National Tertiary Education Union members at the Queensland University of Technology have stopped working today from 8am to 5pm in their latest round of industrial action.
The University-wide strike has been accompanied by protest-rallies and picketing by some staff members at both the Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses.
QUT NTEU branch president, associate professor David Nielsen, said to Glass that wages, workload, and job security continue to be the Union’s top concerns.
‘Our bargaining committee has made some progress with the University, but an agreement can’t be made until all points are agreed upon,’ Neilsen said.
‘Every NTEU member at QUT is entitled to take part in industrial action today, and the staff are here because they are facing real pressure in their lives.’
‘We wouldn’t have taken this action if it wasn’t absolutely necessary – our intention is never to harm students.’
‘Our demands are not radical or utopian and the bargaining should reflect that.’
‘QUT is a community asset, and it should be resourced and treated as such.’
This is one of the most severe forms of industrial action available to the Union under their fair work agreement.
To step up pressure on the University, Neilsen said the Union could possibly increase the frequency of these kinds of actions.
‘Ultimately, staff working conditions are student learning conditions.’
Outgoing QUT Student Guild president Oscar Davison said that students ‘heavily’ support the working rights of staff.
‘I’ve spoken with countless students this year, and stood side-by-side with many of them at other NTEU strikes this year,’ Davison said.
‘The message is clear – staff deserve better.’
A spokesperson for QUT said the goal of the University is to achieve a ‘fair outcome’ for staff and students.
‘QUT, along with the majority of Australian universities is in the midst of negotiating a new enterprise agreement with our staff and their representatives with a view to achieving a fair outcome in the best interests of our students and staff,’ they said.
‘We respect the right of those staff who are members of the National Tertiary Education (Union) to undertake protected industrial action as part of that process and we hope that if they choose to do so that the impact on students will be minimised.’
‘The parties bargaining meet again next week.’
It is unclear at this stage whether the NTEU will delay marking as a form of industrial action if enterprise bargaining persists beyond the exam period.
Find out more about QUT staff demands, here.
More to come.