Connect 11 02

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Vol. 11 No. 2 August 2018


Call time on exploitation of casual workers Casuals organise for job security and against underpayments The flood of insecure work Lobbying your MP about insecure work Getting 'Jack' of casual exploitation How casualisation crushes academic debate Taking wage theft off the menu Student evaluation: Between a rock & a hard place

read online at ISSN 1836-8522 (Print)/ISSN 1836-8530 (Online)


More than half of university teaching is done by casually employed staff


Poverty should not be a rite of passage for postgrads


Round 7 bargaining update

4 CDP: .A racist remote work for the dole scheme

12 Join the movement for change 14 Getting 'Jack' of casual .exploitation 15

How casualisation crushes academic debate

16 Taking wage theft off the menu 18 The casual experience tells us it's time for change


Casuals organise for job security and against underpayments

20 Call time on exploitation


Agreements, Awards & the BOOT

22 Student evaluation: .Between a rock & a hard place


Fighting for a profession


Does this ring any bells?

23 North American universities ditching SELTS


NTEU elections and leadership changes

24 The flood of insecure work


Lobbying your MP about insecure work

26 Unlocking the democratic activism of university casuals

10 Bluestocking women change the rules 11

Future of the Sector conference

27 Tax implications for casual staff

Connect is a publication of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). All Rights Reserved Š 2018. ISSN 1836-8522 (Print)/ISSN 1836-8530 (Online)

Editor: Jeannie Rea Production: Paul Clifton For information on Connect, please contact the NTEU National Office: Post: PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Phone: 03 9254 1910 Fax: 03 9254 1915 Email: Web: The views expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors, and not necessarily the official views of NTEU.

In accordance with NTEU policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, this magazine is printed on 100 per cent recycled paper: produced from 65 per cent postconsumer waste and 35 per cent pre-consumer waste.

NTEU Editorial

More than half of university teaching is done by casually employed staff Read this headline again – and again. This statement should be raising alarm bells with senior management, with university councils, with the Federal Government and the Opposition, with employers, with Austrade, with professional accreditation associations, and with all academics. But it does not. Students and their families are concerned about the implications for the quality of their education, as well as for the plight of the casually employed staff. Student activists have been standing up for casual staff on many campuses. Those who may have been considering a university career are thinking again. Years of study and the reward is a ‘career’ cobbled together of academic and professional casual and short term contract work. Rejecting a ‘gig’ work future is not just about ‘uber’ jobs. NTEU is concerned and we have prosecuted claims in enterprise bargaining for new positions to be created from casually employed staff, for conversion, for ECR positions, and for better salaries and conditions. We are opposed every step of the way by university managements in bargaining, and then again when we call upon them to implement promises made in Agreements. They are more interested in extracting even more out of casually employed academics than in developing more secure employment options. They are intent on normalising insecure jobs. 'Sessional costs' are now built into school/course/disciplinary area budgets; some professional development is mandatory (although not necessarily paid); and grudgingly space and facilities are sometimes made available. Payment for marking is a joke, except it is not because you have to keep marking even though your paid time has run out. Is this wage theft? The employer knows they have given you work that they are not paying you to do and yet they expect it to be done. For casually employed academics who also work in hospitality, it probably feels similar (see p. 16). In this round of bargaining, a number of Branches are seeking payment for additional unpaid work (see p. 5). Others are calling time on exploitation of casuals and running a direct campaign getting casuals to record time spent on unremunerated work with the objective of presenting an invoice (see p. 20). Casual academics and limited term contract staff do keep telling their stories, through the pages of Connect, but also through other NTEU platforms. Some have bravely talked to the media and even stood up at sector and public events (see Jenny's story p. 7 and Clare's story p. 19) . It is always impressive and moving, and it is important to listen to the people actually experiencing precarious lives through insecure work. When Jenny Smith spoke at ACTU Congress she put a face to the statistics I had read out. But should the people in the (sometimes literal) firing line have to do all the hard yards? One of our casual activists wanted to come and speak at ACTU Congress too, but she could not afford to miss some hours of teaching, not

just because that is her income, but also because she may forfeit her next casual teaching gig. Two of this edition’s contributors are anonymous because of their fear of repercussions. Jack talked of the constant parsimony of the university in trying to pay him less than they had agreed to (see p. 14). Remember, some of the Vice-Chancellors are taking over $1 million p/a, and surround themselves with similarly well renumerated senior managers. Another contributor wrote of how casualisation is crushing academic debate. They write of being pressured to pass students, of being treated with basically disdain by more securely employed academic staff when they offer their well informed perspectives. Like many others they have faced the ignominy of having to advise ongoing staff, newly allocated to a subject they have been teaching, casually employed, for years (see p. 15). Reading the content of this article should alarm anyone concerned about maintaining the quality of university teaching and the integrity of our disciplines. At ACTU Congress we spoke to the gross levels of insecure work in higher education, through the rubric of the impact on the academic profession (see p. 8). We thought that the data on the sheer numbers of insecure workers along with Jenny’s story would alert the delegates to the magnitude of our problem, and it certainly did (see Paul Kniest's data analysis update on p. 24). However, our extra angle was to address the impact on the future of the profession. Casualisation, accompanied by short term contracts and taylorisation or specialisation is killing off disciplines in our universities. When I have spoken of this in relation to the humanities, I sometimes still get blank faces, but when we say physics and maths discipline groups are also being wound down, at least we get a little more attention. The problem though is across all areas, with particularly emerging disciplinary specialisations being crushed. Those of the academic profession, who are the overloaded but at least more securely employed, have to take on fighting for their profession. Casual academic staff cannot do this, as they do not have the access nor status, nor the time and opportunity. Surely this could be one way to mobilise more academics to participate in our secure jobs campaign. It will be my one of my foci as I return to the sector after eight years as National President. Thank you all for the work you do teaching and supporting students and colleagues – and a particular thank you to our casual activists. There is nothing casual about your determination to fight for a better future.

Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President

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CAPA Column

Poverty should not be a rite of passage for postgrads Postgraduate study is inherently challenging – but not just because of the intellectual work required. For most postgraduate students, financial instability is a major source of stress. According to Universities Australia's 2012 student finances survey – the most recent data available – the median yearly income of a domestic postgraduate coursework student was just $21,200, thousands of dollars below that year’s Henderson poverty line for a single person. When we compare this with a domestic postgraduate coursework student’s expected yearly expenditure of $22,500, it is easy to see why students feel the need to skip meals and other necessities while they complete their studies. It is a little less dire for domestic research students – the median yearly income was $32,900 – where at least these students’ finances were not, on average, going backwards. While these figures are in need of a refresh, there is no suggestion that there are material improvements to postgraduate students’ financial circumstances in 2018. We have not, in the intervening time, seen any substantive changes to rates of income support for postgraduate students. The majority of postgraduate courses remain ineligible for study payments. Simultaneously, postgraduate students are forking out for ever-increasing tuition fees – usually going into debt to do so. Postgraduate coursework fees are higher than ever thanks to the deregulated fee environment. Domestic undergraduate students can access government subsidised tuition fees, but domestic postgraduate students are usually paying exorbitant fees just like their international student counterparts. According to research commissioned by CAPA, along with our colleagues at the National Union of Students, 70% of domestic postgraduate coursework students are paying full fees for their courses, which typically cost $70,000 to $120,000. That is an eye-wateringly large sum for a student living hand-to-mouth, in the hope that their postgraduate degree will confer earning benefits later on in their working life. One can imagine the typical undergraduate student as between the ages of 18 and 22, studying fulltime, fresh out of high school or perhaps a gap year, with limited family responsibilities. The typical postgraduate student is a little harder to describe. There are many who are at a stage of life where they are raising a family and have already had a career or two behind them. There are older students who have returned to study to support their development in their existing career, and there are younger students who have followed a track straight from undergraduate study. The lack of a typical postgraduate student remains a challenge when advocating for this group, as many decision-makers believe (or choose to believe) that postgraduate students are largely middleaged men who are established in their careers and studying an MBA in order to be eligible for a promotion. This does not reflect the reality in which postgraduate study is increasingly becoming a professional entry requirement, with many younger people needing a Master’s degree to even begin in their career of choice. It is therefore shocking that low-income domestic postgraduate students are not automatically entitled to study payments. Research students are not entitled to any study payments; those who are not lucky enough to attain a competitive scholarship will receive no assistance from the Government. Meanwhile, it is a confusing situation for coursework students, who can only receive study payments if their course is deemed to be the minimum legal or accreditation requirement for their profession of choice. However, there is little awareness of this issue outside of those who are directly impacted. Some students enrol in their postgraduate degree before discovering that they are not entitled to the same study payments that they would receive had they been studying at an undergraduate level. In the current political climate of tax breaks for the rich while systematically failing the poor, it is unlikely that we will see income support entitlements for postgraduate students living in poverty. We at CAPA are continuing to campaign on this issue as we believe the current patchwork system is unfair and inefficient, and acts a barrier for postgraduate students to complete and perform well in their studies. In the meantime, success in postgraduate studies will remain the purview of those who can afford it. Natasha Abrahams is the President of CAPA


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Semester 2, 2018

Natasha Abrahams CAPA President

Round 7 bargaining update By Susan Kenna National Industrial Officer

We are almost half way through Round 7 bargaining – a round focussed on job security, including conversion rights for casual and fixed term staff, and 17% superannuation for fixed term staff. So far we have achieved the latter for fixed term staff who were not previously guaranteed 17% superannuation payments at each university where we’ve bargained. There have also been improved conversion rights for both fixed term and casual staff, and a growth in the number of Scholarly Teaching Fellows (STF) positions or equivalent, to around 750 (at June 2018). These are teaching roles (fixed-term or continuing) which absorb work previously undertaken by casual staff; they are a key part of our job security strategy. Recent settlements have occurred at University of Tasmania (UTAS) and the Australian Catholic University (ACU) with University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), University of Queensland and Charles Darwin University very close. Median pay increases across the round are at 2–2.1% per annum. We outlined the key achievements for casual staff so far in the March edition of Connect. These ranged from limits on the reasons for denying casual staff conversion to on-going work, increased minimum payments for casual staff, extending domestic violence leave to casual staff and improved overtime payments. Here’s a sample of what’s been agreed in finalised Agreements from the last quarter (March–June) for both fixed term and casual staff.

