Australian university union elections point to seething discontent


Australian university union elections point to seething discontent

Mike Head

11 September 2018

Results of recent National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) elections indicate deepening hostility among Australia university workers toward the sellouts being imposed by the trade union, on top of its decades of presiding over deteriorating conditions.

The elections took place amid an escalating assault on university staff and students, with class sizes soaring, permanent full-time jobs being eliminated, student fees and loan repayments rising, and courses and research being subordinated to the requirements of the corporate ruling class.

The Liberal-National government is stripping billions of dollars from the public universities, compounding the impact of the $3 billion slashed by the previous Greens-backed Labor government. The NTEU, absolutely opposed to any unified struggle against this offensive, is instead frantically pushing through regressive enterprise agreements (EAs) with individual universities to assist each one to impose these cuts, at the expense of staff and students alike.

Already, according to the latest Education Department statistics, 46 percent of the academic workforce is in insecure forms of employment. This casualisation has been assisted by the NTEU’s introduction of a new “Scholarly Teaching Fellow” classification in 2013. As of February 2018, almost 700 such teaching-intensive positions had been created, further undermining the research role of academics.

In a bid to head off the rising disaffection, and divert it back into the hands of the NTEU, pseudo-left candidates claimed they could “democratise” and “renew” the union. None of them opposed the pro-management record or perspective of the union, however.

More than a third—37…

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