Staff at Bega’s University of Wollongong campus are demanding better and more secure working conditions.
Tutor and PhD student Jodie Stewart said the two hours of industrial action on Wednesday was aimed at gaining “fair pay, secure work and respect” after 94 per cent of members voted to strike.
It’s quite telling here in the Bega campus where there’s only two permanent academic staff.Lecturer Siobhan Wragg
The National Tertiary Education Union said after more than six months of negotiations, university management is proposing to “diminish” current working conditions, and refusing to meet member’s “expectations”.
In September, Fairfax Media reported on the return to work of Dr Annie Werner just four days after breast cancer surgery, despite 13 years working with the institution.
“We’re campaigning because 70 per cent of staff are on casual contracts, and in regional campuses it is much higher. It is a good opportunity for us to talk about this because many students don’t know their tutors are on short-term 13-week casual contracts,” Ms Stewart said.
Lecturer Siobhan Wragg said many staff members often don’t know if their contract will be renewed until the last minute.
“It’s quite telling here in the Bega campus where there’s only two permanent academic staff,” she said.
Teacher education coordinator Dr Sue Duchesne said regional campuses typically outperform the metropolitan campus academically and in student satisfaction surveys.
“The university doesn’t value the staff producing these results,” she said.
Ms Stewart said even as an undergraduate she witnessed talented tutors leave the field “due to the conditions and the terrible arrangement”.
“We want to have secure work with sick leave and holiday pay,” she said.
“If you want to provide a good quality education you have to invest in your staff.”
History and sociology student Tas Fitzer said the university is “lucky to have “phenomenal, intelligent, hard working tutors”.
“If they aren’t given the job security they deserve we’ll lose their talented minds,” he said.
The university has been contacted for comment.