ACU ACU has a commitment to 12 new roles to replace sessional engagements as part of the existing conversion from sessional teaching to fixed term or continuing teaching. These are tracked via the Consultative Committee in the Agreement.

UTS At UTS there will be 30 new continuing STFs during the life of the Agreement and these will be advertised internally in the first instance. STFs can apply for conversion to a standard teaching and research role once they reach Level B, step 3, provided they develop an annual research plan and the Faculty has work available. Applications for conversion will not unreasonably be refused. Staff on at least their second fixed-term contract at UTS are no longer required to have been appointed via a ‘merit selection process’ in order to achieve conversion.


Casual staff have also achieved: • Pay for the performance of any directed work at the appropriate rate. • Payment for preparation undertaken if they are unable to deliver the face to face component of their work due to illness. • Inclusion of casuals in consultation for the establishment of a time formula for the marking of assessments as part of the Faculty Workload Guidelines.

UTAS At UTAS, fixed term staff will have a new right to renewal of their contract where funding continues, and after 12 months continuous service (subject to reasonable requirements). For casuals, NTEU achieved agreement to a new Casual Researcher Development Scheme Trial to provide professional development scholarships in Arts, Law and Education. This was approved in an exchange of letters between the parties. The aim is to assist teaching casuals to be more competitive in applying for advertised vacancies. The trial will provide for 12 eligible casual staff scholarships and will be reviewed annually by the University and the NTEU. Development activities which are part of the scholarship include: • Conference support. • A 5 day research-writing skills retreat. • A monthly half-day writing workshop and feedback leading up to the retreat. • Senior academic mentors. Participating casuals will be considered for appointment to available fixed term or continuing positions.

17% superannuation for fixed term staff Prior to this round of bargaining the full 17% employer contribution (via Unisuper) was only paid to on-going staff and some fixed term staff (often limited to those employed for two years or more). This round NTEU has achieved 17% superannuation for all fixed term staff members at each university where we have a final Agreement. Most of these arrangements will be phased in over the life of the Agreement, but at James Cook University negotiators achieved immediate eligibility for all fixed term staff from the date of Agreement approval, and at Swinburne University all fixed term staff received 17% superannuation contributions from 1 March 2018. This bargaining outcome has set a new standard for staff experiencing job insecurity, and will make a significant contribution to the retirement savings of those staff on fixed term contracts.

Casualisation began and was spearheaded by the private colleges. Don't forget us, we are at the forefront of poverty wages.

Tell us your story @


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Community Development Program

A racist remote work for the dole scheme By Celeste Liddle National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Organiser

We are in a time where increases in casualised and insecure work have become normalised under claims that workers want 'flexibility'. Yet in this country some workers are not being paid at all. The Federal Government’s ironically-named Community Development Program (CDP) has been in place now for three years and, despite report after report condemning this initiative for a variety of reasons, it remains. The CDP is touted as a remote 'work for the dole' scheme; geared around developing capacity in areas which need it. Yet it has been continually criticised – by the ACTU, the NTEU, other unions and various media reports – as a racist, exploitative and discriminatory program designed to deny workers their rights.

The union movement is fighting back against this abhorrent program but needs your support. The First Nations Workers’ Alliance (FNWA) is a union for CDP participants and uses supporter contributions to organise and empower these workers. During 2018, FNWA has run a series of leadership forums and activities across the country. NTEU is a full supporter of the FNWA and encourages all NTEU members to become a part of this fight. Join the Alliance and assist in their important work:

The CDP currently operates in communities where over 80% of the unemployed people are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. It requires that welfare recipients undertake 25 hours per week of work, year round, for the maintenance of their welfare payment – up to 80% of which may be quarantined under other programs such as the BasicsCard. People undertaking CDP have no protection under Occupational Health and Safety legislation nor do CDP participants accumulate superannuation. The majority of the work they undertake is work generally undertaken by local government and public servants in other areas of the country; attracting full wages and entitlements. In many remote areas, however, people are expected to trade off their civil rights for basic services taken for granted elsewhere, as has been shown repeatedly by the Northern Territory Intervention. In addition to this, private enterprises can apply to be CDP providers, therefore profiteering off an endless pool of labour. Considering that CDP participants are being fined for Centrelink non-compliance at a rate 70% higher than anyone else, it is clear that this is a targeted racist and exploitative program designed to keep Indigenous workers subservient and impoverished. It has been 52 years since the Wave Hill Walk-off, yet our government still believes that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people should provide labour for free.

There is strength in numbers! ARE YOU WITH US?

Join the fight


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Semester 2, 2018

Fight for the rights of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander CDP workers.


University of Melbourne

Casuals organise for job security and against underpayments By Lisbeth Latham Branch Industrial Organiser , University of Melbourne

As part of the ongoing campaign for a new Enterprise Agreement at the University of Melbourne, casual staff have renewed efforts to improve conditions. The main concerns, as at other universities, is the lack of job security and that the amount of unpaid work performed by casuals. In the lead up to the strike at the University of Melbourne on 9 May, members working in the School of Culture and Communication raised concerns around limited facilities available to casuals, particularly in the vicinity of where the school's lectures and tutorials are conducted. They also identified concerns over the discrepancy between the amount of time it takes casuals to perform allocated tasks and the time which university management allocates for payment to perform these tasks. This discrepancy is exacerbated in some units within the school where staff are expected to provide unpaid feedback on student statements of aims and influences which students are required to submit with assessments. The issues raised in Culture and Communication reflects the ongoing challenge of both improving conditions in the Enterprise Agreement and ensuring that staff receive the conditions which the Agreement already provides for. The establishment of a framework for reducing the University of Melbourne's reliance on casual academic staff to perform teaching, and create pathways to more secure forms of employment continues, to be a key claim in bargaining. The aim is to achieve a mechanism for converting casual roles into permanent positions. Casual activists can play an important role not only to win this pathway to secure employment, but in ensuring that management abides by this aspect of the Agreement. Our Agreement states that "the University will use its best endeavours to provide casual staff members with the facilities and resources appropriate to enable the fulfilment of their duties". This includes "telephone access, PC access, an email account and network access, a work desk, a library card and designated space access to the library and a university email account". However, members report that in some schools there is insufficient space for the number of casual staff employed in the area and that the rooms for casual staff which do exist are often inadequate. The University of Melbourne Agreement requires that "any additional duties required during term will be paid". However, many casuals report situations in which they are performing additional work, but receive no additional payment. This generally expresses itself in two ways. The first is where staff are directed to perform additional work, such as giving feedback on students' statements of aims and influences, and are not

paid for the work. The second, and far more pervasive, is where management contract casual staff to perform duties and pay them for this work, but the contracted hours are insufficient to allow the casual staff to complete the duties at a professional level. In this situation casual academics, out of professional pride and commitment to students, commit more additional time than originally contracted, despite receiving no additional payment. In both situations casuals should be paid for all work performed. NTEU University of Melbourne Branch will be running a campaign to win back payment for casual members who have been expected to perform additional work for no additional payment. As part of this campaign we will seek to win a commitment from university management to ensure that time allocations in casual contracts more accurately reflect the actual time taken to complete teaching and teaching related tasks at a professional level. This issue is being addressed through bargaining to achieve a new clause which increases the onus on management to pay for all work performed. However, any clause will require a commitment from management to accept claims for additional work performed. In order to support the push for payment for all work performed, and to build student awareness of the current gap between management's expectations regarding the quality of work to be performed and the amount of time they are willing to allocate to performing the duties. Thus far two casual organising meetings have been held over June. More meetings will be held during second semester. If you are interested in participating in the campaign to improve casual conditions contact the Branch at Above: Members at the University of Melbourne stopwork in May, en route to the Change the Rulees rally. Credit: Toby Cotton

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Agreements, Awards & the BOOT By Susan Kenna National Industrial Officer

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently handed down some decisions around the approach to BOOT ('Better Off Overall Test'). That is, assessing proposed Enterprise Agreements to ensure that employees are better off when compared to the appropriate Award. Two FWC decisions examined the question of ‘loaded rates’ in agreements and whether they could ensure that 'each and every' employee would be better off. Loaded rates are those rates which roll-up the payment of shift, overtime and/or other penalty payments which are designed to provide a cover-all payment for certain workers. In the two decisions covering workers in the retail, security and concrete sectors, the Commission found that it was not good enough to make commitments around loaded rates based on ‘notional rosters’ nor by examining conditions of employment where employees may be better off. The words in the prescribed Agreement must be judged and applied to all employees. This could be most problematic when assessing the BOOT for casual staff.

For a ‘true casual’ – someone who is not engaged on fixed hours over a long period- the FWC found that it would be near impossible to judge whether they were better off under loaded rates. For example, in considering a proposed Agreement for Allied Concrete, the FWC found that if a casual ended up only working on weekends, the proposed loaded rate would not adequately compensate them for the absence of weekend penalty rates. In our sector, such arrangements could affect staff working in libraries, recreation centres and other areas that engage high numbers of casual staff. We have to consider every penalty payment and for casuals, this includes whether the 25% casual loading applies in addition to loaded rates.

What does this mean for casual staff in higher education? Casual staff – particularly professional staff – stand to benefit from this new scrutiny. In particular, we have been asked to clarify when overtime applies for casual staff, and the Higher Education (General Staff) Award 2010 will soon be amended for this purpose. In theory, it should be easier to test proposed agreements against the Award when this occurs. More regular sessional academics can better predict their earnings, but we must be vigilant about accepting loaded rates where they are proposed.

