Higher education workers support teachers in their fight against casualisation
This comes as proposed NSW government reforms will hand control of staffing to local principals, allowing them to replace long-serving, permanent teachers with casual and short-term arrangements.
NSW Teachers Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, is concerned recent graduates will be exploited to achieve a cheaper workforce. He said:
“What we will have is a totally deregulated staffing structure, with an increasing number of temporary positions, no incremental pay scale and no guaranteed executive structure."
''The department and the minister see this as a golden time. They can exploit the fact there are a lot of young people coming in and a cheaper workforce. But they can also change the culture by putting them on short-term or casual arrangements. We're extremely worried about the future of the profession.''
The attacks facing NSW teachers are similar to those faced by higher education staff. Our sector has already seen a dramatic increase in precarious employment, with as many as 77,000 staff in Australian universities employed as casuals. Large-scale casualisation has begun to undermine the sustainability of the academic profession in Australia.
We estimate more than half of undergraduate teaching is carried out by casual academics who are employed by the teaching hour. Fewer than 40% of academic staff are permanently employed—yet there is clearly permanent work to be done.
Young academics are leaving the sector due to the financial and emotional stress involved in precarious employment. Our casual members report that they struggle to plan for the future on sessional work, lacking the conditions and security of permanent staff. They are often worried about securing their next casual contract.
There is nothing casual about education. Education provides enormous social and economic benefit and Australia needs a vibrant and well-resourced education sector to meet our future challenges. This cannot be achieved in a sector reliant on casual labour.
It is heartening to see that the ACTU’s Secure Jobs, Better Future campaign has begun to focus public attention on the problem of precarious employment—and we urge all NTEU members to support this campaign. However, there is still a long way to go.
NTEU has long campaigned against increasing casualisation and we will continue to take up this fight. We will work with our members—and other unions, such as the NSW Teachers Federation—to fight for secure forms of employment.
We stand with the NSW Teachers Federation in opposing these and other attacks on education.
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