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Why students must support staff fight

The Newcastle University Students’ Association (NUSA) stands in solidarity with University staff who are holding an emergency stop-work meeting on Thursday, August 2. It is essential that students support staff members’ right to organise and strike in support of fair pay and conditions
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The bargaining process, which sets out the conditions and pay of University staff, has suffered through almost 30 meetings, stretching unnecessarily over 12 months, in which the University management has failed to expedite negotiations and has demonstrated sheer indifference to the needs of its own staff, according to theNational Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Newcastle branch.

The NTEU are “fighting for more secure forms of work and better working conditions for staff in insecure employment.” University staff are now looking at the insecurity of annual contracts, casualised work and constant ‘restructuring’, which collectively compromise their morale, well-being, and undermine their capacity to excel in their work. And it’s not only teaching staff who are on short-term contracts (some as short as three months); professional staff in fields that are essential to a quality institution such as engagement, health, infrastructure, planning and many more are also facing these insecure working conditions. This occurs while the University of Newcastle hits record profits with $336 million in annual surpluses since 2012 and executive pay rises of up to 15% last year according to Rude Health, the NTEU’s report into the University’s finances.

As students, we all know what insecure employment feels like – it’s a lived experience and a dismal reality for us as future graduates as the employment sphere becomes increasingly unstable. But for these conditions to be exacerbated by the very institution that we invest our time and money into is shameful, irresponsible and out of touch.

The NTEU is also fighting for the introduction of paid domestic and family violence leave, improvements to paid parental leave provisions, support for staff career development opportunities, fair pay and equitable superannuation arrangements. NUSA supports the right of staff to make these demands and hopes that staff can reach an agreement with the University soon.

We encourage all University staff to stop work on August 2 and encourage all students to come along and support staff at our Union Day on WednesdayAugust 15 at Park on the Hill from noon onwards where you can enjoy some food, fun, and gain valuable information from union members in various industries.

Thomas Levick is the Director of Student Publications, Newcastle University Students’ Association

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