Domestic violence leave for casual staff Higher education Awards and the Education Services (PostSecondary Education) Award 2010 will soon be varied to include the Fair Work Commission decision on family/ domestic violence leave. Though the ACTU was not successful in achieving paid leave, the Commission has granted 5 days unpaid per leave per annum to all employees, including casual staff. Almost all NTEU Enterprise Agreements now include paid domestic violence leave and many include casuals in the provision, so there are unlikely to be issues with our Agreements passing the BOOT in this respect. In Victorian TAFE, domestic violence leave is provided as this is mandatory in all public sector Agreements. NTEU is also seeking 20 days domestic violence leave in the current round of bargaining. However, there is a new provision in the Award decision that parties need to consider in bargaining and that is that the leave will apply to an employee who has to attend to ‘something’ arising from the impact of the violence, which can’t be attended to outside of working hours. This may involve assisting someone with emergency accommodation or attending court, for example. All casuals will also have access to the unpaid leave for this purpose.


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Semester 2, 2018

NTEU @ ACTU Congress

Fighting for a profession By Jeannie Rea National President

NTEU joined with other unions at the recent ACTU Congress to focus upon organising to reverse the descent of Australia into a seriously unequal society where too many people cannot get enough work, or get paid well enough to support themselves and their dependents. For our presentation, NTEU was asked to focus upon the plight of the academic profession. While there is union and public awareness of the casualisation of academic teaching, the magnitude of the problem, and the ramifications for the future of the profession and for scholarly teaching and research across a number of disciplines is in serious trouble. Introducing ‘Fighting for a profession’, we pointed out that by headcount over 213,000 people are employed in universities, of whom over 100,000 are academics (on NTEU estimates from the Department of Education and WGEA data). Sixty-four per cent of the total number of staff are employed insecurely, of whom over 43% are casuals and almost 21% are on short term contracts. That less than 3 in 100 of new university jobs since 2005 are ongoing ‘teaching and research’ positions starkly exposed the problem for the future of the profession. Academic jobs have been taylorised, and then parts hived off and offered as short term gigs with no commitment from management to the future career prospects of these staff, nor much concern even about their professional development when on the payroll. We explained that more than half of university teaching is done by casually employed academics, and that meant that many other parts of academic jobs have just been added onto the workload of more securely employed academic and professional staff. This also has impacts on academic freedom and the pursuit of truth and knowledge. Research breadth and depth is constrained by limited term contract research. Optogenetic and neuroscience research assistant, Jenny Smith, who is employed as a professional staff member, but has often held positions requiring teaching too, told the stunned crowd about her work history.

Jenny's story I work as a scientist at the University of Tasmania in a support role for research and lab-based teaching. I’ve been there for 20 years and in that time I've worked in 4 departments, had 12 jobs and had 30 contracts. Most of the time I’ve held several jobs simultaneously, sometimes up to 3, and I currently work 2 jobs. Until this year, I’d never had a contract longer than 12 months (I'm now on a 3 year contract). Last year, whilst I was backfilling for someone working part-time, my contracts were only 4 months, despite the incumbent wanting to be part-time for at least 12 months. But I’m not lonely, because 70% of my colleagues are in the same boat. But staff turnover isn't high, people manage to stay on, people are there for decades in insecure employment, like me. The University can count on us. But we don’t have jobs we can count on. Research staff in unis are typically employed off grants, which last 3–5years. The success rate of grants in my school was only 16% last year, and as it takes 2–3 months to write a grant this is such a waste of time. If one year you don’t get a grant, you have to hope your school is rich enough and kind enough to cover you until the next round of grants. You have no reason to make long-term investments in your job, as you may not have that job. You toss up whether to spend time training and mentoring others, as you may not be able to see it through. There’s a personal cost too. You don’t, or can’t buy a home. (The Banking Royal Commission has really stuffed this for people like me, as dodgy loans were great for us!). When renting, signing a 12 month lease towards the end of a grant is risky. You cannot commit to long-term involvement in community groups as you may have to let them down when you leave. Your family has to move more often, relationships and friendships have to be left behind. If you’re a gardener, don’t plant a walnut tree! Above: Medical scientist, Jenny Smith, who has worked 20 years on 30 contracts at the University of Tasmania, with another highly qualified and experienced worker representing the Independent Education Union, who spoke about teaching in the private international education sector as a permanent casual.

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Does this ring any bells? A scenario describing how the academic profession is in peril*

A professor retires at the end of a long and distinguished career, but she is not replaced by the promotion of one of her colleagues, nor an appointment from outside. Instead her teaching is casualised. A post doc is appointed parttime to add to her grant project team, while she continues to lead it in an unpaid adjunct position until its completion. She also agrees to continue supervising her current Masters and PhD candidates on nominal casual rates.

In reality, most of the actual teaching is done by casually employed staff, some who have been teaching there for well over five years. Most have given up on ever getting an academic job and instead focus on research and writing in their own time, glad they do not need a lab to undertake their research. The university, though, takes credit for the their research outcomes. The younger women and men wonder if they should hang around much longer or just move out of higher education all together, as they defer life decisions, like having children. Enrolments remain solid.

With her departure there is only one professor left in the discipline group and he is looking to leave soon. The only associate professor does no teaching, but takes much of the supervision load and brings in much needed funds through consultancies, but that does not add to the research profile.

But frankly teaching the undergraduate program is cross subsidised by the high fee postgraduate coursework stream, which is fully taught by casually employed staff. And there is pressure to put all that online, while still recruiting onshore international students.

There are several mid-level lecturers but they cannot get the ‘research points’ required for promotion, due to their teaching and administration workloads. There are no entry level lecturers and have not been for years.

Another review has just been announced and the discipline has been named on a list of those to be cut altogether. The university is arguing that it is not sustainable – as dropping staff numbers and research profile. Disciplines in trouble include languages, philosophy and history, but also physics and maths.

There is contract lecturer who has been backfilling others on leave for 8 years, but she is considered too expensive so she has been offered the same work casually reducing her income to one-quarter what it was.

*Testimony delivered by NTEU National President at ACTU Congress (see report, p. 7)

NTEU elections and leadership changes By Michael Evans, National Organiser

Elections for some full-time and honorary positions at NTEU Branch, Division and National level open on Friday 3 August 2018 and close at 10am on Friday 24 August 2018. National leadership changes The biggest news in this round of elections is that foundation General Secretary Grahame McCulloch is retiring. After two terms, the current National President Jeannie Rea is also leaving to return to working in the sector. Dr Alison Barnes from Macquarie University and current NSW Division Assistant Secretary has been elected unopposed as National President. Current National Assistant Secretary, Matthew McGowan has been elected unopposed as General Secretary. Both take up their new positions in mid-October 2018.

Contested elections There is a contested election for the position of National Assistant Secretary. And in Victoria the positions of Division Secretary and Assistant Secretary are contested. At a few Branches there are also contested elections for some positions. Members will know if they are eligible to vote in a contested election because they will receive ballot papers from the AEC sent to their address registered with the NTEU after 3 August. You may also receive campaign materials from the candidates.


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Semester 2, 2018

Branch Committee positions for Casuals The 2017 National Council created new designated positions for a casual member on Branch Committees, for Branches with more than 20 casual members. Of the 33 Branches eligible for the new position, 20 have been filled during this election round. Hopefully the remainder will be filled during the round of supplementary elections. This is an important step in recognising the increasing significance of casual staff in the workforce and the Union. A specific Branch Committee member will be able to be a voice for casual members in the Branch and ensure that casual members’ interests are better represented by the Branch. Check to see if your Branch is eligible for a casual member on the Branch Committee and if the position has been filled. If not, think about whether you might be interested in getting more involved and nominating for the position when the supplementary elections come around. This also applies to vacancies for other Branch Committee positions, including designated positions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members. Election information and declarations:

Lobbying your MP about insecure work By Michael Evans National Organiser

Universities and other educational and research institutions are vital parts of their communities. They also matter to politicians… a lot. Not only do universities play an important role in providing education and skills to the next generation, but they are regularly one of the biggest employers in any suburb, town or region. Universities also support local business, directly through local supply and service contracts, or indirectly by attracting the staff, students and visitors who spend in the local economy, as well as training new and existing staff. As universities and research institutions are mainly federally funded, NTEU advocacy work focuses upon lobbying politicians and political parties at Parliament House over policy and funding, along with maintaining relationships with stakeholder organisations also based in Canberra. There are still a lot State- and Territory-based matters, and NTEU also maintains focus upon these levels of government. But we also need to focus at the grassroots level, where support for politicians matters most to them – in their electorates.

• It is critical that your message and what you would like the politicians to do on your behalf are consistent, relatively simple and highly focused. • We have plenty of information, general and specific. If you cannot find it, just ask. Email • Key messages: We deserve more secure jobs. We do not accept that this is an inevitable trend. When there is ongoing work to be done, we want casuals and limited term contract workers converted to ongoing jobs. • Make your message personal. Tell your story. If you are an insecure worker, tell them about the work you do, how you manage – and the broader consequences of your insecure employment. If you are not an insecure worker, speak of your concerns for your colleagues and the impact their insecure employment has on your work too. • It is likely they will ask about what is happening at your workplace. Be prepared to provide a brief response. You can use it as an opportunity to arrange the MP or Senator to visit the campus or to arrange a follow-up meeting at a later time. • Stick with your original message and don’t be distracted by side issues, but at the same time, keep it personable. • Prepare a brief, one page summary of your case.

Politicians want votes! The tertiary education and research community, and those who benefit from it, vote. Politicians want votes. That means they listen when their constituents contact them or visit them to raise an issue. The key issue at the moment affecting NTEU members, and especially casually employed members, is insecure work. As part of our involvement in the Change the Rules campaign, NTEU Branches should be organising delegations to visit their local politicians and convey members’ views about universities’ increasing reliance on insecure workers.

Key points to remember about lobbying • Politicians’ jobs depend on people voting for them. They spend time door knocking during election campaigns to personally speak to as many people as possible. If you come to them with an issue, they’ll want to know about it.

• Ensure you leave behind: your one page summary of the issues; any additional, relevant information; your contact details. • Be clear about what you want from the politician and from the meeting. Be specific. Try to obtain a definite commitment and if necessary arrange a follow-up with their office staff to finalise details. • Always offer to make yourself, or another representative, available in future. Willingness to provide information on matters that the politician is interested in helps build regular contact and prepares the ground for further meetings. NTEU has a good reputation for accurate and honest information – and you may be asked to pursue further matters. Let us know! • Leave on a positive note and do not forget to thank them for their time. Further information about lobbying can be found at

• Let your local MP know what you think, show that you care and give them a perspective that they won’t get from the VC.

