Staff at UTS will strike for 24 hours on 19 October in the last week of classes.
NTEU members voted for the strike as part of a series of actions during a two-hour stop work rally and meeting on 4 October.
Management is treating the union with contempt. After nearly five months of negotiations, they have offered nothing concrete except proposals to cut conditions. They claim staff are ‘rorting’ sick leave and want to tighten it up—and they are refusing our demand for sick leave for casuals. They want to get rid of Scholarly Teaching Fellows (STFs), one of the few paths out of casual employment. And they want to get rid of review committees for misconduct and make it much easier to dismiss staff. They’ve talked about “simplifying” the agreement and reorganising casual pay scales.
All this while they spend $1 billion on buildings, hold onto a $73 million surplus, and claim to be a “social justice” university.
We cannot afford to accept this—but more than that, we need to extend conditions and defend education at UTS. We have a rate of insecure employment nearly as high as McDonalds, with 77 per cent of staff on fixed term or casual contracts.
Industrial action works
We know that industrial action works. Last bargaining round, the university offered five STF positions, but by striking, we won 30. We won five days domestic violence leave, and we stopped efforts to force us to go on leave at Christmas, and for managers to pick the dates for Long Service Leave, amongst other things.
We have a short window to take action while classes are on. Teaching ends for most people on October 20 and doesn’t start again until mid-March 2018. Management is going to try to wear us down over the summer when we are not in as strong a position to respond. The strike on 19 October can signal we are serious now.