Media releases

National Higher Education Action Network

Media release

5.30pm August 24 2020 – immediate release

MASS MEETING OF UNIVERSITY STAFF VOTES TO OPPOSE FUNDING REFORMS AND COMMITS TO PLANNING UNPROTECTED INDUSTRIAL ACTION

With Parliament returning, an unprecedented mass online meeting of hundreds of national university staff today has voted to oppose the federal government’s university funding reforms and aim towards unprotected industrial action in defence of universities. 

The meeting was attended by 460 people at its peak.

The following motion was overwhelmingly passed:

“This assembly of academic, professional, ongoing, precarious, employed and currently out-of-work university staff:

1.     Asserts that higher education is a vital public good and should not be treated as a competitive market.

2.   Demands the Federal Government uphold higher education’s value by redirecting funds from unnecessary military and other expenditure towards:

          – Guaranteeing jobs, wages and conditions for all staff;

        – Radically reducing in the immediate term Australian universities’ rates of casualisation through conversion of precarious staff to ongoing employment, in order to achieve a fully funded higher education system free of precarious and exploitative work conditions;

        – Providing accessible education for all by financially supporting students rather than burdening them with debt.

3.   Opposes cuts to university funding proposed by the Minister for Education, Dan Tehan.

4.     Endorses:

–  The National Union of Students rally against fee hikes this Friday August 28th;

–  The School Strike for Climate day of action on September 25th;

and calls for the widest possible participation of university staff in both demonstrations.

5. Commits to:

–  Building a diverse national network of university workers across state, institutional, and employment divisions that aims to strengthen every campaign and resist austerity in the sector;

–  Mounting a vigorous campaign of coordinated actions with the goal of making democratically planned unprotected industrial action possible so as to defend universities from funding cuts and protect all university jobs;

–  Building a major demonstration involving NTEU, NUS, and secondary school student groups before the government’s Budget in October;

and calls on the NTEU and other unions to support these rank-and-file actions in order to help mobilise branches for them.”

The event, the National University Staff Assembly, was put on by a new organisation, the National Higher Education Action Network (NHEAN), a collective of national university staff.  

The Assembly was the first national meeting of this kind ever held, and the call to plan towards unprotected strike action represents a significant escalation in the opposition to the government’s refusal to support universities either through the pandemic or beyond it.

More information and comments: Nick Riemer 0481 339 937, n_riemer@yahoo.com

Web: https://nhean.info

Twitter: @NHEANetwork

Media release – August 23 2020 – immediate release

HUNDREDS OF UNIVERSITY STAFF TO COMMIT TO OPPOSING TEHAN IN ONLINE ASSEMBLY ON MONDAY

Around 600 higher education staff have registered to meet online on August 24, the day federal parliament returns, to debate a motion of opposition to the government’s planned higher education reforms, and call for national industrial action as part of the campaign to secure adequate government funding for universities.

The event, the National University Staff Assembly, has been organised by a new organisation, the National Higher Education Action Network (NHEAN). The Assembly will debate and vote on a formal motion demanding guarantees of job security for university staff, the conversion of casually employed staff to ongoing work, and financial support for students that does not burden them with tax debt. The motion states the belief ‘that unprotected industrial action will be necessary’ as part of the ‘vigorous campaign’ NHEAN is initiating to defend universities from funding cuts and to protect all university jobs.

The Assembly, which is open to all university workers, will be the first national meeting of this kind ever held. Around 600 hundred people have indicated that they will be attending. Speakers at the assembly include Professor Devleena Ghosh (UTS) and Dr Robert Boncardo (University of Sydney).

While other groups have published statements, petitions and open letters opposing the reforms and demanding federal support for universities, and the NTEU has started a lobbying campaign, the NHEAN Assembly is the only large-scale, live public event being planned to defend university education and jobs. It has been endorsed by some of the largest NTEU branches in the country, at the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney, Monash, RMIT, UTS, ANU and Federation University Australia, as well as by postgraduate, undergraduate and casuals’ associations.

The assembly will be held from 2-3.30pm on Monday August 24 via Zoom. Speeches will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/NHEAction and a briefing for the media will be held afterwards at which organisers and participants will be available for interview.

