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Macquarie staff to strike

The Australian     |     10 March 2014

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nteu-logoNTEU members at Macquarie University are striking on Tuesday 11 March for more permanent and early career academic staff to address casualisation and ensure fairer workloads.

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Management has offered staff a 9 % pay rise over three years in a proposal largely in line with recent agreements elsewhere in the sector of around 3 per cent a year. But the union is seeking 11% over three-and-a-half years, or just over 3.1% a year.

The key disagreement is over the NTEU’s national campaign to get universities to convert more casual positions into permanent teaching-focused roles that it has dubbed “teaching scholars.”

At Macquarie the NTEU initially pushed for the university to create 60 such positions over three years.

Macquarie University NTEU Branch President, Cathy Rytmeister,  said the university had offered to create 24 positions, but these would be a mix of teaching scholars and fixed-term appointments that can convert into permanent positions.

The union is now asking the university to effectively double that offer with 24 teaching scholars and 24 convertible fixed term appointments.

According to 2012 department of education data, about 26 per cent of Macquarie’s full time equivalent academic staff is casual, compared with an average of 21 per cent across the sector.

Rytmeister said that staffing levels and casualisation had been a sticking point from the very beginning of negotiations.

 The NTEU has made it clear from the beginning that the current staffing arrangements are unsustainable. Rising student to staff ratios, increasing workloads, and insecure employment all combine to threaten student experience, teaching quality and research output.

Macquarie University has one of the highest rates of casualisation in the country. This is why we have called for the creation of more permanent and early career academic roles at the University..

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