University of Melbourne staff to launch seven-day strike action

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Melbourne will launch major industrial action across several work areas and faculties.

The action will include seven-day strikes, as well as a half-day stoppage across the institution.

NTEU members voted to take the strike action in response to representatives of Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell refusing to engage with the union’s claims around the issues of pay rises and employment certainty.

All NTEU members will stop work from midday on Monday, 28 August.

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The work stoppages and strike action will impact the university’s Faculty of Arts, Melbourne Law School, the VCA School of Art, student services, stagecraft and the library.

University of Melbourne’s vice chancellor’s team has also refused to engage with the NTEU’s claims around flexible working arrangements, workloads and concerns about the impact proposed restructures will have on employment opportunities.

In a statement announcing the industrial action, NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said:

“The University of Melbourne has engaged in industrial scale wage theft, giving it the shameful title of Australia’s worst underpayment university.

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“Even after repaying $45 million in lost wages, university management is trying to deny staff the fair pay increase they deserve.

“Universities need to abandon approaches like Melbourne’s to enterprise bargaining. It’s seriously out of touch with the universities accord which is rightly pushing institutions to become exemplary employers.”

NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Sarah Roberts said:

“People will be shocked to know how little respect one of Australia’s wealthiest universities is showing to its most precious asset – the staff.

“Industrial action at Melbourne and most of the other Victorian universities during open days show you progress on bargaining is way behind where it should be.

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“It’s time for common sense to prevail – return to the negotiating table and make some progress.”

According to NTEU University of Melbourne Branch President, David Gonzalez, the fact that the negotiation appears to have made little progress after one year “tells you everything you need to know about the way management has behaved”.

“Staff don’t take any strike action lightly, especially not for an entire working week,” Mr Gonzalez said. “We have been left with no choice.”

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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]