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Swinburne NTEU members join rising tide of Victorian university strike action

National Tertiary Education Union 2 mins read

National Tertiary Education Union members at Swinburne University will strike next week in response to an unprecedented attack on working conditions and academic freedom.

 

University management has proposed scrapping more than 140 rights and conditions from the enterprise agreement.

 

NTEU members will stop work on Wednesday for half a day to protest the radical plan.

 

It comes a month after more than 300 Swinburne staff made a vote of no confidence in Vice-Chancellor Pascale Quester.

 

The Vice-Chancellor was handed a five-year contract extension just two weeks later, taking her tenure to 2030 - 10 years in the job.

 

Swinburne management has proposed removing caps on unsafe workloads, limiting academic freedom, reducing protections against bullying and erasing the path for casual staff to convert to permanent roles.

 

Next week’s Swinburne strike is the latest industrial action at Victorian universities with union members at the University of Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe, VU and RMIT also opposing slow or stalled enterprise bargaining.

 

"Swinburne’s plan is one of the most extreme attacks on working conditions I have ever seen at a university," NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said.

 

"Management appears hellbent on driving conditions down to the bare minimum.

 

“Rather than genuine negotiations with the NTEU, Swinburne management is pushing a radical agenda which has no place in any workplace let alone a public university.

 

"This could have devastating safety impacts for Swinburne staff who are being treated with extraordinary disrespect.”

 

NTEU Swinburne Branch President Dr Julie Kimber said the strike rally would send a clear message to the Vice-Chancellor.

 

"The Vice-Chancellor's disregard for staff is palpable. She brushed off as propaganda work stress surveys that show staff are at breaking point.

 

"Now, she wants to gag professional staff from making public comments on the university and to dictate to academic staff what they should teach and research and the methods they use."

 

"This approach is insulting. And it is doubly so after the exhausting contribution made by staff through the pandemic".

 

"Our universities are in danger of becoming little more than profit-making ventures where staff and students are of secondary importance to that mission. In the process, the communities they are supposed to serve are entirely forgotten."

 

“Swinburne staff deserve a fair pay rise, secure jobs and safe workloads, not an employer which treats them and their students with contempt.”

 

NTEU members at Swinburne will rally on the corner of John Street and Wakefield Streets (Swinergy corner) from 12.30pm on Wednesday.


Contact details:

Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480 / matt@hortonadvisory.com.au

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