Mur­doch uni strikes

Melville Times - - Front Page - Josh Zim­mer­man

MUR­DOCH Univer­sity staff staged a half­day work-stop last week and are plan­ning fur­ther in­dus­trial ac­tion af­ter the Fair Work Com­mis­sion al­lowed the univer­sity to ter­mi­nate its ex­ist­ing en­ter­prise agree­ment (EA) late last month.

Na­tional Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union (NTEU) mem­bers walked off cam­pus about 1.30pm on Thurs­day in protest over the move, which will force Mur­doch Univer­sity’s more than 3000 staff on to the far less gen­er­ous mod­ern award.

The univer­sity has vowed to keep in place cur­rent staff wages and other ben­e­fits for six months but the clock is now tick­ing and pres­i­dent of the Mur­doch branch of the NTEU Jo-Ann Whal­ley said union mem­bers were pre­pared to fight to pro­tect their work con­di­tions.

“We held a meet­ing (Thurs­day) lunch time and the feel­ing in the room was one of sol­i­dar­ity, anger and very grim de­ter­mi­na­tion,” she said. “You could sense that staff feel be­trayed by man­age­ment and the vote to hold a work-stop was close to unan­i­mous.”

Ms Whal­ley said NTEU mem­bers also en­dorsed the cre­ation of a cam­paign com­mit­tee to plan fur­ther in­dus­trial ac­tion, with a half-day strike on Septem­ber 26.

From page 1 “We are plan­ning a na­tional day of protest and have al­ready had mul­ti­ple messages of sup­port from around the coun­try,” she said.

“There will be ac­tiv­i­ties held on cam­puses all over Aus­tralia and we are en­cour­ag­ing NTEU mem­bers at other uni­ver­si­ties who are cur­rently in­volved in EA ne­go­ti­a­tions to join us in strik­ing on the day.”

In a state­ment Mur­doch Univer­sity said it be­lieved “with gen­uine com­mit­ment from both par­ties” a new EA would be in place within six months.

“We un­der­stand a very small num­ber of our staff chose to take in­dus­trial ac­tion yes­ter­day and we con­tinue to re­spect and sup­port their choice in this mat­ter, just as we do those who chose to con­tinue to work on be­half of the univer­sity,” the state­ment said.

“At this stage, we be­lieve that all par­ties should fo­cus their en­ergy and time on se­cur­ing an agree­ment that pro­vides cer­tainty for our staff and is mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial by pro­vid­ing a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

“Any dis­trac­tions from this fo­cus are not help­ful for our stu­dents nor the ma­jor­ity of our staff who con­tinue to work hard on achiev­ing the best pos­si­ble fu­ture for the univer­sity.”

With­out an EA in place, Mur­doch Univer­sity man­age­ment will be free to re­duce wages by 25 to 39 per cent, cut re­dun­dancy en­ti­tle­ments, re­move aca­demic work­load reg­u­la­tion and elim­i­nate em­ployer-pro­vided paid parental leave.

Ms Whal­ley said though the univer­sity had promised to pro­tect aca­demic free­dom, agree­ing on ac­cept­able wage in­creases re­mained a se­ri­ous stum­bling block.

“Back in May they pre­sented us with a very min­i­mal pay of­fer that didn’t even keep pace with in­fla­tion over the term of the agree­ment,” she said.

“They’ve now said they are go­ing to re­vise that but we are yet to see any de­tail.”

“We’re not go­ing to back down on what we be­lieve is fair and rea­son­able; this is only the be­gin­ning, we will see this through to the end and we will win.”

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