CASUAL VOICES Tell us your story @

Overworked academics in tenured employment should stop doing extra hours at no pay. Employment needs to be made available for those casuals seeking more secure work. If all casuals withdrew their labour it is clear that Universities would not be able to function. Together we are powerful - we just need to be organised enough to enact this power. Jennifer

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By Jeannie Rea National President

Since 2012, Bluestocking Week has been making space to focus on women in higher education. During this week, we organise events and actions to draw attention to women’s achievements, but also to continue campaigning for all women’s rights to equity and justice. NTEU revived Bluestocking Week along with the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Council of Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), It was originally an NUS initiative, but was wiped out in the 1990s by the Howard Coalition Government stopping universities collecting student union fees and thus undermining student unions. More recently, women university staff, along with students, had observed that space for women to organise was narrowing. We had achieved such breakthrough changes from the 1970s – including introducing women’s and gender studies courses; affirmative action that made it more possible for women to advance careers; policies and practices to deal with sexual and gendered violence; good paid parental leave; and even women’s rooms. But our space had deteriorated, illustrated by women’s’ rooms becoming places to send women to breast feed or for religious observance away from the male gaze, because we could not get any more space. Women’s career advancement, after some good years, had stalled particularly for general and professional staff, even while the university workforce increasingly feminised. Women student numbers increased to over half, but had remained very gender segregated across disciplines, mirroring the workforce. Women graduates still start out earning less than men and that continues. Women and Gender Studies courses and opportunities for feminist research had contracted.

Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a big pubic issue at last thanks to the persistence of women campaigning, and the catalyst of women in the entertainment industry exposing the culture of sexual violence in their workplaces. #MeToo, originally a Black American campaign, has been appropriated widely and even translated into other languages and cultures. The AHRC has just announced an inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

Who were the Bluestocking women? Before we brought back Bluestocking Week, feminism and feminists had become stigmatised within universities. Women were unfortunately learning that to be identified or selfidentifying as feminists could be a bad career move. Hopefully, this is shifting again. It is very frustrating to be told what you believe and what you do by those who don’t like what feminism stands for. There are lots of definitions. I personally still like a 1970s definition my mum was fond of – a feminist is a woman who does not want to be treated like a doormat. The original Bluestockings were women trying to escape being treated like a doormat. 'Bluestocking' was popularised as a derogatory term for women seeking and succeeding in finishing high school and going onto university. The blue stocking reference was thought to be characterising such women as wearing unattractive worsted stockings, preferring developing their minds than focussing upon their appearance. (The actual origins of the term are more obscure; for more information see You will still occasionally hear or read the term used to diminish a serious, scholarly woman.

Sexual and gender violence

Bluestockings changed the rules – so should we

We had not stopped sexual and gendered violence, but rather the problem was being hidden. The best university management seemed to come up with was to tell young women to walk in pairs in lit-up areas, use shuttle buses and don’t get drunk! Solutions were all about policing women’s behaviours, not changing men’s attitudes and behaviours.

We applaud the Bluestockings as they broke down the barriers and indeed changed the laws that meant we can go to university, pursue careers, be equal under the law, vote and enter parliament, own property, maintain custody of our children, open bank accounts and so many other critical things denied to 19th century women – and indeed to women for much of the 20th century.

The 2017 Change the Course report arising out of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey, commissioned by Universities Australia (UA), of sexual violence towards students at all public universities, found nothing surprising, but has put the onus on university managements to lift their game. One outcome is that NTEU, with CAPA, has worked with UA on guidelines for supervisors and supervisees, which are due for release soon. It is not at all surprising that year after year Bluestocking Week events focus upon sexual and gendered violence on and off campus.

So let’s get on with supporting the Change the Rules campaign – and organise for and with women.


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More on Bluestocking Week and this year’s events near you: We recognise it is often difficult for casually employed women to get to specific campus events, so please note you will be welcomed at any site.

NTEU is holding a Future of the Sector Conference on 10–11 September 2018 in Melbourne. We will discuss the future of higher education work and workers: how work in the sector should be, and how we can get there. What we can do to make employment more secure will be central to this discussion. The conference is an intervention to make space for the voices of people working in the sector in current debates about the future of universities and post-secondary education. We hope you will be able to attend. Your perspectives on how we can make secure good jobs are vital to discussions about the future of, and the future of work in, our sector.

How to take part The conference is free for NTEU members. However, you must register – and get to Melbourne. Each Branch has one nationally-funded delegate, but can send and support more delegates. If you are interested in attending the conference, speak with your local NTEU Branch. Registrations close Friday 10 August 2018. Or contact Amelia Sully at Interested members of the public may also attend, at a cost of $200 ($100 concession). Registration and payment is via the conference website,

Roadshows The conference is preceded by a national Future of the Sector Roadshow, a series of events organised by Branches and Divisions across the country. Solutions to insecure work in the sector are a theme throughout the roadshow events. In NSW, there will be a panel discussion, 'The End of Insecure Work'; in Darwin a 'Future of Regional Universities' forum; and in Adelaide the focus is on the role of universities in the future of work. Check online for a full list of events.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER, VISIT Authorised by J.Rea, NTEU, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne VIC 3205

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the movement for


Between 29 April and 19 May, several hundred thousand people attended nineteen Change the Rules rallies held in capital and major regional cities across Australia. The largest of these was the Melbourne rally, with an estimated 100,000 plus people attending. Jobs You Can Count On The ACTU released its 'Jobs You Can Count On' jobs policy on 23 May. The policy sets out a strategy to improve both the quantity and quality of work: creating new jobs, lifting pay, enhancing the security and conditions of employment, and ensuring access to decent work for all Australians. Its key elements are: • Australia must move to a more even playing field by updating our industrial laws to reflect the reality of the modern workplace and labour market – we must change the rules to put working people’s needs on par with business profits. • We must promote and encourage local industries that provide good, secure jobs, rather than relying on a failed model of trickle-down economics. This means maximising job opportunities for locals and investing in industries that train and employ local workers. • We must fight gender inequality, marginalisation and discrimination so that people who have the toughest time getting good secure jobs have a fair shot.

By Michael Evans National Organsier

Federal by-elections campaign A main focus of the Change the Rules campaign over the coming period was the five by-elections held on 28 July in the seats of Longman (QLD), Mayo (SA), Braddon (TAS), Fremantle (WA) and Perth (WA). The ACTU, trades and labour councils and unions focussed on the seats of Longman and Braddon around: • Penalty rates: further penalty rate cuts took effect on 1 July. • Job security: of the million jobs the Coalition claims to have created, half are workers on temporary visas or casual and fixed term jobs.


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NTEU Defenders of Higher Education pledge Selected candidates in the July by-elections were invited to sign onto NTEU’s Defenders of Higher Education pledge, developed at the last federal election. The pledge states: If elected in the 2018 by-election, I will support policies that: • Keep the cost and debt of going to university within the reach of all. • Improve the level of public investment in teaching and research for our public universities. • Ensure university autonomy and academic freedom are protected in the public interest. • Protect the international reputation of our higher education system through rigorous regulation and public accountability. • Ensure the working rights of all staff are protected through collective bargaining Agreements. NTEU will also approach candidates in the federal election campaign to sign a similar pledge.

Marginal seats campaign The ACTU has also started its marginal seats campaign for the next federal election, due by May 2019. The campaign targets the 24 most marginal seats around Australia. Seats that are currently held by both the ALP and the Coalition are included in this list. The campaign’s aim is to identify union members in marginal seats who are swinging or undecided voters, and to seek to persuade them to vote against the Coalition. The ACTU has also appointed lead campaign organisers for most of these seats, to generate grassroots campaign activities to persuade voters to not support the Coalition.

The future campaign The ACTU and trades and labour councils are considering further nationwide rallies in spring, and additional phone banks to talk with workers around key issues such as job security and the right to strike. Meanwhile, the crisis of a lack of job security in higher education is reaching epic proportions: •

• Four out of five research-only staff are on fixed term contracts. • Less than 3% of new university jobs between 2005 and 2016 are ongoing or tenured teaching and research positions. • More than half of university undergraduate teaching is done by casually employed academics. • Only 2 out of 10 newly appointed staff are employed on a permanent basis (or 3 out of ten on a FTE basis.) • In 2016, 65% of the total number of staff in universities were employed insecurely. NTEU members and activists are meeting and planning activities around the key issues affecting higher education, such as job security and the rights of casually employed staff to convert to more secure employment, if their work is regular and systematic for more than six months. Many Branches have either established networks of casual and contract staff members or are planning to do so. Their aim is to involve casual members in planning and organising activities, and use these campaigns to take the message out more broadly to other insecurely employed staff.

Visit your local MP In the lead-up to the federal election, NTEU members should visit their local Members of Parliament, seeking commitments around job security and adequate funding for the sector (see p. 9). Ideally, your Branch should organise a delegation of members spanning the different employment categories, but especially including a casual member, who can tell their own story. Realistically, the rules around job security and the right to strike will only have the chance to be changed for the better if there is a change of government. So it’s of equal importance to seek to lock in the ALP with concrete commitments before the election, as it is to defeat the Coalition at the next election. Defenders of Higher Education pledge Above: NTEU members marching on May Day in Canberra. Credit: Lachlan Clohesy

Four out of five teaching-only staff are on casual contracts.

