Action can stop job cuts at Melbourne Uni

A COLD, wind-swept day did not stop over 120 Melbourne Uni staff and students joining a protest against university management’s plan to sack 20 academics in the arts faculty. The protest was called by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the union representing most staff at the university.

Academics generating less than five research points between 2003 and 2007 will be judged “research inactive” and be eligible for compulsory redundancy. The points were calculated through the discredited Research Quality Framework (RQF).

“Research inactive” staff will have to front a panel to justify why they should keep their job.

The sickening part of the exercise is that if the Dean of Arts is successful in sacking enough academics to save about $2 million, a $16 million cash injection will be put into the faculty.

The university says it has a financial reason for the sackings—that it employed too many staff when it had an influx of international students. Less international students are now enrolling so academics have to pay. But it is obvious that they have a hit list of academics they want to get rid of.

NTEU President Ted Clark told the protest the job losses were unnecessary because student numbers are actually rising. And an NTEU survey of 800-plus Melbourne University staff, done this year, warns of rising workloads stress, and declining morale.

Libby Buckingham, president of the student union, lent student support and commended the work of staff in keeping standards up, despite unbearable conditions.

Graham Willett, representative from the Workloads Committee, gave a few suggestions on how the university could save money—cut the Vice-Chancellor’s salary, and get rid of the new “Provost”. He also indicated that to win the jobs back we will need to take industrial action.

The university will not stop at the arts faculty, nor at only one round of sackings. Members were warned not to go to meetings with supervisors about their performance or other matters without a union delegation present. The jobs must be saved, they can be saved, and real action can save them.

By Melanie Lazarow, NTEU, University of Melbourne


Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Brotherhood campaign ends with sector-leading enterprise agreement and stronger union

Workers at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne have voted up a new enterprise agreement, ending 16 months of bargaining that saw strikes for the first time in the 93-year-old anti-poverty charity’s history.

Ingham’s strikes show the way to fight for real wage rises

There was a determined and celebratory mood last Friday morning among hundreds of workers picketing the Ingham’s Burton poultry plant on Kaurna land in northern Adelaide.

Time to hunt building bosses, not ducks

Instead of talk about duck hunting, the unions should be doing something about the 50 and 60-hour weeks that are the rule on construction sites.


  1. Can you imagine the work stress for academics in the Arts faculty at the moment? And there are 220 positions campus wide that Glyn wants to chop, so this stress is being felt through all faculties. If the financial figures are to be believed, the amounts we are talking about here are paltry compared to the money stashed away by the university. What a disaster for Australia.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here