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Issue #1553      27 June 2012

Union call time on growth of casual employment in universities

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) will use the upcoming higher education enterprise bargaining round to create 2,000 new ongoing jobs for casual academics, better regulate escalating workloads and improve conditions and career advancement for professional staff in universities.

“Over half of academic teaching in universities is now undertaken by people paid by the hour,” said NTEU president, Jeannie Rea.

“This growth in casualisation is the dirty secret of Australian higher education, which now threatens to undermine the quality of our university system. We intend to use the upcoming enterprise bargaining round to call time on this.”

A key feature of the log of claims the union will be serving on all universities is the creation of 2,000 new ongoing jobs, to substantially and permanently reduce the unacceptably high level of casual academic employment.

That is approximately 20 percent of the academic casuals working in universities, based on the government’s own figures. “We want to provide opportunities for career advancement for younger academics locked out of the system,”

Other major claims agreed to at a two-day meeting of NTEU representatives from universities across Australia last week include:

  • Improving career progression and classification procedures for professional staff. This is in recognition of the increasing amount and complexity of work faced by professional staff.
  • Further increases in Indigenous employment based on binding Indigenous employment strategies and targets.
  • Enforceable regulation of academic and professional staff workloads.
  • Provision for employees who are dealing with the consequences of domestic violence.
  • A 7% per annum flat annual salary increase over four years. This is to compensate for cost of living increases, productivity gains and to maintain domestic and international competitiveness.

“Work intensification is a growing problem for academic and professional staff across the sector,” said Rea. “The clearest indication of this has been the growth in the number of students attending university.

“We understand the financial health of individual institutions differs across the higher education sector. But we believe that not only can universities choose to meet these claims, it is in their interests to do so to ensure their most valuable resource, their staff, get the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.”  

Next article – Vic teachers to continue industrial action

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