USyd branch members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have voted to take a 24-hour strike action in Week 3, as negotiations with the University enter its thirteenth month.
More than 93 per cent of some 350 attending members supported a motion acknowledging the University’s failure to address many of its staff’s key concerns, including real pay raises beyond inflation and the ending of forced redundancies and casualisation.
The upcoming strike, planned for Wednesday 17 August, will be the third set of strikes held during this year’s renegotiation of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) between unionists and University management.
USyd Branch President Nick Reimer acknowledged there were likely to be multiple days of strikes ahead and led discussions on the most strategic way the Union ought to engage with management, noting that marking bans had been ruled illegal by the Fair Work Commission and other forms of action varied in terms of their implications on income and campus reach.
“Members voted to strike on August 17 and then on Open Day because we know how hostile the VC and Provost are, and we’re ready for a protracted and escalating campaign of industrial disruption until we get the results we so badly need,” Reimer said.
“We’re in this for the long haul. Management clearly wants to wear us down.”
Members favoured a 24 hour strike as opposed to a 48 hour strike, and endorsed taking additional action on 27 August during Open Day in the likely event that management does not agree to the NTEU’s log of demands.
In the wake of last semester’s industrial action, the University has acknowledged in negotiations staff concerns around job security stemming from their systemic reliance on long-term casuals.
The University recently acknowledged that there are 350 full-time equivalent positions currently filled by PhD-qualified casuals, who together perform the teaching equivalent of 880 teaching and research staff.
The Union’s Bargaining Team also reported to the meeting of NTEU members that the pay increases offered so far by management were all below rates of inflation, and staff were essentially being asked to agree to an effective pay cut. These negotiations are happening in the context of the University recording a surplus of $1.04 billion in 2021.
NTEU members will be leafleting on Redfern Run in the lead-up to encourage student solidarity with staff and the strikes.