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Education Training, Union

Victoria University staff set to strike over workloads

National Tertiary Education Union 2 mins read

Victoria University staff will launch a half day strike action on Wednesday from 12pm to midnight at all campuses as anger rises over a failure to give staff a fair pay rise and safe workloads. National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members will hold a strike rally outside each higher education Victoria University campus on Wednesday 6th June from midday.

Despite receiving the union’s claims more than a year ago, VU management has failed to make a concrete offer on pay.  Unmanageable workloads are a major sticking point due to VU’s controversial “block model” and recent job cuts. The VU workforce has been reduced by almost 20% since 2023 putting enormous pressure on remaining staff.

VU’s “block model” teaches students one semester-length subject in four weeks at a time rather than multiple units concurrently like at every other university in Australia.

In a move described by NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Sarah Roberts as “deeply antagonistic to the Union”, last week VU management provided a draft Enterprise Agreement (‘EA’) which sought to:

  1. Remove the NTEU as a party to the Agreement;

  2. Remove NTEU from the Joint Consultative Committee (the mechanism for open and regular consultation on workplace matters);

  3. Reduce staff rights to representation;

  4. Remove professional reclassification rights.

NTEU VU Branch President Brandy Cochrane said: 

Enough is enough. We expected VU Management to come to the table -- instead they've launched a hardline attack, increasing already excessive workloads to spread teaching from 36 weeks per year to 40

Staff have endured hundreds of colleagues being made redundant, an unsafe teaching model and a cost-of-living crisis, yet management clearly thinks they don’t deserve to be paid fairly”.

Instead of trying to resolve the issues, management is playing for time and not sending anyone with real decision-making power to talk about staff’s reasonable claims.”

NTEU Professional Staff Representative, Fleur Taylor said:

The irony that an ex-Labor premier leads a university that, in the experience of staff, relies on overwork and excessive hours as a core part of its operational model is not lost on us. Steve Bracks must bring senior management into line and ensure the university’s top decision makers get serious about a real pay offer.” 

NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Sarah Roberts said: 

WorkCover data reveals that VU has had more claims against it in the last two years than any other Victorian university.” 

Under VU’s model, staff are being forced to work huge hours of unpaid overtime just to get marking and course administration done.”

Staff need a fair pay rise, reasonable workloads and secure jobs.”

Major Campus Locations: 

Footscray Campus (strike will be held at Building P courtyard)

City Tower Campus, 370 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 (strike will be held at front of building) 

Contact details:

Victoria University NTEU Branch President Dr Brandy Cochrane – 0415 576 572

NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Sarah Roberts – 0412 495 146

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