Over a hundred Sydney University students have voted to participate in a student strike on Wednesday 16 September.
The strike is endorsed by both the NTEU and the USyd Casuals Network.
In an assembly held via Zoom, students voted to leave class and join the USyd NTEU branch’s protest at 1pm.
In addition to support for the strike, the motion passed at tonight’s meeting included the following demands: no job cuts, the right to protest safely without police repression, and no penalty for students or staff who miss class or work to attend the protest, or other similar actions.
The motion also explicitly expresses support for the National Higher Education Action Network’s call for a day of action in October, and “democratically planned unprotected industrial action in response to the upcoming federal budget.”
Tonight’s vote to strike follows the recent police crackdown on campus protests and signals a deliberate shift in tactics, with the aim of making this a decentralised, covid-safe and legal action.
On 28 August, the National Day of Action was shut down by an overwhelming police presence, with ten student and staff members fined $1000 each for gathering in a group larger than twenty “for a common purpose.” Similarly, on 31 July the police shut down a small education protest, fining two protesters.
The strike comes as the University has announced a range of austerity measures in response to covid-related revenue losses, including a “voluntary redundancies” program, and proposed staff cuts of up to 30% in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
It was also recently revealed that the University has underpaid staff, most of whom are casuals, by almost $9 million.
Additionally, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) Pip Pattison’s proposal to consider a permanent shift to a 12-week semester has also been criticised as a cost saving measure, which will worsen staff working conditions and students’ learning outcomes.
SRC Education Officer Jazz Breen told Honi, that cost cutting measures shouldn’t undermine the very basis of what a university is, an education institution. Cutting staff and courses should never be an option.”
“In voting up the motion tonight students and staff alike are refusing to take attacks to their teaching and learning conditions lying down, and will continue to fight until universities serve education, not corporate interests.”