Further information and comment: Nick Riemer 0481 339 937, nick.riemer@sydney.edu.au

Web: https://nhean.info

Twitter: @NHEANetwork

Media release – 10.40am August 17 2020 – for immediate release

UNPROTECTED INDUSTRIAL ACTION TO BE DISCUSSED AT MASS MEETING OF UNIVERSITY STAFF

Higher education staff will meet online on August 24, the day federal parliament returns, to debate a motion opposing the government’s proposed higher education reforms, and calling for serious planning of future unprotected national industrial action as part of the campaign to secure adequate government funding for universities.

The event, the National University Staff Assembly, has been organised by a new organisation, the National Higher Education Action Network (NHEAN). The Assembly will debate and vote on a formal motion demanding guarantees of job security for university staff, the conversion of casually employed staff to ongoing work, and financial support for students that does not burden them with tax debt. The motion states the belief that unprotected industrial action will be necessary as part of the ‘vigorous campaign’ NHEAN is initiating to defend universities from funding cuts and to protect all university jobs.

‘Striking is the tried-and-true, principal mechanism for employees to achieve greater justice in their workplaces,’ said Dr Nick Riemer, one of the assembly organisers. ‘It is also recognized as a fundamental right. Reclaiming the ability to strike in a way that avoids the current obstacles to it is essential. This isn’t something we can ask or petition government for: it’s something we have to take. At NHEAN, we believe that a democratically organised and carefully planned national university strike is both politically possible and necessary. We have a plan for this, which we’ll be presenting at the assembly. With careful preparation over time, we think we can overcome the constraints of existing industrial relations legislation and make strike action possible again outside the limits of enterprise agreement negotiations.’

The Assembly, which is open to all university workers, will be the first national meeting of the kind ever held. Over four hundred people have so far indicated that they will be attending.

While other groups have published statements, petitions and open letters opposing the reforms and demanding federal support for universities, and the NTEU has started a lobbying campaign, the NHEAN Assembly is the only large-scale, live public event being planned to defend university education and jobs. It has been endorsed by some of the largest NTEU branches in the country, at the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney, Monash, RMIT, UTS and ANU, as well as by postgraduate and casuals’ associations.

The assembly will be held from 2-3.30pm on Monday August 24 via Zoom.

Further information and comment: Nick Riemer 0481 339 937, nick.riemer@sydney.edu.au

Web: https://nhean.info

Twitter: @NHEANetwork

Media release – August 6 2020 – for immediate release

Hundreds of university staff holding National Assembly to call for federal support for universities and oppose Tehan reforms

With universities across the country announcing job cuts, an unprecedented national event will see hundreds of higher education staff coming together to call for proper federal funding support on August 24, the day federal parliament returns.

The event, the National University Staff Assembly, has been organised by a new organisation, the National Higher Education Action Network (NHEAN). The Assembly will debate and vote on a ­formal motion of opposition both to government’s failure to support universities and the Education Minister’s plans to radically transform the cost of degrees.

The Assembly, which is open to all university workers, will be the first national meeting of this kind ever held. So far over four hundred people have indicated that they will be attending.

As well as passing a motion of opposition to Tehan’s reforms and calling for the preservation of jobs and conditions for casualised, fixed-term, and ongoing staff, the Assembly will hear and discuss plans for further actions to campaign for federal support for universities. On its website, NHEAN describes its intention as being ‘to build an organising movement that can, with careful preparation over time, overcome the obstacles of existing industrial relations legislation, and take actions up to and including strike action, to press for the funding arrangements that universities, and society, need.’

While other groups have published statements, petitions and open letters opposing the reforms and demanding federal support for universities, and the NTEU has started a lobbying campaign, the NHEAN Assembly is the only large-scale, live public event being planned to defend university education and jobs. It has been endorsed by some of the largest NTEU branches in the country, at the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney, Monash, RMIT and UTS, as well as by postgraduate and casuals’ associations.

Assembly organisers say that a motion of opposition at a national meeting, voted on by university staff themselves, will be a powerful statement that the Education Minister does not enjoy the confidence of the university sector, and will provide support to opponents of the funding reform in and outside parliament. In a context of mass job losses across the country, organisers say that the need for university staff to speak out collectively has never been greater.

The assembly will be held from 2-3.30pm on Monday August 24 via Zoom.

Further information and comment: Nick Riemer 0481 339 937, nick.riemer@sydney.edu.au

Web: https://nhean.info

Twitter: @NHEANetwork