The National Tertiary Education Union at the University of New South Wales has conducted its most recent bout of industrial action in an attempt to negotiate for better pay and more job security.
The action has come after more than a year of negotiations between union members and the university’s management.
According to UNSW NTEU branch president, Richard Vickery progress on the negotiations has been slow and limited, leading to union members overwhelmingly voting in favour of industrial action, which began with short work stoppages and a twenty four hour strike.
“Insecure work, workloads, and pay,” Mr Vickery said when asked what the strike action was about. “I think that those issues are pretty common across the whole sector,”
The latest action was a five hour strike involving picketing, followed by a rally as announced on Twitter.
Mr Vickery raised concerns about pay rises not matching increasing inflation.
“Last year there was only a 1 per cent pay increase, and given how bad inflation was this meant a significant real cut in wages,” he said.
Another concern is long term casual workers, who union said face high levels of job insecurity.
Part of the NTEU’s bargaining involved offering casual workers permanent positions.
UNSW management has reportedly offered to create 200 new jobs that will be offered to casual staff, however this offer has been contentious with the union demanding a concurrent decrease in total casual staff.
The concerns expressed by Mr Vickery have been echoed by the organiser of the University of Wollongong’s NTEU branch, Martin Cubby
“We still don’t have a pay offer from management that is on level pegging with where other universities agreements have settled with other unions around NSW,” he said.
Mr Cubby has warned that industrial action similar to that at the UNSW may be necessary if negotiations fail to make progress.
“We always treat industrial action as a last resort,” he said.
“We have been trying to negotiate the pay and conditions of UOW for up to twelve months now and it’s got to a point where management simply isn’t listening and they still haven’t moved much from their position.
“We’ve got a union members meeting next Wednesday, and as part of those discussions I’m sure there will be a debate about whether or not to take further industrial action.”