Swinburne University of Technology has taken the extraordinary step of standing down teachers who are taking industrial action, sparking outrage from the Victorian Branches of the National Tertiary Education Union and Australian Education Union. NTEU and AEU TAFE members have been campaigning for a decent pay rise and superannuation in line with their fellow Swinburne workers for almost two years. TAFE teachers working at the Croydon, Wantirna and Hawthorn campuses, have been engaging in limited work bans as part of the long-running fight for a fair outcome in bargaining. Swinburne on Friday took the radical step of standing down all members engaging in the industrial action without pay. “These are outrageous and unacceptable actions from Swinburne management,” NTEU Victorian Division Assistant Secretary Sarah Roberts said. “We urge the University to drop its attack on staff and immediately return to the bargaining table so we can work on a constructive agreement. “It’s shocking university management would resort to such extreme tactics in response to a basic request for workers to receive a fair pay rise and superannuation in line with their colleagues. “Standing down teachers deliberately harms students. It’s astounding Swinburne would take this step knowing full well students will pay the price for management’s refusal to engage constructively with the unions.”
Australian Education Union Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace called the move by Swinburne disgraceful and condemned the university for resorting to bullying employer tactics.
“Our members want to pursue this in good faith through bargaining, but university management have completely disregarded this, refusing to make an offer which respects teachers and addresses their concerns.
“Instead, they have resorted to intimidating their staff with threats that ultimately have consequences for the students.
“Standing down staff will stop TAFE courses being delivered at Swinburne because students will not have teachers to deliver them.
“It’s astounding that Swinburne would rather stand down its hardworking and incredibly crucial staff than provide them with fair and reasonable pay, superannuation, and other important conditions.
“The university has left us in a difficult position by escalating the matter to this extent. We have no option but to undertake legal action if they do not withdraw their notice and return to the bargaining table.”
NTEU and AEU members’ work bans have included not doing extra duties on top of those set out in the position description, not recording student attendance, not attending meetings and not using online systems.