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Five arrests at University of Sydney protest
Five people were arrested yesterday during a protest at the University of Sydney during a 48 hour strike by staff over wages and conditions.
Scores of staff and students together had been picketing the university’s entrances.
Protestors entered a Chemistry building lecture theatre to distribute information about the staff’s call for improved pay and working conditions.
There were several incidents involving police – in trying to break the picket line so others could enter freely, in trying to remove protestors from a building, and in removing them from the lecture theatre.
University academic Damien Cahill said police were trying to shut down the picket line.
“It was definitely heavy handed, I see this as part of management’s attempts to intimidate staff from taking industrial action.”
The Chancellery encouraged students and staff to turn up to classes.
Staff union members had voted for a two-day strike after their latest employment offer was rejected by Sydney University Chancellery.
The National Tertiary Education Union and the Community and Public Sector Union said that Sydney University Chancellery executives had said that the Union’s proposal for higher wages would lead to more casualization of staff.
The University’s spokesperson Andrew Potter responded.
“The irony of this enterprise bargaining discussion is that because the union’s demanding such a high pay rise of 7 per cent, that would only lead significantly to greater casualisation and higher staff-student ratios – exactly the things the union’s arguing against,” he said.
Mr Potter claimed that less than 600 of Sydney University’s 7,000 staff were part of the strike action.
This strike action this week is the second in a month.
The strike is continuing today.
The working conditions and wage dispute issues are an endemic issue across most of Australia’s forty plus universities and it will only get worse before any possibility of it getting better. Most Universities are under the oversight of the Public Universities Act but with Chancelleries increasingly dissociated by corporate structures and boards bottom line financial margins mean more than wages and pay conditions. Like the corporate sector which during the last twenty years has manufactured extraordinary remuneration for its executives while managing at best staff wages to CPI increases so to have Universities – Chancelleries’ executive remuneration has risen at rates not matched by staff wages.
Federal Governments and Chancelleries in general are failing to ensure equity principles on their campuses – a one rule for all approach which would go a long way to remedy the generally low morale that staff deal with on Australia’s university campuses.
– Declaration of impartiality interest – Gerry Georgatos, the writer of this article, was a member of a University Board, 2006, 2007 and 2008.