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'Jack' of casual exploitation

By Andrew Macdonald National Media & Communications Officer

Jack* has been casually teaching for two years at a university while carrying out postgraduate studies. Last year he noticed a slight change in his casual employment contract. It was a small reduction in the amount of time allocated to complete his work and it caused him to think more deeply about the treatment of casuals in our university system. “I taught one subject in semester two 2016, then I taught the same subject again in semester two 2017 and there had been a reduction, a one hour reduction in ‘other activities’ in the contract,” said Jack. “There was no explanation or justification. Sure, it’s just one hour, but when you’ve got 35 casuals teaching in the subject, and you’re taking away one hour from all of them, then that is one EFT. “There were no significant changes in that subject in terms of content or required tasks, so the work was still expected to be done, but they’re just going to pay you for one hour less. “That was really a turning point for me.” From semester two last year, Jack said he had adopted a new approach by accurately recording the time he spent on tasks, and working only the contracted time. “I started becoming very strict about time taken – taking notes on how long it takes to reply to email, marking and those sorts of things,” he said. “I have also been strict about making sure I have an auto reply on my email outlining that these are the times I am teaching and the rest of the time I am not available so don’t expect a reply straight away. “I have been really conscious of the hours since semester two last year, so I haven’t gone beyond my allocation for marking assignments or anything like that. I have just been extremely strict with it but that also means that some students wouldn’t have received the quantity of feedback that I would have liked to have provided for their assignment. “It is a catch 22 because as a facilitator you want to put the student first, but honestly 22 minutes to mark a 1500 word assignment is ridiculous. “You can barely get through and think critically about what the student is trying to say, and then provide feedback as well. Then if there are any further administration issues, that eats in to your time even more. “These unpaid tasks are all things I have raised with the university but just got correspondence back saying they’re doing everything to the collective agreement. “The purpose of collecting the data really began from a place of being concerned about being exploited by the university, and being expected to do all this extra work , and basically not being supported.” Jack acknowledged that while he had taken a stand, his solution was a short term one, far from ideal and an option many casuals could not afford to take.


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How casualisation crushes academic debate He added a lack of support from management meant many casuals were unable to complete work requirements in the time allocated in their contracts, and that the expectation many would put in additional unpaid hours was adding to a cycle of exploitation. “There are so many issues and concerns with it but I really think that the marking is one of the biggest” said Jack. “It’s a really important issue in terms of the lack of allocation of time for marking assignments. The other thing is not being provided with training on how to mark an assignment. “For instance when I started at the university, there was no interview, there’s no key selection criteria, there’s no position description or an outline of your roles and responsibilities. Later on, I requested a position description from HR and was told that it wasn’t possible. “There’s nothing about how you actually go about marking these assignments – looking for things like how much time I should spend on each assignment, how much detail I should go into , and it’s basically like ‘well, you’re on your own ’. And it was eating into my personal time as well. “It ends up as sort of chaos really for casual staff, where you really do just learn on the fly – particularly when you’re first starting. Then it really is easy for the subject coordinators to just go ‘well this person doesn’t know what they are doing, so we won’t offer them work next semester’. “It’s very easy to blame casual staff without addressing the real problems, and ultimately it’s the students that suffer through things like inconsistency with marking, or the teaching and pedagogy and the way that is approached. It’s a really short term approach, especially when casuals are offered 12-13 week contracts and that’s it. Jack said he feared the system of universities exploiting casual staff would continue unless significant change occurred. “I’m not just having a sook about this. It’s not about ‘poor me’. It is systemic and I talk to a lot of other casuals and they talk about experiencing very similar things, but they are too scared to bring these issues up for fear of either having their current contact terminated or not being offered future work. “There’s some very poor behaviour from management. You raise these issues and they’re just not willing to change anything because they are getting a very good deal out of casuals. “And then when you do raise concerns, you run the risk that somewhere at the coordinator level, someone might try to block you from teaching. Not because you’re a bad teacher or anything like that, but because you are raising concerns.” “Despite this, I would strongly encourage all casuals to formally raise issues with HR and include the union. I would also encourage casual staff to record any and all activities undertaken as part of their work. *Casually employed academic staff are often reluctant to speak out because they quite reasonably fear they will not be employed again. Therefore, we are protecting the identity of ‘Jack’. - Editor

One of the really difficult things about sessional and casual academic work is that an everyday disagreement between colleagues, and about different academic approaches, is so imbued with unbalanced power relations. We all know that to speak up is to risk unemployment. I was once asked by a course coordinator to pass two students who had plagiarised giant slabs of content into not one, but both of their two assignments. I complained. They were passed, and I was never employed there again. (I did speak to the two students about what happened, and with one discussed how she was doing herself a big disservice. She thanked me for speaking to her at least). I once asked for a 2 day extension on marking because they had brought the marking deadline forward a week and I could not possibly mark 90 x 2,500 word assignments in 3 days, while also conducting research at another university. They refused, then gave me the extension, and never employed me again. I once disagreed with several colleagues on an approach to marking because I believed they had misinterpreted the purpose of that assignment (I had been working on this subject for several years and I was there when it was designed, while these colleagues had been moved over that year during a restructure). The tutor-coordinator reported my disagreement with them. I was moved to another subject the next semester and told I needed to 'learn to be more flexible' in my teaching. I declined and moved elsewhere but lost a subject I loved, helped design, received excellent student feedback for, and had been teaching well for four years. I was once asked to construct an online questionnaire using seriously ill-considered demographic terms. It would have caused a furore. I refused to switch the questionnaire to live until alternatives had been discussed and agreed. The head researcher didn't understand or accept my concerns. The researcher was from business, I from critical social theory. They were also never on campus, and kept cancelling meetings. This delayed the survey go-live by several weeks. They blamed me for the late start date. I later found out that those responsible for my employment on this project chose me because I would manage this researcher 'upwards': I would manage a head of school, as a casual, with no minimum hours. I left that project, at my own cost. They got full credit for the research design. Every time I feel compelled to disagree with something, even at a minor level, I hesitate. My future employment comes to mind, my livelihood hangs in the balance. Disagreement is essential to good academic work. Anything that stifles or creates risks for individuals when disagreeing or challenging ideas, is a problem for this work. Any work that requires the ability to be critical and thoughtful and to take time – by its very nature – cannot be conducted well under unstable employment arrangements, and especially with the unspoken possibility of one of the most aggressive forms of punishment there is: removal of income, and ability to live well, with no notice. Not only is casual employment unjust. Good work cannot be conducted under the conditions of casual labour. This article has been verified and is published anonymously because of the risk to future employment for the writer – Editor

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wage theft off the menu

By Danielle Croci Outreach Organiser, Young Workers Centre

You may have noticed recently that wage theft is on the public agenda. With stories of deliberate underpayment coming out of franchises like Subway up to high-end restaurants owned by the likes of George Calombaris and Shannon Bennett, some businesses appear to be running on a model of wage theft. And it is hitting young and migrant workers particularly hard. But what actually is wage theft? It sounds like stealing, right? Well, it’s when a boss knowingly underpays workers their wages and entitlements. This can come in the form of paying below the legal minimum wage, not paying penalty and overtime rates and superannuation, or not providing paid leave when required. In some cases, employees simply aren’t paid at all. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they know the correct award rate and minimum wage for their employees in order to pay them fairly. It is an obligation of owning a business and is required under our laws. Yet, in many cases, that obligation is deliberately not being met. According to research undertaken by the Young Workers Centre, one-in-five young people in Victoria are working for base pay rates under the minimum wage.1 Audits undertaken by the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2015 and 2016 discovered that 47% of fast food businesses and 46% of cafes and restaurants were paying their employees incorrectly.2 Retail and hospitality are often hotbeds of wage theft and exploitation, although it occurs across all industries. Similarly, it’s not solely an issue for young people. Any worker can be the victim of wage theft as a result of unscrupulous bosses. And it appears to be getting worse. An audit released in July 2018 by the Fair Work Ombudsman undertook 243 audits of businesses in Victoria St, Richmond, as well as Glebe Point Road in Glebe, Sydney, and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Fair Work Inspectors found that 38% of these businesses were not paying their workers the correct base rate. In total, 72% of businesses were found to be non-compliant, either by not paying the correct base rate, not providing breaks or correct payslips.3 The Fair Work Ombudsman said in a media release that “while disappointed by the high levels of non-compliance uncovered… we are not surprised... Our experience is that addressing entrenched, cultural non-compliance requires a combination of regulatory intervention, public awareness and industry leadership.”


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Is this enough though? While public consciousness about wage theft has been raised by the hard work of workers and unions who speak out, clearly businesses are not getting the message – or are not fearful of the potential consequences. Dodgy businesses currently rely on the fact that the process to reclaim money through the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) or through the court system is difficult and daunting, particularly for marginalised people. Tina is one such example of navigating this time-consuming and often unrewarding system in Victoria. Tina came to Melbourne from Taiwan on a working holiday visa and worked as a waitress at a popular dumpling restaurant in the city for 10 months. Her employer chose not to pay her penalty rates, overtime or superannuation, let alone the minimum base rate for ordinary hours. Instead, she was paid as little as $12 per hour on a flat rate, despite the minimum rate of $22.76 for Level 1 casual employees under the Restaurant Award at the time. When she was sacked after trying to take 10 days leave to visit her family back home, she decided to fight to reclaim the $20,000 that her employer had stolen. Her Taiwanese networks in Melbourne brought her to the National Union of Workers for initial advice, and through the FWO she attended a mediation with the boss. Tina was offered a measly $3,000, which she refused. With the assistance of community legal centre Justice Connect, Tina filed a claim in the small claims division of the Federal Circuit Court. With time running out before her visa ended, Tina enlisted the help of the Young Workers Centre. Community pressure was built by creating an online petition in both English and Mandarin and protesting outside the owner’s multiple businesses in the Melbourne CBD. At the small claims hearing, she was ultimately awarded the full $20,000 in unpaid wages. Although Tina’s story is a tale of success in that she received all of her backpay, ultimately owners of businesses rarely face any penalties or the threat of harsher punishment if they re-offend. When a case like Tina’s is heard, the FWO is not automatically obligated to investigate the employer’s overall business practices and they may not even be required to pay a penalty. This means that workers at that business and others owned by the offender can continue to be underpaid. And yet, if employees stole $50 out of the till, they would end up in a criminal court. Without the assistance of pro bono lawyers from two different community legal centres, and union and community protests

