UMSU Supports the NTEU National Day of Action – 15 May 2020

Noni Bridger, UMSU Education Public Affairs Officer.
Charlie Joyce, UMSU Education Public Affairs Officer. 
Hannah Buchan, UMSU President


At the last meeting of UMSU Students Council, a motion was passed to endorse the NTEU’s National Day of Action to Save Higher Ed Jobs and support the public and online actions that will be taken by the NTEU during the NDA. UMSU reaffirms its commitment to supporting the campaigns of the NTEU, especially those undertaken by the University of Melbourne NTEU branch. UMSU has been lucky to enjoy a close working relationship with the NTEU at the University of Melbourne, and fully endorses the union’s campaign to extend Jobkeeper to currently excluded uni staff, support higher degree research students with universal extensions, and calls on the government to fund the $5 billion shortfall in higher education funding. The motion also calls for the establishment of a joint action in the form of a University Assembly of all staff and students at the University of Melbourne. UMSU will work with the University of Melbourne NTEU on developing this University Assembly and create a joint campaign combining staff and student demands. 

On 1 May, the University of Melbourne NTEU branch passed a motion stating they would not accept any cuts to wages or conditions on campus and, in the event that staff are asked to vote again on the terms of their enterprise bargaining agreement, to launch a ‘Vote No’ campaign. UMSU is resolved to support democratic and grassroots decision making of the NTEU on our campus and believe that members are best placed to make decisions about their contracts and should be supported in doing so. We will support any campaign by the University of Melbourne NTEU to protect the rights, wages and conditions of all their members – inclusive of all permanent, casual, sessional, and graduate student workers on campus.

The conditions faced by students and staff alike are caused by massive underinvestment in universities as a public institution and by the creeping neoliberalisation of universities undertaken by executive management. More than ever it is important that staff and students understand that their fight is the same fight. Just as students shouldn’t accept a lower quality of education, staff should not experience lower quality conditions and pay. At the University of Melbourne there has been no fee relief offered to students so it is quite astounding that they’ve elected to lay off staff and ask those remaining to take pay cuts. The University executives have taken an elective 20% cut to pay, however a 20% cut to $1.5 million is still a salary of $1.2 million.

UMSU encourages students to attend and support the NTEU NDA on 21 May and join in on events and actions in the lead up to 21 May and on the day. The future of higher education is at stake and it has never been more important for staff and students to work together to take back our universities and support one another as we fight for a better university.