OVERWORKED: SCU Marketing Publications Manager Jenny Austin is one of those threatening strike action over conditions at the university.
OVERWORKED: SCU Marketing Publications Manager Jenny Austin is one of those threatening strike action over conditions at the university. Jay Cronan

SCU staff to join national strike

NATIONAL Tertiary Education Union members at Southern Cross Univerty (SCU) will join university workers around the country in industrial action, expected to result in a strike later this month.

The strike will be in support of a collective agreement aimed at improving heavy workloads, and better security and career planning for casual members.

University marketing publications manager Jenny Austin often has to physically handle distribution as well 'because there simply aren't enough store staff to get materials out as quickly as we need'.

Ms Austin said the action was particularly pertinent to SCU because it had one of the nation's highest casual staff rates.

A total 64 per cent of union members at the university voted to pursue enterprise bargaining and a majority said 'yes' to all forms of industrial action proposed.

Senior lecturer Dr Grant Cairncross said the issue of casual job security further impacted on local PhD students who were struggling to find stable jobs.

“What we want is an increase in pay that reflects skills and qualifications. For example, we'd like to see academics' pay be brought up to that of CSIRO employees,” Dr Cairncross said.

“It's only fair.

“For the past 14 years staff have just been loaded up. It has got to a point where staff can't take it anymore and the turnover rate is affecting quality of education,” he said.

SCU staff is set to join workers around the country on a national day of action on September 16 and unless conditions are met, may continue striking into early October.

The first day of action was planned for the last day of lectures, timed to minimise impact on students. However, Dr Cairnross warned if no progress was made, strike action may eventually run to early October, resulting in cancelled classes.

Despite having been lumped with shorter semesters last month, SCU External and Undergraduate Student Union president Nathan Apps said the students were in favour of action.



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