The union movement has lost its way.
Rather than concentrate on where power lies they have become tied up in economic rationalist ideas of efficiency and not with what matters to people.
Union membership has been in decline for 30 years.
Jobs are contract based and the notion of a permanent job is lost.
Employers refuse to bear the cost of decent conditions and look to government to bail them out of responsibilites like parental leave, to supplement inadequate wages with social security and family allowances.
After years of falling behind, workers at the University of Queensland have said enough is enough and decided to take a stand and commence rolling strike action supported by the National Tertiary Education Union NTEU. They are fighting for a collective agreement with their employer, the University of Queensland.
On the day of the first stoppage this is what the Australian Council of Trade Unions ACTU Secretary, Jeff Lawrence, had to say about where power lies:
After Jeff Lawrence’s talk dissappointed economist and union member at UQ said that Labor have not seen through economic rationalism.
The university of Queensland is one of the most conservative Universities in the Western world.
This is what its HR people have to say about the strike.
On Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM, the University of Queensland HR representative, Maurie McNarn AO Executive Director (Operations) wrote:
Further to the email of last week about the proposed industrial action by some staff who are members of the National Tertiary Education Union, I can advise that some classes may be affected this week in the Schools of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, Education, Political Science and International Relations, and Economics. Some classes in
other schools may be affected next week, and we will keep you informed.
The University condemns this action by a very small group of staff, because they are targeting students. Only 140 out of a current staff of well over 8,000 voted on this action. The NTEU is only one of five unions involved in enterprise agreement negotiations, is not representative of staff, is out of touch with the realities of the University and clearly does not care about the impact of their irresponsible actions on students. The vast majority of UQ staff are committed to the teaching
and learning of their students.
The University has made a fair and reasonable pay offer to staff of a 17% cumulative increase over 4 years, plus a range of other improved benefits which are significantly above community standards. We have paid and will be paying salary increases to all staff irrespective of these NTEU actions and, despite what the NTEU might say, the University is not in a position to increase its offer.
Please contact your School or Faculty Office if your classes are affected by this industrial action. The University again regrets any inconvenience to students by those staff who choose to strike, and will do what it can to assist you if you are affected.
Maurie McNarn AO
Executive Director (Operations)