that highlighted the employer’s theft, Tina’s case would have been difficult to navigate for anyone, let alone a young person in Australia on a working holiday. Even the involvement of FWO only led to 15% of Tina’s wages being offer by the boss. The rules are clearly broken. A newly launched union, Hospo Voice (part of United Voice), is pushing to change the landscape for hospitality workers. The precarious nature of the industry has required a different style of organising for workers. Low membership fees and digital tools are making it easier to find information on workplace rights and workers to communicate. For instance, the online database Rate My Boss allows employees to tell their stories of exploitation and wage theft, while also giving the ability to consumers to vote with their wallet. A recent example is the action taken by workers at Barry café in Northcote, who were being underpaid by up to $6 per hour and not receiving penalty rates. When they took their concerns to the boss in the form of a letter, a number of them effectively lost their jobs by being taken off the roster. A large protest outside the café attracted enormous community support and national media coverage. By organising and telling their stories of exploitation, the workers put the harsh, unfair reality of wage theft on the public agenda. Meanwhile, the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria has committed, if re-elected, to legislate to criminalise wage theft and establish a new Wage Inspectorate to implement these new laws. Convictions would carry a maximum penalty of ten years in jail for repeat offenders, or fines of up to $190,284 for individuals and $951,420 for companies. The laws would also streamline and quicken the process for workers to seeking unpaid wages. Attaching a criminal conviction to wage theft would be a genuine deterrent to bosses, causing them to think twice before stealing their workers’ wages and entitlements. Clearly, it’s time to take wage theft off the menu. 1. Young Workers Centre. (May 2018). Briefing: Criminalising Wage Theft. 2. Fair Work Ombudsman. (June 2015). National Hospitality Industry Campaign 2012-15, Restaurants, Cafes and Catering (Wave 2); Fair Work Ombudsman. (March 2016). National Hospitality Industry Campaign 2012-15, Takeaway Foods (Wave 3). 3. Fair Work Ombudsman. (2018). FWO’s Food Precincts Campaign Returns $471,904 in Wages Owed to Hospitality Workers. 11 July.

Image credit: victority/123RF

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The casual experience tells us

It's time for change By Lachlan Clohesy ACT Division Organiser

Trade unionists in the nation’s capital marched in support of workers’ rights as part of the ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign on May Day 2018. Speakers from a range of unions spoke about their experiences, and the crowd was particularly receptive to the NTEU’s Clare Southerton. Clare is a casual member employed by the Australian National University. She has been working in Australian universities as a casual for seven years. Her speech from the rally is reproduced opposite. Clare’s passionate speech on the need to Change the Rules in higher education touched on two main themes – the explosion of insecure work in our sector and the ability for employers to terminate democratically agreed Enterprise Agreements. These are not the only things that need to change, but they’re two which are particularly relevant to our sector. In preparing to write this article I discussed casualisation with Clare. We swapped horror stories – my own background includes eight years as a casual academic as well as extensive work on NTEU casual campaigns. Clare, unfortunately, was not able to write it up herself beyond contributing her speaking notes. This was due to a pile of work (much of which will end up being unpaid) generated by taking on a course convenor role. Unpaid work was an issue we discussed. I have often reflected that we could probably solve it in one fell swoop if we were able to force universities to ban the phrase “It will look good on your CV”. We discussed the misplaced priorities of university managements. For example, the University of Canberra (UC) is launching a ‘Talent Campaign’ to bring in 40–50 academic staff. Surely there are many casuals among the 863 casually employed staff (representing 44 per cent of UC’s workforce) whose talents could be better supported and developed? We discussed the gendered nature of insecure work, which disproportionately affects women. The latest data shows that 58.7 per cent of casual employees in our sector are women. But it’s more than the numbers. Casually employed staff in universities often face barriers when it comes to problems which predominantly affect women. I worked with one casual employee who had taught for every semester for ten years. When she became pregnant with her first child, however, she was unable to access any parental leave. I spoke to one woman who, when casually employed, returned to work eight days after giving birth. I had thought this unusual and isolated, but someone else recently told me they’d returned eleven days after giving birth. And too many universities either don’t offer paid family and intimate partner violence leave for casually employed staff, or handle it on a case by case basis. Given the issues of nondisclosure, the addition of an institutional barrier at the university to other systems survivors need to navigate (such as medical, legal, and often finding a new place to live) makes a difficult situation more so.


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Change the Rules rally Canberra, 1 May 2018 Speech by Clare Southerton I want to thank each and every one of you for coming today to fight for secure jobs, for decent pay and for stronger workplace rights. I have worked as a casual employee in Australian universities for seven years, so it’s not exactly what I would call a ‘casual relationship’. During that time, I've experienced firsthand the problems of casualisation, from not knowing if I would have employment the next week, to going months without pay between teaching periods. I've done countless hours of unpaid work. I've worked sick because, as a casual, I had no sick leave. It is important to remember that casual employment is only flexible when it’s convenient for the employer. Casual employees are expected to be there and be reliable day in day out until it is no longer convenient or cheap. Well it’s not very convenient for me! Almost two-thirds of the university sector is now in insecure work, meaning 65 per cent are in casual work or fixed term contracts; 43 per cent of that is casual. More than half of undergraduate teaching is done by casual employees. Casually employed academics are passionate and committed teachers who have no choice but to undertake unpaid work to cope with demands of teaching undergraduate courses. These elite and wealthy institutions, which charge thousands of dollars to their students are exploiting their most vulnerable workers who undertake the majority of work to educate these students. The time is now to stand up for workers in higher education and for all workers’ rights. It is time for change the system is broken. We can see this from recent events at Murdoch Uni that the fundamental rights of workers are under attack. Last year, Murdoch University applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate their Enterprise Agreement, an Agreement which had been voted upon by their staff.

We discussed the callous disregard many of our institutions have for those engaged in casual work. Neoliberalism encourages a sort of ‘victim blaming’ – if you’re engaged in a casual mode of employment it’s because you are not ‘good enough’, and therefore unworthy of the conditions the rest of the sector enjoys. I vividly recall hearing a colleague in a sessional office discussing her anxiety over paying rent after a university stuff-up had meant she’d get paid the following fortnight. I found myself that afternoon in the College office, waiting for a school administrator who was on a phone call. Overhearing that phone call, I soon realised it was about my colleague: “She says she can’t pay rent. They’ve all got this problem, or that problem – I don’t care”. Clare and I were both present at a meeting of casuals where we encouraged them to tell their stories. One revealed that she’d told the university of the financial hardship that late pay had been inflicting on her. The university provided her with the details of a local soup kitchen. We also discussed how many of these stories are invisible and how there is a need to ensure that people who have experienced

The Fair Work Commission granted them this request and by terminating that agreement Murdoch Uni staff were in a position where they could have had their wages cut up to 40 per cent. This attack on collective bargaining, along with recent attacks on the right to strike and other fundamental workers’ rights show that now more than ever we need to stand up and say enough is enough. We are saying no to the mass casualisation of workers, to the loss of protections, to the loss of rights. We have to change the rules and I'm calling on all of you to get involved, be active in your union. We have to work together, and we are stronger together. We can make a stand but only if we stand together. Above: Clare Southerton at the Canberra May Day rally. Credit: Lachlan Clohesy

insecure work in our sector are present at every stage of policymaking within the NTEU. As Clare said on May Day, casually employed staff are now 43 per cent of the sector; most are academics and do more than half of all undergraduate teaching. We now have a significant number of members who have taken up casually identified positions on Branch Committees. This is a significant first step, and we need to do as much as we can to make sure casual voices are heard and properly represented when it comes to Changing the Rules in higher education. At the time of writing this article we’re also organising NTEU’s Future of the Sector Conference, with roadshows in every State and Territory (see p. 11). Let’s hope that we can make these into forums where casually employed members can feel safe in explaining just how bad things have become. In so doing, they can convince all members that casualisation is a critical issue for the present and future of our sector and that all members – not just those casually employed themselves – need to be part of the NTEU’s response to Change the Rules and fight for secure work.

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Call time

on exploitation

In March this year, Monash University released their bold new marketing campaign that challenges people to take action against the serious challenges facing communities. The slogan is clear: ‘If you don’t like it, change it’. Ironically, at the same time that Monash released a (rather expensive) campaign that positioned itself as an agent of change, in its own backyard teaching resources had just been cut for the new semester and the gross exploitation of sessionals was more rampant than ever before. As semester one began at Monash, the Monash NTEU Branch was alerted to a range of disturbing cuts to education in the Arts Faculty that had been implemented by the faculty leadership. These included: • Increased class sizes, in many cases ramming 30 students into tutorials. • Increased teaching requirements for already overloaded ongoing and fixed term staff, without consideration of the workload ramifications. • Pressure on academics in some departments to avoid hiring sessionals who hold a PhD. • The cancellation of some tutorials and the alteration of assessments to save money. • The removal of paid consultations provided by sessionals.

By Nicholas Kimberley Monash University

The Union immediately convened a meeting of Arts staff and students. There was widespread anger and concern at how the cuts would impact students. There was also serious concern that many of the cuts will hit sessionals the hardest. Neither staff nor students had been consulted before changes had been implemented. The meeting unanimously endorsed a motion calling on the faculty to reverse the education cuts and endorsed the Union running a new campaign. The Union’s campaign included: • Speaking out against the cuts publicly, including to the media. • Putting posters up around the Arts Building to publicise the cuts and demand their reversal. • Supporting the student-led campaign, including allowing students to visit Arts classes and inform students about the cuts. • Lobbying the university to reverse the cuts.


