Staff at the University of Sydney voted this afternoon to take strike action within a month in Week 11 and 13.
The strike will last for 48 hours on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 May, and a second 24-hour strike will be held on Tuesday 24 May. It represents a significant step forward in the National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) campaign to reach a new Enterprise Agreement with management at USyd.
The meeting, attended by more than 300 NTEU members, voted on four motions.
The first and fourth motions passed near-unanimously. They called for a strike on Wednesday 11 May as the first step in the industrial campaign, and planning for an escalating strike campaign throughout 2022 in pursuit of “secure, quality jobs in an efficient and respectful university.”
The second motion, which extended the 11 May strike into a 48-hour strike, passed 221-71. The third, which called for a potential further strike on 24 May, passed 278-3.
Staff members spoke to support a militant industrial campaign to win the union’s key demands of a pay rise and an end to forced redundancies and exploitative casualisation. Speakers highlighted the need for industrial action in the face of intransigence from management.
The meeting debated the merits of having a 24-hour instead of 48-hour strike, with the latter option being carried by a large majority.
Week 13’s strike will take place a few days before the beginning of National Reconciliation Week, drawing attention to the failure of the university to set an enforceable 3% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment target.
When contacted for comment, NTEU Branch Committee member Alma Torlakovic said: “The resounding vote for strike action as the key element of our campaign is confirmation that union members know what they want and how to get it. Our sector has been through two years of turmoil, and this is our chance to win back some of what we’ve lost. On pay, on job security, on casual claims, and on our vision for a better society.
“I’m particularly proud of the follow up strike set to happen in Week 13. Unions have something to say about social issues, not just economic ones,” Torlakovic said.
“Union members will be attacked for disrupting teaching, but the reality is we’re the only ones fighting to improve student learning conditions on campus.”
Student Representative Council (SRC) Education Officer Deaglan Godwin told Honi “This is an enormously positive step for the fight by both staff and students against the corporate university. I wholeheartedly support strikes by any workers, and it’s fantastic to see university workers join nurses, teachers and rail and bus workers striking to win better pay and conditions.
“Striking is the way to win. All students should support the strike, including standing shoulder to shoulder with staff on the picket lines in Week 11 and 13,” Godwin said.
Fellow Education Officer Lia Perkins said: “Students will fully support the enormous amount of staff who voted to take industrial action against management at USyd. The quality of our education will improve by ending insecure work and exploitative casual contracts at USyd.
“The most powerful way to fight the corporate university is through a staff strike, especially a sustained, 48-hour strike, which can only be successful with student support.”
Perkins added an appeal to students: “Come and get involved in building student support, flyering and postering on campus and talking to your classmates.”
The Education Action Group has organised a campaign “Students Support Staff Strikes”: https://www.facebook.com/Students-Support-Staff-Strikes-110453134968325
Sign the petition to pledge support for staff strikes: https://forms.gle/Faf9FbhpjAYRuML77
Sign up to the EAG here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/316966526475582