USyd staff go on seventh strike in historic EBA campaign

USyd staff go on seventh strike in historic EBA campaign
Image: NTEU staff members picketing outside Ross St. Photo: Christine Lai.


Staff at the University of Sydney went on strike for 24 hours, for their seventh day of industrial action amidst negotiations with management which have been ongoing for 20 months.

Across Camperdown campus, staff and students formed pickets blocking entrances and exits to the university.

Last year, USYD staff went on six days of strike during their enterprise bargaining campaign in a bid to fight for better working conditions, an end to casualisation, and reaching employment targets for Indigenous employees.

Following ongoing enterprise bargaining, USyd management released an offer two weeks ago that would see 15.4% spread over five years and a one-off payment of $2000 to alleviate the cost-of-living.

However, members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have rejected that offer on the basis that the increase equates to 3.3% a year, which is well below the current inflation rate which has been indexed at 7.8%, and is estimated to increase over the next six months.

Offer rejected by staff as a ‘real wage cut’

Photo: Christine Lai.

The offer by management was argued to be a “real wage cut” by NTEU members.

A document shared by the NTEU states the equivalent losses that staff would undergo if they were to accept these conditions now. According to the sheet, USyd management’s wage offer falls behind inflation by more than $5300 for a professional staff worker HE04 (Step 3), which would see a pay cut of $101 per week.

The NTEU published a spreadsheet outlining the ‘2024 Sydney Uni Pay Cut’ staff would receive if they were to accept management’s latest offer.

USyd NTEU Branch Committee Member Alma Torlakovic denounced the “insulting” pay offer, and explained the reasons for striking staff today as linked to fighting for higher wages- specifically a pay increase that was above inflation.

NTEU Branch Committee member Alma Torlakovic. Photo: Christine Lai.

The pay claim that the NTEU are currently fighting for is an annual pay rise of 5% or of CPI + 1.5%, whichever is indexed to give employees a higher wage.

Casual tutor Jaime*, who has been working in the Art History department for more than a decade condemned management for hiring one staff member as a full-time employee within the last 2 years.

“Management made a $1 billion surplus at the end of 2021-22, they clearly have enough profits to give staff a pay rise and yet they’ve chosen to keep the surplus to themselves. We have staff who are struggling to manage the cost-of-living, with rent prices that have been hiked up by 30%, 40%, and are living on week-to-week paychecks. It is an outrage that this is occurring”, they said.

Torlakovic emphasised the wage cuts across industries in Australia, and rejected the claim by the university that “staff are already being paid the highest in the sector so a wage cut of roughly 5 per cent is justified”.

“The union is fighting for a wage increase above inflation. This is really significant because workers are told constantly that if you get a wage rise it’ll only make inflation worse and cause the RBA to increase interest rates. Studies have shown that approximately 69% of inflation is due to corporate profits,” she said.

Students singing on the pickets. Photo: Christine Lai.

She rejected the argument by the RBA of workers wages pushing up inflation, asserting that it was “certainly corporate profits” that were doing “irreconcilable damage” to staff at the university.

The current enterprise bargaining period is the longest in USyd history. A 48 hour strike is set to be held in three weeks time if management fails to meet the demands of staff at the university.

*Name has been changed to preserve anonymity.

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.