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NTEU Media Release: Howe Inquiry into insecure work wraps up with a focus on universities

Posted 22 March 2012 by Andrew Nette (NTEU National Office)

The nationwide Howe Inquiry into Insecure Work wraps up today in Melbourne with a focus on the situation of casual university academics.

Casual academic staff from Swinburne University of Technology will stage a protest vigil at 12pm in support of the work of the Inquiry and to highlight their poor employment conditions.

This includes job insecurity, reduced entitlements compared to their on-going colleagues and delays of up to six weeks in being paid for teaching done in the first semester.

The vigil will take place outside the front of Melbourne Town Hall, the venue of the Inquiry.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) national office will present evidence to the Inquiry, at approximately 2.30pm. Those speaking will include:

  • Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President
  • Ruchi Sembey, NTEU casual member from Swinburne University of Technology
  • Neville Knight, NTEU casual member from Deakin University

NTEU will be followed by Robyn May, a university researcher who has conducted the largest survey to date of casual academics in Australia.

NTEU President Jeannie Rea said:

“It is a little known fact higher education is one of the sectors of the economy most impacted by insecure work. As many as 77,000 out of a total university workforce of approximately 180,000 are employed as a casual or sessional basis.”

“The evidence shows more than half of all undergraduate teaching in Australian universities is carried out by casual academic staff.”

“We believe this could increase even further as institutions respond to the federal government’s policy of uncapping of university places.”

“The high level of insecure employment at universities is financial difficult as well as being stressful for the workers concerned. I’ve heard many stories from talented young academics that have left the sector due to the being unable to gain secure employment. It’s a major waste of talent our economy cannot afford.”

Vigil by casual academic staff from Swinburne University of Technology: Thursday, March 22, 12pm, entrance to Melbourne Town Hall.

For more information and to organise to speak to a casual: Andrew Nette, NTEU Media Officer: 0431 217 131

Information about NTEU’s campaign on casual academic employment is available at


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