Both the University of Sydney Union (USU) and the USyd SRC have voted to shut down in solidarity with NTEU strikes being held on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 May.
The NTEU voted earlier this month to strike for 48 hours as part of the enterprise bargaining process with the University. The strike demands a series of improvements to pay and working conditions, taking particular aim at casualisation and protecting staff’s paid research time.
The USU passed two motions in their meeting this afternoon regarding the strikes. The first expressed support for the staff strikes, while the second endorsed the USU closing its outlets for the duration of the strikes.
In the meeting, USU President Prudence Wilkins-Wheat argued that the USU should be conscious of the importance of staff working rights for students’ experience at university. “We are students, and we are a student union. We have to care about our staff,” Wilkins-Wheat told the meeting. “Student life begins in the classroom.”
The motion received the unanimous support of the Board.
The SRC has also passed a motion supporting the strikes and will shut down in solidarity. Additionally, the SRC is calling on its members to attend the picket line.
SRC President Lauren Lancaster told Honi: “The SRC practises solidarity with staff not only in the motions we pass on Council and in our organising efforts but also in the way that our organisation runs. That’s why it is necessary to close the SRC in solidarity with the NTEU. We will all be on the picket lines and we encourage all students to join us there, because as we all know, their working conditions are our learning conditions. This industrial action is long overdue and much needed.”
The USU’s willingness to shut down is an improvement from the last set of strikes in 2017, when the Board voted against shutting down in support of staff. The 2017 USU President Courtney Thompson explained the move with reference to the potential financial loss the shutdown could cause, while progressive Board alumni condemned the decision as undermining the strikes.
“Useless scab union”, tweeted former Board Director Tom Raue at the time.