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Issue #1860      March 13, 2019

NTEU protests casualisation

National tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members from the ACT Division protested at the Welcome Reception for the Universities Australia National Conference highlighting the consequences of the mass casualisation of higher education. The conference was held at the National Convention Centre, Canberra. Vice-Chancellors from all over the country met up for the annual conference.

NTEU members contrasted the salaries of these Vice-Chancellors, in many cases more than one million dollars, with the earnings of casually employed university staff who earn, on average, below the Australian full-time minimum wage.

Protestors held signs outlining that more than 2 in 5 university staff:

  • have no paid sick leave
  • have no paid annual leave
  • don’t get paid on public holidays
  • have no employer paid parental leave
  • receive only the bare minimum in superannuation
  • have no job security

These are the consequences of casualisation – workplace rights that should be standard for Australian workers have been eroded or removed.

The consequences of this can seem relatively minor – such as staff working with runny noses and battling the flu – through to extremely serious. The NTEU protest heard of university staff who had been forced to return to work 9 days after giving birth, while NTEU National President Alison Barnes’ piece in The Australian this week relayed the story of someone returning to work despite battling cancer, and having a mastectomy only a week before.

While this protest focused on casualisation, we know that insecure work can also affect many fixed-term staff in similar ways.

As union members, we need to ensure that our efforts to win fair wages and conditions extend to all university staff – not just those who are securely employed. NTEU ACT Division members are committed to standing up and expressing their solidarity with the most vulnerable and exploited workers in their sector.

Next article – Clean water a human right

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