University of Western Sydney:
Unprecedented support for strike
by Andrew Jackson The University of Western Sydney's (UWS) seven campuses will lie empty on Thursday, when academic and general staff walk off the job to protest forced restructuring and job losses. Classes will be cancelled, the gates will be locked and there will be a picket line at each campus. "Staff and students are angry that management proposals for restructuring involve forced retrenchments resulting in crowding in classrooms and other services, staff being demoted to lower graded positions, less service to students, and a reduced ability to maintain quality education at UWS", stated Robyn Moroney, Branch President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at UWS. "The level of staff and student anger is reflected in the unprecedented support on this campus for joint strike action by both unions on two days with support of UWS student unions", said Ms Moroney. The strike will affect over 25,000 students at UWS campuses at Bankstown, Werrington, Kingswood, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Parramatta and Richmond; and is a joint action between the NTEU and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU). The unions are currently negotiating a new enterprise agreement with the university, which plans to merge the administration of its campuses by the end of the year. The unions warn that pay increases offered by UWS will be hollow comfort for staff when they lose their jobs, or are forcibly demoted. UWS Branch President of the CPSU, Paul Best says, "We are facing a situation where up to 50 per cent of general staff could see their so- called wage increase handed back early next year, or worse, along with catastrophic consequences for their superannuation entitlements. "This is unjust and totally unacceptable. We are demanding salary maintenance for these staff for as long as they remain in their jobs." The 24-hour strike this Thursday follows a stopwork meeting on October 18, and a half-day action on November 1. The unions have also foreshadowed a ban on the transmission of exam and end of year results if the dispute over restructuring and bargaining is not resolved.