers, who had to work during the strikes.

The University of Sydney said in a statement, “Our Student Centre’s workload is necessarily seasonal due to the needs of our students […] As classes start, the number of student enquiries reduces, and our casual staff contracts come to an end.”

Editors note: a previous version of this article reported that most workers at the Student Centre were students, and that HEO4 workers had been relocated to faculty services. This was an error of fact and has since been removed from print and online articles.