University of Wollongong staff will strike for 24 hours next week, as they push for more secure working conditions.
National Tertiary Education Union branch president Associate Professor Georgine Clarsen, said Tuesday’s industrial action comes after university management allegedly attempted to “coerce and bully” staff not to take part.
There were a few times I was in hospital for cancer treatment and I couldn’t get pay,Bega campus tutor Dr Annie Werner
She is asking Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings to “step in” and help negotiations, and “not hide in his office behind his HR managers who are pursuing such an aggressive agenda”.
“It’s not for big profit, it’s an educational place and they need to invest in people,” she said.
“Over the last eight months we have repeatedly asked our Vice-Chancellor to step in, it’s our first industrial action for 14 years, and we just want to get this agreement done. It’s not that hard.”
Meanwhile, the university said it “looks forward to continuing to engage in genuine, good faith bargaining with staff and their representatives in accordance with Australian workplace law”.
A university spokesperson said bargaining meetings are scheduled over the coming weeks.
“The university remains committed to working towards achieving enterprise agreements that ensure the university is a viable and sustainable organisation into the future; promote inclusive and equitable work practices; and provide supportive and flexible career pathways for staff,” the spokesperson said.
According to the university’s own key sustainability indicator, its 2017 annual report states the institution was “well above” its own target.
During her 13 years teaching at the university, Vice-Chancellor’s Award winner Dr Annie Werner, who received her bachelors degree, masters and PhD from UOW, says she has never been offered anything more than a casual contract.
“There were a few times I was in hospital for cancer treatment and I couldn’t get pay,” the Bega campus tutor said.
While she is paid for a 12 hour week of tutorials, Dr Werner said she often actually works 40 hours to meet her students’ demands.
“It’s basically a full-time job, and that’s because I care. I know the university doesn’t consider this my career, but it is my career,” she said.
Dr Werner said Professor Wellings told her during her during an award ceremony the university would not be what it is without the work of its casual staff.
She said she has seen 15 full-time staff members in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts dwindle to just three.