Home » Australian university union tries to block campaign against Western Sydney University College job cuts

Australian university union tries to block campaign against Western Sydney University College job cuts

Australian university union tries to block campaign against Western Sydney University College job cuts

A meeting of Western Sydney University (WSU) staff and students last month voted to form a rank-and-file committee to oppose the job destruction and restructuring at WSU College and across the university sector. To join the committee contact: cfpe.aus@gmail.com

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is seeking to stop a fight by rank-and-file staff members at Western Sydney University (WSU) against pro-business restructuring and job destruction at WSU College, the university’s wholly-owned feeder college.

Western Sydney University [Photo: eminentedu.com]

WSU NTEU branch president David Burchell sent an email to the union’s members at the College on July 3 that attempts to split them into “individual cases” and encourages them to accept redundancy packages.

This has only one purpose: To prevent a rank-and-file campaign across WSU against the restructuring, which would axe more than 10 percent of the teachers’ and learning coordinators’ jobs at WSU College and set a precedent for a wider assault on jobs and conditions throughout the university sector.

After refusing to organise any fight throughout WSU against the restructuring, the NTEU last month struck a deal with WSU to revise the management’s “change proposal” in order to facilitate the job cuts via so-called voluntary redundancies.

This was done behind the backs of staff and students at WSU College and across the university as a whole. Most staff and students at WSU still know nothing about the job losses, apart from campaigns conducted by supporters of the rank-and-file fight against the restructuring.

The deal with management was then presented as a fait accompli to a NTEU branch meeting on June 27, which was held at a time when most WSU College members could not attend, due to a mandatory teaching workshop.

Burchell rejected a call by a directly-affected rank-and-file WSU College staff and union member, Gabriela Zabala, and WSU educator Mike Head for the meeting to be rescheduled.

Now, Burchell declared in his email, the time has come to “protect and assist members individually. And so we’ve created individual cases for each and every member at the College who requests it.” This is designed to put pressure on WSU College staff to try to deal with the attack as individuals.

The final management-NTEU “change proposal” confirms the “disestablishment,” or abolition, of most teaching and learning coordinating positions.

Educators will be forced to compete directly against each other, through a “spill and fill” selection process, for the remaining jobs. Even those hand-picked for employment can be pushed into lower-paying posts, with their present salary level only promised for 12 months.

Overall, the equivalent of 17.6 full-time teaching and learning positions will be eliminated, saving WSU $2.8 million a year.