The strike campaign by Sydney Uni staff has already begun to force the intransigent, nasty management to back down from some aspects of their attack on staff conditions and education. Staff, represented by the NTEU and the CPSU, successfully shut down the campus for two days in late March, following a 24-hour strike in earlier in the month.
Lively pickets lined the entrances. Most lectures and classes were cancelled for the duration, and it felt like a weekend on the main campus. Many cars were turned around, including delivery vehicles. The staff picketing the Carillon Avenue gates were delighted to turn around a huge van of Diet Coke and an MJ Chickens van.
“There’s been a really great feeling on this picket, it’s been really wonderful to be part of”, said Danesh, a striking worker from the Department of Sociology.
The police riot squad were out in force at the strike, but a major push by police to break the main picket at City Road on the first morning was held off successfully.
Now, after seven months of stalled negotiations for an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), management’s negotiators are softening their approach. Thanks to the strike campaign, management have withdrawn attacks on anti-discrimination protections, intellectual freedom and review committees. They have agreed the union will be a party to the agreement and the union will be able to hold meetings on campus. There has been progress on academic workloads.
But management has not yet backed down on key aspects of their attack, including their offensive pay offer of 2 per cent, cuts to overtime, major cuts to sick pay, restrictions on casualisation, and their attacks on general staff pay classifications.
NTEU meetings have discussed further possible strike action to win their demands.
It’s clear that all the victories so far have been won by strike action, and it will take more to force management to heel. As one worker told Solidarity at the strike, “staff can see that there’s no other way than taking serious stopwork action to effect a change.”