Staff at Macquarie Uni in Sydney staged a 24-hour strike on 11 March to demand a reduction in casualisation and reject a below-inflation pay offer from management. Picketers at the entrances to the campus leafleted students and cars coming into the university.
Last year the union at Sydney Uni won 120 new ongoing teaching and research positions for casual staff, enough to reduce casualisation there by 20 per cent.
Macquarie has one of the highest rates of casualisation in the country. Figures from the university’s annual report show that casual staff have increased by over 50 per cent since 2005, with a third of staff now in casual positions.
Lecturer Noah Bassil told Solidarity the union is fighting, “the erosion of the core principles and core activities the university undertakes and that is teaching and research.”
The union is demanding the conversion of casual and fixed term contracts to permanent continuing staff.
“With that would come smaller class sizes… I’ve seen over the last ten years a huge increase in the size of our tutorials: from 15 to 20 and now 30 and 40 students in a tutorial. As far as I’m concerned that’s not university teaching. There’s been a real erosion of the student experience,” Noah said.