Curtin curtails free speech in desperate bid to cut wages

National Tertiary Education Union

Curtin University has restricted free speech on campus, censoring posts of media articles and a union website designed to inform staff about an insulting pay offer

The National Tertiary Education Union has been urging staff to vote against a real wages pay cut in a ballot that runs from February 10 to 16.

The University has offered staff an average annual pay rise of 2.2 per cent over five years.

Inflation in Perth was 8.3 per cent in the last quarter. Curtin posted a $113 million surplus last year.

After media reported on the dispute, staff found news stories being deleted from the social networking platform Yammer, which is used internally at Curtin.

The union’s website informing staff about the facts of the offer was temporarily blocked from Curtin University WiFi or LAN connections.

Curtin’s own freedom of speech policy states its purpose as:

“To ensure that the freedom of lawful speech of staff and students of the University and visitors to the University is treated as a paramount value and therefore is not restricted nor its exercise unnecessarily burdened by restrictions or burdens other than those imposed by law or referred to in this Policy.”

NTEU Curtin Branch President Professor Scott Fitzgerald said:

“In my view, blatant censorship has no place at Curtin or any other university.

“Staff have been shocked and outraged by management’s attempt to suppress information in the middle of voting on an insulting pay offer.

“Curtin management appears to be trying to hide the NTEU’s position and proposals to improve the salary and working conditions of staff. Why?

“That’s exactly why it’s crucial staff vote ‘no’ to this offer, and management comes back to negotiations on a fair pay rise that better keeps up with the soaring cost of living.”

NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said:

“This is a seemingly egregious attack on free speech which shows the desperate lengths Curtin management is willing to go to in order to ram through a real wages pay cut.

“Management has been posting material telling staff to vote for its terrible pay offer, yet blocks the union’s information about what this proposal will really mean.

“Freedom of speech must be paramount in universities. Instead, Curtin management appears to have resorted to censorship because it doesn’t want staff to know the truth about its real wages pay cut.”

/Public Release.