Deakin University staff reject non-union ballot, vote to strike

“This vote is a call for university managements and our government to think seriously about our sector.”

Members of the Deakin University Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have voted to strike next week, as staff at the University rejected a “non-union ballot” put forward by management. 

The non-union ballot, in which management put their proposed enterprise agreement to be approved by all eligible staff without the consent of the NTEU, was defeated with 62% of staff voting against it.

Offering staff a pay rise of just 2.85% salary increase per year, without meaningful protections for staff conditions, Deakin management’s offer failed to meet numerous Union demands, including Indigenous employment parity, reduced workloads and a right for staff to work from home. 

The NTEU is demanding a 15% salary increase over the life of the next enterprise agreement or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) +1.5%, whichever is higher, to reduce severe cost-of-living pressures on staff.

Piper Rodd, President of the NTEU’s Deakin Branch, told Honi that “This is good news for all Deakin workers and our students. We look forward to getting back to the bargaining table so we can negotiate better workloads, improved conditions and a good pay offer for Deakin staff. 

In the wake of the vote, Deakin NTEU members “passed a motion supporting a ban on all teaching activities next week if management does not commit to returning to genuine bargaining in coming weeks in good faith,” Rodd told Honi.

“Universities across the country right now are broken. Students are drowning in debt and academics and professional staff are struggling with unsustainable workloads and cost of living pressures. 

“This vote is a call for university management’s and our government to think seriously about our sector.”

The developments come during the NTEU’s National Week of Action in which universities across Australia, including Federation University, Monash University and the University of Melbourne, are taking industrial action to fight for better pay and conditions for staff. 

Members of Deakin NTEU took strike action in late April, seven months into ongoing enterprise negotiations between the NTEU and Deakin University.