Victoria University staff set to protest over workloads, Gaza

National Tertiary Education Union

Victoria University staff will launch a protest rally targeting Chancellor Steve Bracks as anger rises over a failure to give staff a fair pay rise. A petition expressing staff, student and alumni outrage about Gaza is also driving protest.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members will rally outside a University Council meeting chaired by the former Victorian premier at VU’s Footscray campus on Tuesday from 8am.

Despite receiving the union’s claims more than a year ago, VU management has failed to make a concrete offer on pay and working conditions.

Unmanageable workloads are a major sticking point, with VU’s controversial model and recent job cuts that saw almost 20% of staff leave putting enormous pressure on staff.

Senior Leadership has proved combative. On 24 May, Rechelle Martinez, Head of Operations First Year College accosted NTEU representatives flyering about academic claims, stating “stick it up your clackers you lot, you’re a disgrace, go and do some work.”

VU’s “block model” teaches students one semester-length subject in four weeks at a time rather than multiple units concurrently like at every other university in Australia.

NTEU VU Branch President Brandy Cochrane said:

“Enough is enough.

“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.

“Steve Bracks must bring senior management into line and ensure the university’s top decision makers get serious about a real pay offer.”

NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Sarah Roberts said:

“WorkCover data reveals that VU has had more claims against it in the last two years than any other Victorian university.

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

“Staff need a fair pay rise, reasonable workloads and secure jobs.”

A spokesperson for the VU NTEU Palestine Action Group, Dr Rana Abou-Sinna said:

“Staff, students and alumni expect University leadership to take a strong, principled stance in support of human rights and international law, and condemn the ongoing genocide in Gaza. It is deeply concerning that they have failed to act in the face of such egregious human rights violations.”

/Public Release.