Strikes ahead at UWS

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National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Western Sydney will begin rolling strikes from Friday after members voted to recommence protected action.

The decision follows the breakdown of negotiations for a new enterprise Agreement at the university after it, according to the NTEU, refused to address key issues such as pay, academic workload, and long service leave provisions.

The NTEU said in a statement this afternoon that the UWS executive did not respond to the NTEU’s request to hold further discussions to resolve the impasse.

Despite increased workloads, rising costs of living, and a 2013 UWS budget allocation for staff wage increases, staff have not had a wage increase in 21 months, according to the NTEU.

“UWS academics have some of the highest workloads in the sector, and we have seen staff in various schools with teaching loads that impact on both student experience and research output,” said Jan Falloon, Branch President of NTEU UWS Branch.

In a statement, the NTEU said: “The bargaining process for a new enterprise agreement commenced in November 2012 but was frustrated throughout 2013 when UWS management appointed external lawyers who had limited knowledge of the university.”

“UWS has an important commitment to the western Sydney community; promoting quality education that is accessible to those who live in the area,” Ms Falloon said.

“However, it appears that the management of the university think they can achieve this off the back of increasing staff workloads and underpaying their staff.

“NTEU members know the changes at UWS are unsustainable, and staff are concerned about the quality of education for students in western Sydney if these issues are not recognised and resolved now.”

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