NTEU Consider Action

30 June 2013

University staff could strike or protest on campus this year after voting for industrial action on working conditions.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the University have been negotiating a new collective agreement, which would cover staff from professors and tutors to security guards.

NTEU campaigner and archivist at the Baillieu Library Katie Wood said staff have decided to pressure the university to offer a better deal. They will meet to consider options including stop work meetings and announcements during class.

“The University is not taking our demands and our concerns seriously,” she said.

“The conditions around workloads and job security are really important matters for staff here—there’s been cut after cut in government funding and that’s meant year after year of redundancies and restructures.”

Ms Wood said declines in work conditions have caused stress, unhappiness and poorer education quality.

“We hope we get student support in our campaign and they recognise that any disruptions that are caused are for that campaign for better conditions for students as well.

The Student Union has been supporting staff in their enterprise bargaining.UMSU Education Public Officer John Lister said it is important for the Student Union to support the NTEU, because they both have student interests at heart.

He said UMSU will notify students ahead of any industrial action and encourage them to support the staff in their negotiations.

University Provost, Professor Margaret Shiel, said it would be unhelpful for the NTEU to organise industrial action.

“It’s not clear to me what the action would achieve,” she said.

The University has been managing government cuts to higher education and research funding. Professor Shiel said this is a constraint to the pay it can offer to staff.

“What we’re looking to get out of the new agreement is something that positions us well to attract and retain a really talented workforce,” she said.

“We want to improve conditions where we can, but we also have to keep in mind the frameworks of spending our resources responsibly.”

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