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Support Your Colleagues at UNSW and Macquarie – An Urgent Message from the NTEU General Secretary

Posted 25 November 2010 by Grahame McCulloch (NTEU National Office)

Dear Friends,

Around 150 NTEU members have imposed bans on the transmission of examination results at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University.  NTEU Branch negotiators have spent more than two years trying to secure Collective Agreements which guarantee competitive pay rises, job security, reductions in contract and casual employment and the restoration of employment standards stripped away by the Howard Government’s Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRs) and WorkChoices.

Members forced to take industrial action

NTEU members at 30 universities have already achieved Collective Agreements which deliver these guaranteed employment standards, and 5 other universities are close to settlement.  Only the UNSW and Macquarie University managements have resisted and opposed these standards, particularly on job security and reducing contract and casual employment.  UNSW and Macquarie members have been left with little choice but to pursue direct industrial action. 

Management to unfairly penalise members imposing bans

The 150 members imposing bans have offered to perform their full range of duties except for the transmission of results.  Management has rejected this offer and will not pay any salary to these members for the duration of the bans – this may well involve the loss of thousands of dollars for each member, many of whom are on relatively low salaries and/or are employed casually.

Urgent solidarity needed

I urge every NTEU member to provide direct support to our colleagues.  Their fight is your fight – for employment standards which reflect the professionalism and productivity of all Australian university staff.

With your support our Macquarie and UNSW colleagues can win this dispute.  You can make a big difference:

If you are an NTEU member at UNSW or Macquarie, any donation you make will be set aside to specifically support your local colleagues imposing bans.  Money from the whole NTEU membership will be evenly distributed to members imposing the bans at both universities.

Please support this appeal – you will find further information here:


Grahame McCulloch

General Secretary


  1. Cathy R said on 0:19 Thursday 2 Dec, 2010

    [ -1 ] Students - no, sorry, you don't pay for your exams to be marked (and anyway, they are being marked). And you don't pay to get your results. You pay because modern governments believe that education is mainly an individual private good rather than a public good. The NTEU proposes the opposite - that the public good of education far outweighs the individual private benefit. That is, that the benefit to society of an educated populace is in itself a worthwhile outcome. Therefore, society collectively (through our taxes) should pay for education.

    Higher education was free for some years in Australia (1974-1989) - what do you think the relationship between students and the university was then? Higher education SHOULD be free still - that way we wouldn't be subjected to this nonsense about "what students pay for" and we could get on with actually (re)building the community of scholars (not customers and service providers) that a university SHOULD be.

    Unfortunately, today, you do have to pay. And paying means that you have access to learning experiences, to be exposed to knowledgeable teachers engaged in scholarship and research in their disciplines, and for the opportunity to learn and develop critical thinking skills beyond a concern for the immediate and superficial. But that's not what you pay FOR. If you think your "contract" with the university comes down to a simple transaction - a "fee for service" relationship - then you are clearly not taking full advantage of the opportunities you are being offered.

    The staff taking industrial action care deeply about the university and its students, and about the quality of research and teaching we do. In the long run, the conditions we are proposing in our negotiations with the management will improve the quality of your learning experience. If you don't want your experience to consist of sitting in large classes taught by overworked stressed-out staff, I suggest you support our action.

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  2. student :P said on 20:04 Wednesday 1 Dec, 2010

    [ +1 ] No matter what you tried to do, I have still got my results. yayyyyyy...good luck with everything NTEU losers :P

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  3. -_- student said on 5:59 Wednesday 1 Dec, 2010

    [ 0 ] @Sarah

    My point wasn't that there is a price tag attached to marks. In the end students pay for their exams TO BE MARKED - this is to say nothing of the role of academics in society, just of what, essentially, the student's relationship with the University in contract consists of.

    Also, This was never a freedom of speech issue

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  4. aCOREappointment said on 16:01 Tuesday 30 Nov, 2010

    [ +4 ] Precarious short term contracts... this is what it means for real people:
    A colleague of mine - an academic with 12 years university training who has been on endless fixed term contracts, a single mother of three and no other income - she was two week's shy of her latest contract finishing with no idea as to whether it would be renewed. It was at the 11th hour - but not before she almost left the university for a jmuch lower paying job in the community sector because she had had enough of the disrespect, stress and insecurity she experiences here at Macquarie.

