Sydney Uni staff rally against job cuts and deskilling

Over 150 Sydney University workers have held a feisty rally in their bid to stop forced redundancies and deskilling in support services.

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) came together to protest the planned changes.

They delivered almost 1000 signatures against the proposal to the deputy vice chancellor Stephen Garton and boldly argued directly against him when he said the restructures were necessary.

Young members of the ICT helpdesk showed great courage in challenging him directly about the lack of evidence supporting the changes and argued the restructure would in fact worsen customer service. Garton had no comeback and was forced to slink away embarrassed.

The uni bosses are trying to put the wrecking ball through support services, aiming to axe 30 jobs. Staff who specialise in helping people with ICT, finance, campus infrastructure or HR issues would be forced into generalist roles and expected to answer questions on all four.

There would also be job cuts in finance and the workload associated with them pushed onto academics and remaining staff. The changes would prepare the ground for further outsourcing down the track.

The strength of the petition and rally turnout showed the directly affected staff how much support they have and was a real step forward in the campaign.

In previous restructures, there has been too much of a focus on responding within the “proper channels” of the Change Management Process. But the bosses just use this process to string workers along and prevent us from openly campaigning, all the while making facts on the ground by forcing people out of jobs.

Earlier in this campaign, there was reluctance from some staff to organise a petition and hold a rally, thinking it might anger management and jeopardise the consultation they were doing with staff. Through discussion, we were able to overcome these doubts and push forward.

After seeing the petition come out, management agreed to redesign one of the change proposals for the ICT section, where workers have fought the hardest.

There will now be even more pressure on them to meet the demands of no job cuts, no de-skilling, no workload increases and no outsourcing.

It’s only through openly campaigning and taking industrial action that we can win.

By Miro Sandev


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