Sydney Uni: Opposing the VC’s Coronavirus Austerity

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We call on the University Executive to:

  • Withdraw the proposed freeze on new appointments and contract renewals;
  • Make immediate commitments to ensure that casual staff are paid wages that have been promised;
  • Engage in genuine dialogue with staff and student representative bodies about appropriate non-staff-related savings to address any shortfalls;
  • Guarantee pay for casual staff who are unable to attend work due to illness or self-isolation requirements.

In response to coronavirus, management wants to impose a range of austerity measures across the university. If these measures are implemented, ordinary staff-members will pay the greatest price.

  • Casual staff suddenly face drastic income cuts, with promised work disappearing and
    future work being reviewed.
  • Fixed-term staff contracts will not be renewed unless they are externally-funded. In a workforce where over 3500 staff are on fixed-term contracts, freezing renewals will be disastrous.
  • Overworked colleagues will experience sky-rocketing workloads as a result of the jobs-freeze on all new hires. Outsourcing essential work through labour-hire firms, which has already been proposed in some areas, is no solution.

The University has significant financial reserves to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. At the end of 2018, it had over $1.5b in financial assets. It also has substantial borrowing capacity at low interest rates. In a situation of revenue shortfall, there are many other alternatives to making us pay.

While the austerity measures include some sensible cuts to new capital expenditure and corporate consultants, Michael Spence’s all-staff message didn’t even mention a decrease to his own and other executives’ bonuses: when the chips are down, apparently austerity doesn’t apply to managers on mega-salaries.

Management must not be allowed to respond to the Coronavirus in a way that escalates overwork and intensifies job-insecurity.

Join us for two crucial actions on March 17 and March 26! You don’t have to be a member to attend either event.

  • The NTEU has called an all-staff meeting for 1pm on Tuesday March 17 in New Law LT 101 to share info about the impacts of austerity, to develop proposals of our own, and discuss how to oppose management’s plans most effectively.
  • Then, on Wednesday March 25 at 1pm, we are holding a lunchtime demonstration outside F23 to show management that we won’t let coronavirus be used as a pretext to degrade our jobs.

No jobs-freeze – full payment for all casuals – genuine consultation – no labour-hire