||Issue No. 200||24 October 2003|
The Hard Yards
Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Unions: National Focus
Industrial: Fools Gold
Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
History: The Gong Show
Politics: The Hawke Legacy
International: Sick Nation
Economics: Closed Minds
Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
Poetry: One Size Fits All
The Locker Room
Advance Australia Where?
God Save Us All
US Seeking Aussie Info
Call The Doctor
Bring Back Gough
Bring Back Social Democracy
Look East, Look West
Academics Appeal to International Umpire
Seven trade unions covering university staff throughout Australia struck last week as part of an ongoing protest against proposals to tie $404 million in education funding to hard-line industrial requirements.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said that the unions yesterday referred the requirements to the ILO's Committee of Experts as a breach of Article 4 of ILO Convention 98 on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.
"The Government's requirements would take away the basic rights of university workers and undermine their wages and conditions," says Burrow.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Dr Carolyn Allport said that universities and unions should be allowed to get on with the job of enterprise bargaining without interference from the Government.
"Stripping back standards on redundancy, termination and workplace consultation will do nothing to improve the quality of education provided by our universities," says Dr Allport.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Federal Secretary David Carey said that the requirements, on top of declining amounts of funding, would make it more difficult for universities to operate.
"Increased fees and other policy decisions such as making higher education increasingly inaccessible for a growing number of Australian families - especially those on middle to low incomes," says Carey.
Last week's strike, supported by seven higher education unions, was hailed as a success, virtually closing down the entire public university system across the country.
"The success of the strike sends a clear message to the Senate that the vast majority of university staff are opposed to the Government's proposed workplace requirements," says NTEU President Allport.
At least 10,000 general and academic staff, students and members of the public attended rallies and public meetings that were held in all major capital cities to protest the Government's plan.
Only one arrest was reported, a Liberal student who tried to disrupt the rally in Melbourne.
Victory at ANU
At the Australian National University over 800 staff attended a meeting at which Vice Chancellor Ian Chubb signed a three-year enterprise bargaining agreement with the NTEU, which did not incorporate any of the Government's proposed workplace requirements.
"This agreement is a victory for patient, cooperative negotiation between unions and management over the bullying, interventionist tactics being championed by the Federal Government," says Grahame McCulloch, NTEU General Secretary.
"It is a rejection by both ANU management and the NTEU, of the Government's unwarranted and highly prescriptive interference in the internal affairs of universities and the Government's attempts to substitute its own industrial policies for those of universities."
The agreement repudiates the main points of the Government's proposed workplace relations requirements for universities, including:
No provision for AWAs.
Limitations on casual and fixed term employment.
26.4 weeks paid parental leave and a 17.5% salary increase.
A strong recognition of the constructive role played by the NTEU in the life of the institution and union rights more generally.
The Agreement also contains an explicit endorsement of the independence of the University.
"Forcing universities to place staff on AWAs, weakening consultative arrangements and encouraging casual employment, will deliver lower pay and conditions and industrial confrontation," said McCulloch.
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