UniMelb staff begin industrial action

The decision to take this action follows a unanimous vote by members of the UniMelb NTEU Branch.

Staff at the University of Melbourne (UniMelb) began industrial action on Friday after University management failed to meet key demands of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in ongoing enterprise bargaining.

Staff will begin an indefinite ban on applying penalties for late submission of student work and “commence making statements while working explaining why members of the union are taking industrial action” as part of the industrial action.

The decision to take this action followed a unanimous vote by attendees of a members meeting of the UniMelb NTEU Branch earlier in the week.

The Union is taking this action to further its demand to increase the amount of secure jobs at the University. While the NTEU is seeking that 80% of all jobs at the University should be ongoing, Branch President David Gonzalez told staff that the University has done nothing to address this demand.

Casual staff at the University have previously had $45 million of their wages stolen by the University. Casualisation at Australian universities is detrimental to staff’s wellbeing and the quality of education provided to students; it has led to systemic wage theft in the sector.

The NTEU is also seeking a pay rise of 15% or CPI +1.5%, a demand which the University has not met. Gonzalez told Union members that the NTEU’s claim is “the only plan that will help many of our workmates make ends meet amid high inflation.” The University’s current offer would represent a real wage cut, with inflation still at 7.8%.

Enterprise bargaining between the NTEU and University management has been ongoing for eight months.

In a statement to Honi, Gonzalez said “Workers at the University of Melbourne have taken the hit for too long and our members are really sensing that now is our time to win real gains at the bargaining table including ensuring that no less than 80% of positions are ongoing, that workloads are manageable and sustainable and that our pay outpaces inflation.

“Our struggle for a fair agreement with management at the University of Melbourne is important to all universities in Australia including the University of Sydney, because we need better wages, better job security and more jobs, something only unions can consistently deliver, and as the wealthiest universities in the country, they can more than afford it.

“If we want better universities in Australia, we simply must invest in the people who work in them.”

The University of Melbourne did not respond to Honi’s request for comment.

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This article has been ammended to reflect that the University of Melbourne is not offering a four per cent pay rise. That figure instead represents the pay rise already paid to staff.