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Semester 2, 2018

Alongside the NTEU campaign, students ran a powerful campaign that made it clear to faculty leadership that students will not stand for education cuts. Students held a public meeting with a significant turnout and organised a petition calling on the cuts to be reversed. Management were spooked. The Union wrote directly to the Vice-Chancellor about the cuts in Arts and also scheduled a meeting with the Dean of Arts. At the meeting with the Dean, union representatives vigorously argued for the reversal of cuts. It was clear at the meeting that the Union’s campaign had so far been effective. It was public, and management hate nothing more than damage to their own reputations. Despite some resistance from management, the Union achieved the following: • A reduction of class sizes back to 25 for semester two. • A review of workloads which ended up seeing staff in certain areas having teaching workloads reduced for semester two. • A commitment by management that there will be no pressure around hiring people with PhDs. • The introduction of paid teaching professional development for sessional staff. • A commitment to run a workshop on active learning for all staff in the Arts Faculty. • A commitment by management to consider introducing a payment for sessional staff to provide consultation to students. The Union took the wins that we achieved to another meeting of staff, where staff overall expressed support for many of the wins but also raised concerns that the cuts won’t end unless the faculty committed to provide Schools with more money for teaching in semester two. We also knew that many of the negotiated outcomes were yet to be set in stone. There was still more work to be done. The NTEU continued to pursue the University in regard to the outcomes negotiated. Management attempted to backtrack on some of the commitments, but we maintained our position that we would not accept any outcome that continued to see sessionals to be more exploited, left ongoing and fixed term staff with more work, and students with a lesser quality of education. As a result, many of the agreed outcomes have been implemented and Schools have subsequently received more money for teaching in semester two. The sticking point since the meeting with management has been the unwillingness of the University to agree to a reasonable

proposal put forward by the NTEU to pay sessionals for the amount of consultation that they undertake that is not covered under the tutorial rate (say, for example, if a sessional has used all their paid hours to prepare for the tutorial and does not have any paid time left to provide consultations). The University flat out rejected our proposal, instead introducing a pathetic alternative which continues to see sessionals underpaid (and, surprise surprise, the Union wasn’t consulted on this alternative approach). This is just another example of sessionals being treated with contempt despite the crucial importance of their work. The NTEU has decided to continue the campaign in the Arts Faculty in semester two, but this semester the focus is solely on challenging the existing exploitation of sessionals. We know that sessionals in universities across Australia do many more hours of work than they are paid for. Universities know this and are complicit in the exploitation. The Monash NTEU Branch is calling time on the exploitation this semester in two ways. Firstly, the Union is running a campaign whereby sessionals will record their working hours across the semester. This includes every aspect of the job, such as marking, providing consultations, responding to emails, administration and planning classes. At the end of the semester, any time that has been done and is unpaid will be claimed. If Monash refuses to pay up for the work that sessionals do, the union will look to challenge this case industrially. Secondly, as sessionals in Arts have been paid the lower marking rate over many years, with the Faculty keeping it a secret that Unit Coordinators determine the rate, the Union has informed Unit Coordinators that they have a responsibility to arrange the higher rate (complex rather than standard) if the assessment meets the definition under the Enterprise Agreement. We have already seen some sessionals now being paid the complex rate in semester two. This is significant, as the rate is almost $20 per hour higher. The NTEU is proud to be standing up for sessionals. Sessionals deserve better and the union is determined to see an end to exploitative practices that universities rely on to provide an outstanding quality of education to students. The Union’s campaign at Monash has shown just how powerful we can be when we stand together. Impressively, our membership in Arts has grown by 10% since we began our campaign. There certainly is power in a union. Nicholas Kimberley is the lead campaigner of the Arts education cuts campaign and is on the NTEU Monash Branch Committee

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Student evaluation

Between a rock & a hard place By Jeannie Rea National President

Casually and contract employed teaching staff are in an invidious position in relation to the generic, online, every session Student Evaluation of Teaching and Subjects (SELTS) surveys. They share the views of other academic staff that these are woefully inadequate evaluations of their teaching, but many believe they are reliant upon favourable results for contract renewal. These were the unsurprising findings of a recent NTEU survey of members on their experience of SELTS surveys. The survey was conducted between 17 April and 4 May 2018. There were 3,065 responses of which around 2,500 contained enough information to be included in the analysis. Unfortunately only 9% of respondents were fixed term and 10% casually employed, which is at variance with the actual proportion in the sector where just over one-third of actual staff are securely employed.

Almost 60% of 2,500 respondents reported that their experience was of a 30% or less response rate on student evaluation surveys. But well under one-in-five of all respondents reported that they thought that the evaluations gave an accurate measure of their performance. Almost nine-in-ten reported that they think that surveys are used to appraise and manage staff performance. Amongst the contract and casually employed respondents, 77% thought that the surveys were used to assess their performance and 82% thought they were used in deciding upon contract renewal. Casually employed respondents were less convinced, with just 50% saying they were used to assess performance and 48% for contract renewal. Less than 15%, though, were satisfied with the ways that the surveys were used. Six-in-ten survey respondents felt that SELTS could be used to inform and improve teaching or the delivery of subjects of units, but only four-in-ten agreed that they were used for this purpose.

Abusive comments The prompt to conduct this survey was that there were reports by staff of students making disrespectful and abusive comments. Unfortunately, six out of ten respondents to the NTEU survey said that some students had used SELTS to make disrespectful and abusive comments. This included 59% of contract employed and 53% of casually employed respondents. Based on open ended responses, by far the most common category of these comments related to an individual’s competency to teach a subject. Other common themes were comments about gender, cultural background and spoken English, age (too old and too young), personality/attitude, favouritism and political views. These were small numbers of responses, and of course those with something to report may have been more likely to respond – just like the students with an axe to grind! Seven-in-ten respondents who reported on comments also recorded feeling more distressed, angered, fearful, self-conscious or embarrassed after reading the comments. A few also reported experiencing real physical symptoms including loss of sleep or appetite or loss of motivation. However, only about a quarter of respondents (17% of contract and casual) made an official complaint. And in only one-inten cases was the complaint followed up. Very little effort seems to have been made to identify or discipline students. A common response to a formal complaint was to offer the staff member support or counselling, or modifying the reports by the removal or redaction of offensive or abusive comments.


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Semester 2, 2018

NTEU Branches who are trying to raise these matters have had little traction. Telling students that you should be abiding by the student code of conduct and not be abusive just gets management off the hook. It is an inadequate response to the raft of professional and personal concerns. There appears to be little management response to the questioning the legitimacy of making decisions on staff performance, promotion and continued employment on the basis of surveys with an under 30% response rate. Staff are just told to encourage students to fill out the surveys to increase their validity. In some places management disputes that student evaluations matter that much. It is only one of the metrics used in performance assessment they claim; but staff are not assured. Those applying for jobs cite their student evaluation surveys results, and casuals registering for work are asked for them. But it is disturbing that one in five respondents either ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ considered amending assessment grades or feedback so that students rate their teaching more favourably. This response was higher amongst staff on contracts compared to the average. If some staff even consider giving students more favourable grades in the belief that would improve students’ evaluations of their teaching and prevent harassment, then the student evaluations have the potential to significantly undermine academic integrity.

“We have to do them” So why are universities doing these surveys? Interestingly, at one university, staff questioning the surveys were told that universities have to do these to get their government grants. Not so! Certainly universities must have measures of quality assurance. But these now ubiquitous SELTS are not mandatory. Given these results, there is little wonder that just over one in ten respondents were satisfied with the SELTS at their institution. Not only are the value of these evaluations all but meaningless in terms of appraising or managing staff performance, they also potentially raise workplace health and safety issues, as well as maybe even cases of unlawful discrimination. NTEU recommends that universities abandon the SELTS. Look out for the report on the survey, Staff experience of student evaluation of teaching and Subjects/units, at

North American universities ditching SELTS A recent article in Inside Higher Education (22 May 2018), reported recent decisions by some US universities to abandon standardised online onesize-fits-all evaluation, not only because they do not the job they are supposed to, but also because of concern about “mounting evidence of bias in student evaluations of teaching against female and minority instructors in particular.” It seems that institutions are trailing other methods. In July, the University of Oregon, following the University of Southern California, announced to students and staff that they are revising their approach to student evaluations. A recent arbitration award between the Ryerson Faculty Association and Ryerson University found for the Association, an affiliate of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which have been challenging the SELTS model for years. The arbitrator rejected over reliance on the SELTS and accepted that the best way to assess teaching effectiveness is through the careful assessment of the teaching dossier and in-class peer evaluations. In addition to identifying several items for the parties to work on together (developing guidelines, modes of presenting results, and a successor questionnaire) and requiring discontinuation of online questionnaires in stipulated situations, the arbitrator ordered that the: • Ryerson Faculty Association Collective Agreement be amended to ensure that SELT results are not used in measuring teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure. • Numerical rating system be replaced with an alphabetical one. • Summary question of overall effectiveness be removed from the questionnaire. • Parties ensure that administrators and committee members charged with evaluating faculty are educated in the inherent and systemic biases in SELTs.

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NTEU's recently updated analysis of the latest university employment data is entitled The Flood of Insecure Employment at Australian Universities 2018.



of insecure work

While there has been considerable growth in the overall level of employment in recent years, this growth has been accompanied by significant change in the staffing of our universities. This change is event in three main ways: increasing insecurity of employment, increasing feminisation of the university workforce, and increasing specialisation of university work. While there is no doubt that changing government policies may have been a catalyst for some of these changes, decisions about who to employ, in what roles and under what conditions of employment are ultimately a university management decision. Claims that changing employment patterns, especially the increased reliance on casual positions and limited term contracts, reflects changing employee preferences is nothing but a myth perpetrated by management. While such practices might yield university management short term gains in terms of reduced staffing costs and greater flexibility, NTEU is concerned that such changes will not only have dreadful impacts on financial and broader wellbeing of individuals seeking a university career, but ultimately that such as an approach will undermine the sustainability and reputation of Australia’s world class universities.

Increasing insecurity By Paul Kniest Policy & Research Coordinator

Unfortunately, WGEA data only covers four years which is too short to show any distinct trends. However, NTEU analysis of Department of Education and Training (which assumes four individual employees per published full time equivalent (FTE) casual) shows that the level of insecure employment (casuals plus limited term contract employees) has risen sharply since the turn of the millennium - Figure 1. What was previously described as a rising tide of insecure employment has clearly turned into a flood as the workforces of universities are being inundated by people employed as casuals and on limited term contracts. The fact that only just over one in three university employee has secure employment is something that we cannot ignore.

Image credit: iimages/123rf


Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

The latest comprehensive count of the number of employees (headcount) engaged by our universities is contained in 201617 staffing profiles published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) which show that Australian universities employed a total of 213,378 employees. Of this 93,001 (43.8%) were employed on a casual basis, 44,383 (20.8%) were on limited contracts with the remaining 75,994 (35.6%) being permanent employees. In other words, just over one in three people employed at our universities has a secure job.