    Today another colleague, similarly precariously employed on endless fixed term/casual contracts came and resigned. She has simply had enough of the contstant stress and anxiety that comes with this kind of employment, which had begun to affect her physical and emotional health.
    This is why we are taking action. Yes, it is scary strike and to lose pay when you have a mortgage and kids, but if we don't stand together then its those at the 'bottom' like my colleagues above who will suffer most. Those of us in high paying tenured positions have a responsibility to look after more than our own hip pockets.

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  5. Carli said on 23:40 Monday 29 Nov, 2010

    [ +3 ] A good lecturer is infinitely more valuable than a bad one. What UNSW is doing is sending all the good lecturers off to other universities where they are treated better. This is worse than the private/ public school debate, because students will still be expected to pay premium dollar at UNSW for the 'reputation' that the uni has built on the back of great lecturers. The uni is turning into a business fast, and one that places a much higher importance on dollars than quality of education. Why are so many students sticking up for a university that is budgeting a $95 million surplus this year off your dollar, and yet doesn't care to satisfy the basic desire for reliable employment of some of it's best lecturers? I lost one of my best law lecturers to this ridiculous farce, the uni has far more dollars than sense.

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  6. Sarah Gregson said on 21:25 Monday 29 Nov, 2010

    [ -2 ] This is such a narrow view of the role of an academic in society. If students really 'pay' for their marks, what's the price for an HD? Why do some students only get a pass? Are they just the poorer kids?
    Academics get paid to teach and research. I think we would be poor teachers if the example we set is to do as we are told by a management that has lost any sense of wider social responsibility. As researchers, we should be obligated to critique that which we see as wrong and not in the public interest. Our stance against the unregulated use of fixed-term contracts is exactly that - contingent employment is anathema to high quality teaching and research and will ultimately lead to poorer outcomes for students.

    Think of the societies you know where academics are prevented from criticising the powerful - is that the kind of society in which you want to live?

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  7. -_- student said on 1:24 Sunday 28 Nov, 2010

    [ 0 ] The word 'right' is thrown around so often that is now so elastic to have absolutely lost any meaning whatsoever. Sure they have the "right" to stand up for themselves, and so too may the University have the "right" to exercise whatever "rights" they have under the contractual arrangement with their staff, and this may include docking pay for all those participating.

    Furthermore it really doesn't matter that the staff are doing other things such as "marking" and conducting lectures - in the end this is not what students pay for. Lectures are more or less a public good... anyone can attend a lecture. In the end what students pay for, and what the University is meant to provide is a degree, and the degree is accompanied by marks. Yes, we pay academic staff for our marks - and as far as we are concerned without the marks we are deprived wholly or at least substantially of the benefit of our arrangement with the University.

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  8. Cathy R said on 11:36 Saturday 27 Nov, 2010

    [ -1 ] You can be as appalled as you like - but NTEU members will still be taking action to defend their working rights. Sometimes people have to stand up for themselves against exploitation and these unionists are displaying great courage in doing that. Their colleagues are supporting them - as is their RIGHT under even the sub-standard industrial laws we have in this country.

    The penalty of docking pay for a full day when all a member has done is miss a one-hour meeting is indeed unfair - especially when they are doing all of their other duties (including marking).

    I suggest you find out the facts about why the NTEU is taking action before making such inane comments. Put yourself in the shoes of dedicated university workers who continue to put in long hours despite the lack of appreciation and recognition from the Management, and despite the fact that their representatives have been bargaining for over 18 MONTHS for a new workplace agreement, with the management making NO concessions on job security and pay. How would YOU feel about that?

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  9. James said on 17:20 Friday 26 Nov, 2010

    [ -6 ] I am appauled with the above and the action of the NTEU; but my only comment (on this article) is this...
    "Management to unfairly penalise members imposing bans"... Do you know how rediculous you sound?

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