Home | News | ‘Here to make a statement’: Five Queensland unis set to strike
NTEU Queensland Division Secretary Michael McNally wants to see genuine efforts by university managements on the bargaining table. Picture: Wesley Monts / News Corp Australia.

‘Here to make a statement’: Five Queensland unis set to strike

Staff at five of Queensland's largest universities have announced plans to strike tomorrow as part ongoing industrial action to call for higher pay and improved workplace conditions.

On Thursday, hundreds of staff from Queensland University, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, James Cook and Central Queensland University will walk off the job.

This comes as the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) ramps up industrial action over 'dragging bargaining agreements with employers.'

“We're tired of the way university managements delay, stall, don't engage with our key claims and don't bargain properly until we start taking industrial action” NTEU Queensland Secretary Michael McNally told Campus Review.

The coordinated strike will take place simultaneously in different locations with JCU and CQU striking locally, while UQ, QUT and Griffith will join forces in a rally at King George Square in Brisbane. 

Additionally, union members from University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Southern Queensland and ACU are expected to join.

McNally said participating universities wished to make a statement to university management and draw attention to poor workplace conditions.

"People are always shocked when I tell them that if you work at a public university you are far more likely to be employed casually than if you work at Coles or Woolies," he said.

McNally said he believes university business models are built on 'cheap casual labour', leading to ‘easy’ wage theft and excessive workloads for staff.

“It is unreasonable for universities to continue to operate in this corporate manner where every decision is an economic decision, not an educational one where staff are the last considerations, not the first,” he said. 

The industrial action will support NTEU bargaining claims for a reduced workload, a pay increase with a focus on improved job security.

The NTEU believes universities could reduce casualization “if they wanted to," particularly given high cost-of-living and inflation.

McNally suggested Queensland universities follow the example of Western Sydney University, which moved 25 per cent of its casual workforce into permanent jobs earlier this year. 

“We want to see a significant number of staff converted to ongoing positions, we know that if they want, they can do it and they can afford it; the staff are there," he said.

Queensland University of Technology staff member Kyle will be joining the rally because he is “fed up with penny-pinching by unaccountable leaders at QUT”. 

“The last five years have led demonstrably to a degradation in conditions, experiences and outcomes for staff and students," he said.  

University of Queensland staff member Martin Webster said he “loves his job” but was “sick and tired of letting hard work become executives’ bonuses”.

“I can’t keep standing idly by while the university sector prioritises new managers and executives, while leaving operational staff like us to pick up the slack,” he said.

“We need to stop letting the university use our goodwill so they can buy buildings and investments.”

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