Semester 2, 2018

Female 64%

Casuals Levels D & E Level C Level B Level A



58% 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Fig. 1: Share of Australian University Workforce with Insecure (Casual + Limited Term) Employment, 2000 to 2017 Number of employees = Estimated Casual FTE x 4. Source:

Increasing feminisation Increasing insecurity of employment has been accompanied by increasing feminisation of the university workforce. The analysis of FTE employment between 2005 and 2016 shows that growth in female FTE for both academic (46.5%) and general/ professional (44.7%) was almost twice that of male FTE (23.1%). As a consequence our analysis shows that the female share of total FTE increased from about 52% in 2005 to 56% in 2016. This is congruent with the 58.3% female share of the number (headcount) of employees according to the 2016-17 WGEA data. Our analysis by gender and type of work and contract of employment shows that in 2016 the largest cohort of employees (26,688 FTE) were tenured female general/professional staff, who accounted for 21% of all FTE. Tenured male general/professional staff make up the second largest cohort of FTE positions (14,990 FTE) accounting for 11.8% of all, followed by tenured teaching and research male academics (12,034 FTE) and then female limited term contract general/professional positions (11,281 FTE). While the analysis of the data does not show any bias against women compared to men in terms of insecure employment, it does shows a very real bias when it comes to levels of employment. As seen in Fig. 2, there is a clear inverse relationship between the level of appointment for both academic and general/professional staff and the proportion of females that fill those positions.

Increasing specialisation In addition to increasing insecurity and feminisation of the Australian university workforce, the analysis also shows a distinct increase in the specialisation of university workforce. A slight increase in the proportion of general/professional (52% to 53%) staff

VC/DVC Sen Exec Levels 9 & 10 Levels 7 & 8 Levels 5 & 6 Level 4 & below


58.1% 41.9% Academic (excl Casuals) 32.5% 67.5% 44.9% 55.1% 52.2% 47.8% 51.3% 48.7% General/Professional (excl Casuals) 37.2% 62.8% 44.9% 55.1% 52.9% 47.1% 59.1% 40.9% 70.7% 29.3% 72.5% 27.5%

Fig. 2: Female/Male Share of University Workforce FTE by Level of Appointment, 2016 Source: Department of Education and Training data supplied on request

contrasts with a far more dramatic movements in the composition of the academic workforce over the same period. The data shows that in 2005 teaching and research academics accounted for 56% of all academic FTE but by 2016 (barely over a decade later) this had fallen to only 46% of all academic FTE. Amongst academic staff the largest contributors to total growth in total FTE were casual teaching-only positions (15% of the total increase in FTE 2005–2016) followed by limited term research only (10% of total increase in FTE). Tenured teaching and research positions accounted for only 2.6% of all the new positions created between 2005 and 2016. Indeed while female tenured academics contributed 4.3% of this growth FTE male tenured academic positions fell by 554 FTE contributing -1.7% to overall growth. The analysis shows that the shift to more specialisation, at least amongst academic positions, and increasing insecurity are intimately linked. For academic positions, the type of role you are employed to do is a major determinant of your contract of employment. Eight-out-of-ten teaching-only FTE are filled by casuals and eight-out-of-ten research-only FTE are filled by limited term contracts. So it is worth asking whether the trend to greater specialisation of academic roles is being driven: 1) by a desire to improve the quality of teaching and research through a process of Taylorisation of the academic work; or 2) by a management culture committed to cost cutting and labour flexibility? The answer to this question has important implications not only for the nature of employment at our universities but also for the sustainability and reputation of Australia’s higher education sector. The Flood of Insecure Employment at Australian Universities 2018

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Unlocking the democratic activism of university casuals By Dr Audrey Statham Deakin University

Unlocking the spirit of democracy was considered by educator and philosopher John Dewey to be essential for combatting “vested interests” that are “powerfully on the side of the status quo”. True democracy, Dewey argued, means that everyone should have the right to have a say in how their work environment is run. A key aspiration of the half-day professional development workshop that NTEU Deakin Branch ran on 1 May for casual academic and professional staff was to unlock the democratic spirit of activism through bringing casuals together to learn about our rights at work, deliberate about the aims of the work we do and learn how to plan for tackling the challenges we face. The impetus to organise a workshop grew out of my experience as a casual teaching academic who is excluded from the university’s intellectual life and socially isolated due to the lack of forums for engaging with other casuals. It was after I found out that the Australian Education Union (AEU) runs an annual professional development day for members that I hit on the idea that a half-day workshop for casuals designed and run by NTEU casuals in collaboration with the Branch and Division might offer another way for our union to address this exclusion and social isolation experienced by university casuals nationwide.

To carry forward this new momentum, we are planning to expand the workshop which will be run at Division level soon (date to be confirmed). Nothing less will suffice if we are going to take up the task of contributing to the renewal of our union and combatting neoliberalism by creating such spaces for fostering casual activism animated by the driving force of true democracy.

Dewey, J. (2013). A common faith, Yale University Press, New Haven. Dewey, J. (2008). ‘Democracy in education’, in J. Dewey, J. Boydston, P.R. Baysinger & D. Rucker (eds), John Dewey: The middle works, 1899-1924, volume 3, 1903-1906, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, pp. 229-239.

This article was originally published in Advocate, vol. 25, no. 2, July 2018.

Held at Victorian Division offices, the workshop was introduced by Division Secretary Colin Long with a line-up that showcased the rich expertise of members and staff: Dr Piper Rodd (Deakin) presented a session on engaging students through critical pedagogy,

Connect // Volume 11, no. 2

Through creating this unique forum to bringing casuals together around issues that directly affect them and are of relevance to casuals, the workshop clearly demonstrated the value NTEU membership can offer current casual members in attracting new members.


I contacted the NTEU's National Union Education Officer, Helena Spyrou, who offered feedback on the program I had drafted and gave advice about NTEU resources. Then I took the plan to Deakin’s Casual Action Committee and Branch for their consideration. After incorporating amendments, it was agreed that Deakin Branch would run the workshop in conjunction with the Deakin Supercasuals campaign.


Jesse Page presented on industrial rights, Noel Gardiner ran a listening post for professional staff, Helena Spyrou gave a talk on preparing academic job applications, Ken McAlpine spoke about the significance of the union movement for casuals and ‘Change the Rules’, and Gaurav Nanda informed participants about the Supercasuals campaign.

Semester 2, 2018

Image: NT Division President, Darius Pfitzner at the 2018 Darwin May Day rally. Credit: Delia Lawrie

Tax implications for casual staff By Gaurav Nanda Victorian Division Recruitment & Campaign Organiser

Another tax year is gone, and it’s time to get ready to file tax returns. Like everyone else, casual staff members who have earned more than $18,200 for the financial year, must lodge income tax returns. Even if you made less than $18,200 but your employer withheld tax, you must lodge a tax return.

Abstudy living allowance, or any other government payment must be declared.

Investment income According to the ATO rules, when you invest money that generates income, it must be declared. Rental income, dividend income, interest income are all part of the investment income that should be added to your tax returns.

Business income

As a casual staff member in higher education, a lot of us work in different universities at one time or have a second job elsewhere. Due to this, the deductions that we can claim could be higher compared to if we work only at one university. Record keeping for all your expenses for work is imperative when claiming for tax deductions. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) advises to keep records for five years from the date you receive notice of assessment. Always make sure that you are being honest and truthful about what you’re claiming. If unsure, please double check with your accountant or contact ATO for further clarifications.

Lodging your tax return Self lodgment As an individual, you can either file tax returns on your own or use a licensed tax agent. If you’re lodging the taxes on you own, please make sure it’s done by 31 October. ATO can give you a fine of $180 for every 28 days late in filling return which go up to $900.

Using a tax agent For quick turnarounds for refund and professional lodgment, it’s recommended to use a tax agent to file returns. When using tax agents, you may get an extension to lodge your returns generally allowable until 31 March of the following year. However, you must register with a tax agent before 31 October.

What you can claim as income Salary and wages Income that you receive as payment of services from an employer under a contract also called employment contract. If you’re working for few universities, or working part time at any other organisation this income must be declared in your returns.

Income that you generate from running a business, selling products or services, is also considered a declarable income. Business could be functional as sole trader, partnership, trust or company structure.

Capital gains Assets capital gain or loss can also considered in your tax deductions. As this could be a little complicated, advice from an accountant or ATO is recommended.

What you can claim as tax deductions Certain expenses that are incurred to generate income from the sources mentioned above are considered as tax deductions claims. If your claims exceed a total of $300, you must have a proof of that expense. Below are some of the common deductions that you can claim in your tax returns: • Bank fees • Car expenses • Clothing • Donations and gifts • Home office • Insurance • Rental property expenses • Travel expenses • Union and Professional association fees • Excursions school trips and camps • Self-education expenses • Accountant fees for filling tax returns • Teaching aids. For the comprehensive NTEU Tax Guide 2018, please visit

Government income Allowances and payment that you receive from the Government such as, youth allowance, partner allowance,

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1998 2018

Celebrating 20 years of member benefits

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Discover how you could save by visiting your NTEU benefits website:

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Prepared by UniSuper Management Pty Ltd (ABN 91 006 961 799, AFSL 235 907) on behalf of UniSuper Limited (ABN 54 006 027 121, AFSL 492806) the trustee of UniSuper (ABN 91 385 943 850). This information is of a general nature only. Before making any decision in relation to your UniSuper membership, you should consider your personal circumstances, the relevant product disclosure statement for your membership category and whether to consult a qualified financial adviser. The SuperRatings Fundamentals reports from 31 January 2018 show UniSuper’s “Balanced (MySuper) option has outperformed the SuperRatings SR50 Balanced Index over the 5 years to 30 June 2017 and over the long term”. UniSuper is a SuperRatings’ ‘Infinity Recognised’ fund for our strong commitment to environmental and social principles. UniSuper was named Best Insurance Offering in the 2017 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards. The March 2018 Chant West Super Fee Survey report showed UniSuper’s Balanced (MySuper) investment option has the lowest overall fees in Australia for multi-manager growth options (61-80% growth assets) for a $250,000 balance, and second and fourth lowest for $50,000 and $25,000 balances respectively. Visit for more information. *Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.