Victoria University staff protest for “fair pay”


This week Victoria University (VU) staff launched a protest rally targeting university management over what they’ve described as a lack of a fair pay rise.

A petition expressing staff, student and alumni “outrage about Gaza” was also cited as driving the protest.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members rallied outside a university council meeting chaired by VU chancellor Steve Bracks at the university’s Footscray campus from 8-9am on Tuesday, May 28.

NTEU said despite the university receiving the union’s claims more than a year ago, VU management has failed to make a “concrete offer” on pay and working conditions.

NTEU said unmanageable workloads are a major sticking point, with VU’s teaching model and recent job cuts that resulted in almost 20 per cent of staff leaving putting enormous pressure on staff.

VU’s “block model” teaches students one semester-length subject in four weeks blocks rather than multiple units concurrently, compared to the majority of other university’s in Australia.

NTEU VU branch president Brandy Cochrane said Mr Bracks must bring senior management into line and ensure the university’s top decision makers “get serious about a real pay offer”.

“Enough is enough,” Mr Cochrane said.

“Staff have endured hundreds of colleagues leaving, an unsafe teaching model and a cost-of-living crisis, yet management clearly thinks they don’t deserve to be paid fairly.

“Instead of trying to resolve the issues, management is playing for time and not sending anyone with real decision-making power to talk about staff’s reasonable claims.”

A Victoria University spokesperson said the university is committed to modernising the current agreement and it is negotiating with employee representatives in “good faith” to achieve a further competitive salary increase and new leave entitlements for staff.

“In March staff were given a 4 per cent salary increase in recognition of their contribution and ongoing commitment to putting our students at the heart of everything we do,” the spokesperson said,

“We are proud of our award-winning teaching model, which has become central to the success of our students.”

NTEU Victorian division secretary Sarah Roberts said staff need a fair pay rise, reasonable workloads and secure jobs.

“Under VU’s model, staff are being forced to work huge hours of unpaid overtime just to get marking and course administration done,” Ms Roberts said.