BREAKING: USyd staff ramp up negotiations with second 48-hour strike this year

NTEU members voted in favour of a 48-hour strike in Week 10 after University management failed to meet core union demands on preserving research time, secure employment for casuals, and a real pay rise.

Photography by Thomas Sargeant.

Staff at the University of Sydney have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 48-hour strike towards the end of the semester, which makes it the second 48-hour strike this year.

This follows multiple unsuccessful bargaining rounds with University management, which have yet to concede on key union demands, including job security for professional and academic staff, preserving the 40:40:20 teaching-research-administration model, conversion of casual positions to permanent positions, and a pay rise above inflation.

The strikes will be held in Week 10 over Thursday and Friday, 13 to 14 October.

“Our members recognise that Mark Scott and Annamarie Jagose are intent on defeating the NTEU and seriously winding back staff rights,” said USyd NTEU Branch President Nick Riemer.

“They’re attacking academics’ right to research time, casuals’ right to secure employment, and professional and academic staff rights to job security, and they haven’t even started to talk to us about pay,” Riemer said.

“It’s very simple: we’re not going to let any of these attacks happen,” he said.

“We don’t want to have to disrupt the university’s operations, but unless we start getting some respect from our billion-dollar VC, we’ll have no choice.”

Although previous industrial action has led to marginal wins for the union, including a one-off gender affirmation leave and a 2.1 per cent pay rise, Riemer said the escalation was necessary to “get the movement we need” from University management.

This follows a year of highly charged and visible campaigning from the NTEU, characterised by multiple days of successful strikes including picket lines, a significant rise in union membership and participation, and an explosion of staff-student solidarity.

“It is very exciting that staff have voted to continue their industrial campaign and fight against the corporate university,” said SRC Education Officer Lia Perkins.

“Students fully support a 48-hour strike because management [has] not budged on very important questions, and their number of proposed new jobs is too low,” Perkins said.

“Staff working conditions are student learning conditions and the SRC and EAG will be organising student contingents to the strikes,” she said.

The union is also considering other negotiation tactics in conjunction with strikes, including work stoppages, work bans and flat marking, which would see all student assessments marked with the same grade.

This marks the fourth round of strikes from the NTEU this year.

*Note: This article was updated to clarify that the October strikes are the fourth round of strikes this year.