WSU Hawkesbury staff will go on strike

Picture taken at a previous National Tertiary Education Union rally. Picture: Paul Jones
Picture taken at a previous National Tertiary Education Union rally. Picture: Paul Jones

STAFF at Western Sydney University Hawkesbury campus will go on strike tomorrow (Thursday, October 19) over job security amid a university-wide restructure.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members from WSU’s Hawkesbury, Campbelltown, Kingswood and Bankstown campuses will walk off the job for four hours from 9am to attend a rally at the Parramatta South campus.

A NTEU announcement said members are appealing for secure jobs, decent pay and a fair say in their new enterprise agreement. WSU members also took a half-day strike action last month.

WSU branch president David Burchell said the university is in “a state of turmoil, anxiety and distress.”

He said hundreds of professional staff members are being required to attend interviews to secure jobs in the restructure, often at lower classification levels.

He said according to figures provided by management, more than half the teaching at WSU will be performed by casuals by 2020.

“In the current round of enterprise bargaining Western Sydney management have told us they are no longer interested in restricting the spread of casual labour. Casualisation, they tell us, is here to stay,” he said.

Robyn Moroney, WSU senior lecturer and NTEU Hawkesbury branch secretary, said students had been warned about the strike.

“The students have been told ahead of time if classes will be disrupted. It’s their last week of semester so for a lot of people it’s about revision,” Ms Maroney told the Gazette.

“We’re trying to pull people together and it’s really a solidarity thing. We’re not trying to be destructive as people often associate with this sort of action, but because we’re so spread out we want to cluster at one point.”

Ms Maroney said almost 70 per cent of face-to-face teaching in some areas was already done by casual staff: “It’s problematic. It’s not a solid, stable workforce. You have massive groups who walk in and out and you don’t see them - how do you manage quality?”

She also said the 2 per cent pay increase on offer was “paltry” and was below the Consumer Price Index.