The University of Sydney has advised staff to work online on the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) strike days on 13 and 14 October as an escalation of strikebreaking tactics used in earlier strikes.
In recent staff communication, the University “recommends that staff who can work from home do so, including switching to remote teaching.”
Additionally, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Educational Innovation, Adam Bridgeman sent staff a guide on securing Zoom classes in advance of Thursday and Friday’s strike.
The strike campaign has contended with the use of Zoom classes to avoid the effects of physical picket lines in the previous three strikes. Acting as a digital roaming picket, contingents of students interrupted Zoom classes to counteract this tactic from the University.
In advance of this strike, the campaign has asked students to notify the NTEU of classes that are going ahead, and is contacting their teachers to ask them to cancel the classes.
Both staff and student organisers within the campaign expressed the damage effected by online strikebreaking.
Riemer wrote to potential strikebreakers to describe Zoom classes as “undermining” the NTEU’s efforts. He also tweeted that the University’s efforts to thwart strikes reflect the strength of the enterprise bargaining campaign in shutting down campus.
Riemer told Honi: “If people are determined to side with management against their colleagues, they should at least have the honesty to confront a physical picket and explain why they’re undermining the very campaign that they’ll benefit from when the new agreement is finally signed.”
Incoming SRC President and current Education Officer Lia Perkins spoke strongly against online strikebreaking in an SRC meeting last week.
“Another reminder to everyone… Zoom classes are breaking the strike. The NTEU have said that they really want this strike action to be very big and successful, so we really don’t want Zoom classes to undermine this effort,” Perkins said to the Council.
She told Honi: “Holding zoom classes and putting on zoom classes undermines the ability of staff to achieve positive gains for all staff and students at the university. We are encouraging students not to go to their online classes to make the disruption as large and successful as possible.”
This development comes after a student who participated in online strike action was threatened with disciplinary action by the University last month. Following a petition from students and a motion condemning the action from the NTEU, the student received only a warning.