BREAKING: USyd staff vote for series of Semester One strikes

The Union is also looking into other forms of industrial action.

Photography by Ishbel Dunsmore.

The University of Sydney Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) voted today to hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday during Week 3. This strike will be followed by a 48-hour strike in Week 6 and a 72-hour strike in Week 10, if Union demands are not met by University management. 

The motion to strike passed overwhelmingly in one of the biggest meetings of the campaign with 445 staff members in attendance.

In order to not hold strikes after Week 3, the Union demanded that: the University withdraw the attack on 40:40:20, offer a pay rise that is respectful to staff, improve rights for casual staff, cap education focussed staff at 20% of the workforce, decasualise the workforce by 20% with at least 15% long-term casuals, and return to [its] original position on Indigenous Employment (“population parity by roughly 2026”).

USyd NTEU Branch President Nick Riemer stated, “we’d really hoped that after 19 months of negotiations we’d be able to come to this meeting with the news that we were on the path to settlement. But since December management has doubled down on a series of what we can only describe as highly hostile positions.”

“We’re quite constrained in the kinds of [industrial action] that we can take. Until we can reballot, strikes are what we have,” Riemer stated, adding “it’s clear that we need to escalate our campaign.

“We don’t want to strike or take other industrial action any more than we absolutely have to.

“But, our jobs, our salary, our rights at work and the nature of our institution are under attack from managers who never fail to show their disrespect for us. If we don’t fight back, those attacks will be locked in as the new normal to the detriment of every single person here.”

In a statement to Honi, a University of Sydney spokesperson said that, “While disappointed, we fully support the right of our staff to take lawful industrial action – yet as we’ve always maintained, it will not influence the manner in which we reach agreement. We intend to continue to negotiate in good faith on this package, including at the next bargaining meeting scheduled for 28 February to discuss the unions’ response as well as other matters.”

Staff at USyd took strike action throughout 2022, in an enterprise bargaining process which has been ongoing since 2021. 

The Week 10 strike, if it eventuates, will coincide with the NTEU’s national week of action regarding enterprise bargaining negotiations across Australia. 

This article has been updated to include the statement from the University of Sydney.