Uni staff strike for first time in 20 years

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

When University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) staff walk off the job on 25 October, it will be the university’s first strike action for two decades.

At a meeting of more than 200 UniSQ staff, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members voted unanimously to take a half-day strike from lunchtime on Wednesday.

“Management have refused to meet further with the Union and are taking us to the Fair Work Commission instead,” said NTEU UniSQ Branch President, Professor Andrea Lamont-Mills. “It’s a gross overreaction, given how close we are to reaching final agreement. Members see it as yet another aggressive, unnecessary escalation.”

Professor Lamont-Mills described staff as “keen to show UniSQ management that they won’t agree to losing important rights and entitlements”.

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NTEU Queensland Secretary Michael McNally said UniSQ management “appear hung up on removing review processes for termination of employment due to ill health or unsatisfactory performance that currently protect members”.

“Bizarrely, UniSQ management also refuse to commit to using fair and objective criteria where they identify positions for redundancy, or to commit to using forced redundancies as a last resort,” said Mr McNally. “The job security of all staff at UniSQ is at stake.”

Although UniSQ Management have said they want to ‘streamline’ the Agreement to reduce costs, Mr McNally says “it’s clear these final sticking points have nothing to do with budgets as they won’t save a single cent”.

“Moving to forced redundancies without using all other measures like redeployment and natural attrition first might actually cost the University money,” he said.

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UniSQ Management have until Tuesday 24 October to redress these outstanding matters. If the negotiation is unsuccessful, UniSQ members will stop work and, instead, rally to defend their rights and entitlements.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live