A two-day strike was planned at La Trobe Uni as Solidarity went to press, after management announced 350 job cuts across its Melbourne and regional campuses. Its five faculties will be merged into just two as part of a restructure plan.
The cuts are driven by management plans to find $65 million to improve its research rankings. Universities across Australia are facing $900 million of direct cuts to university budgets delivered by the Gillard Labor government, and continued by Abbott.
This comes during NTEU negotiations with the university on a new enterprise agreement. “Class sizes keep getting bigger and staff workloads are getting out of control,” La Trobe NTEU branch president Virginia Mansel Lees said. This year alone student numbers have increased by 1300—yet the university wants to employ less staff.
There is no reason the university should get away with the job cuts—a combined staff and student campaign at Sydney Uni in 2012 successfully resisted similar cuts. The same kind of action will be needed at La Trobe.