UTS staff strike for second time as students speak out | #students | #parents

Student activists standing in solidarity with staff holding banners up at UTS strike. Photo: Christine Lai.


UTS Staff went on strike for a second round of industrial action on Wednesday morning amidst the ongoing fight for a pay rise above inflation and fair working conditions. 

UTS Education Officer Cat Doherty described the “first-hand impact of casualisation” on her learning where most tutors are overworked and don’t have the resources or time to adequately teach.  

For one of Doherty’s subjects, the release of her assessment marks was delayed by weeks due to understaffed tutors in the faculty. She criticised the absence of “proper marking contracts” which resulted in a lack of protections for staff and was a leading cause in the exploitation of staff.  

Doherty mentioned the disarray of course cuts which left some subjects with “staff made to choose between not teaching some weeks or only having one-hour classes.”  

“The ‘Issues in Indigenous Australian Education’ subject was cut down from 3 hours to 1.5 hours. UTS has cut class times to avoid paying staff with many classes being replaced by these so-called flipped self-directed learning weeks”, Doherty said.  

 Class sizes grow and tutors left with minimal paid marking hours

UTS Education Action Group activist Macka Brayan looked to the recent strike action at the University of Sydney where he stood on the picket lines and described NTEU staff as being the “leading edge in union militancy in Australia.” 

UTS Education Action Group Activist Macka Brayan delivering a speech on strike action across NSW. Photo: Christine Lai.

Brayan referenced an email circulated by UTS in September 2020 where management “were crying poor saying they projected millions of dollars in losses for the next few years” but had turned a surplus “in excess of $100 million this year”.  

“They’ve made cuts to employment, courses, services, and a general worsening of casualisation rates. All of this in addition to the erosion of working conditions so that management can squeeze out more of their employees for no extra pay,” Brayan said.  

Brayan stated that class sizes at UTS have been “massively inflated but many are yet to return to campus” which has resulted in a majority of students paying “premium prices for what are essentially YouTube degrees in many cases”.  

Professional staff member and former UTS student Tilly Fay stated that she was “all too familiar” with the eroding quality of education at tertiary institutions having experienced “both sides”, as a student and now, staff member.  

Fay thanked the students who had come to stand in solidarity with striking staff and other representatives from unions including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).  

“When we go on strike, we’re doing so to defend the quality of education at UTS. We want job security for every single person who doesn’t have it yet, and the university are signalling that thy 

Fay mentioned the cost-of-living-crisis where workers across all industries are “feeling the pinch” and condemned the conditions at UTS where staff had been getting a “real wage cut for over a year now”.  

Pay rise of 1.75% deemed “insulting”

NTEU members criticised the university for taking advantage of the goodwill of the staff and academics en masse.  

Last week, UTS management announced their administrative pay rise of 1.75%. Fay described this offer as “not just stingy, it’s insulting”.  

“The pay offer that is currently on the table is completely insufficient. We’re fighting for a pay rise that shows respect for the people who work here”, she said. 

UTS NTEU Branch President Sarah Attfield condemned the unpaid labour that staff are forced to undertake to do the work they’re supposed to.  

Attfield declared that the current work experience by most staff at UTS was not sustainable long-term, “Casual academics don’t just teach, they are currently under a precarious employment which has a terrible impact on their wellbeing.”  

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