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Unnecesasary strike hits students hard.

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Media Release


16 October, 2003 MIN 486/03

More than 700,000 university students due to commence end of year exams in three weeks will be disadvantaged today by a pointless and unnecessary strike by university staff.

Furthermore many university staff will be striking today based on false information which has been spread by union leaders.

Union leaders have claimed that the main reason they are promoting a strike is because the Australian Government plans to ‘force’ academics to sign Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).

“The Government’s requirements do not deal with the real workplace issues facing academics and general staff, said McCulloch, indeed the requirements, including forcing university staff onto Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) and lifting limits on casual employment, will make the situation worse...”(emphasis added)

Grahame McCulloch NTEU General Secretary, NTEU Media Release, October 9, 2003

Claims that AWAs will be forced on university staff are not, and have never been, correct.

The Government remains committed to the view that genuine choice should be available for all Australians, including university staff.

Institutions are expected to allow their staff to take up Australian Workplace Agreements or individual contracts if they choose. Equally, staff members must be free to choose union negotiated agreements, not be forced into one form of employment arrangement over another.

If not one staff member at any university decides to take up the offer of an AWA or individual contract, that is their right.

What the Government does object to is someone being denied the opportunity to exercise that choice. If a staff member would like to negotiate an AWA or individual contract, that staff member should have that option. Equally they should be free to be represented by their union.

Our universities are on a collision course with mediocrity.

If Australia is to continue to enjoy a world class higher education system, change and investment is urgently required. The Howard Government reform package seeks to inject an additional $1.5 billion in new funds into universities, and also seeks to bring the way universities operate into the 21st century.

Media Contact: Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095