Posts for education dept

Casey Thompson asks you to rally for your rights

What the HECS?! Why is my education a debt sentence!?

This Wednesday, the 27th of March, is the National Union of Students’ (NUS) National Day of Action (NDA). Students across the country are rallying in their capital cities to ask the government “Hey Baby Boomers – Where’s our Education Revolution?” The day is to remind politicians that “[We won’t] pay more for less: our education is not for profit.” Your local NDA event will be starting at 1pm at The University of Technology’s Broadway campus, where students from across the state will march up City Road to The University of Sydney. There will be speakers at the beginning and end of the march, sharing their experiences on our current education crisis and what we can do to fight for quality, free, education.

A central demand of the rally is that our government abolishes the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) and provides free-universal education for all. Both Tony Abbott (Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws) and Julia Gillard (Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws) received their degrees under the free education policy introduced by Gough Whitlam in 1974. Therefore, the exact people who have never had education debt to repay are trying to increase ours. I’d say that’s a little more than slightly hypocritical.

In 1989 the Hawke Government introduced the HECS system and in 1990 the average university graduate took approximately 8.5 months to repay their debt. This has been increasing ever since. In 2000 it took an average of 5.9 years to repay and by 2010 it was a huge 7.9 years worth of repayments. Now, in 2013, the average student must spend a decade repaying their HECS. (This is of course only domestic students, as most international students who study in Australia are required to pay their fees upfront.) This is unacceptable. Education should be provided free of charge by the state. It should be accessible to all. If we redirected the $24.2 billion/ annum national defense budget towards education, we could make huge advancements in the quality of education and serious reductions in the cost to students.

If you don’t want to leave university with over a decade’s worth of debt to repay, join the NDA march and help us send a strong message that students are serious about demanding the education revolution that we were promised

Casey Thompson
education.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Tenaya Alattas pick(et)s scabs

A scab is a dry, rough incrustation of matted blood, debris, clot, and pus that forms over a wound or sore.  A scab is also a derogatory term for a dislikeable or contemptible person, especially one who is unreliable: a scoundrel. Within the trade union movement the pejorative label for a strike-breaker is a scab; to describe those who refuse to join, break or work in place of others on strike. A scab is, in summary, a person that some students/staff will find deeply offensive during the 48-hour strike next week.

The offence the scab causes is not for the individual act or crime against the rule of law. In fact, every major victory relating to your rights surrounding work were achieved with direct actions that were, in their time, illegal and subject to police repression. In the US for example, up until the 1930s.

The laws surrounding labor unions and strikes were simple—there were none. Thereby the scorn afforded to scabs  goes far deeper than breaking the law.
Rather, the offense of scabbing is to undermine the idea, purpose and effect of the workers on strike. The idea behind strike action is simple and powerful: if the terms and conditions of work are not acceptable to workers then no work shall be done. More than a protest, a stunt or a means to draw attention to a cause, the purpose of a strike is to cause a disruption. And while it may often disrupt people who didn’t really cause the problem, it’s the very disruption that produces an effect. That is by disrupting management and employers; a strike costs them money and time.

To scab is to bolster the economic and moral position of the employer. Management will say they do not have enough money to afford staff batter pay and conditions, arguing that the NTEU and CPSU are “greedy” with “gold plated” conditions. However one must only look at the million dollar salaries of management who are crying poor to see this is not a question of there not being enough money – but rather question of power. Striking shifts the balance of power towards the general/academic staff to enable maximum leverage in negotiations for better terms, conditions and wages. So if you don’t want to be called a scab next week, don’t go to class or cross the picket line.

Tenaya Alattas
Joint SRC Education Officer

Education Officers Report

On Thursday the 7th of March over two hundred staff members, and several hundred students, came together to form picket lines around the university. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) led the industrial action against university management’s proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). The EBA plans to strip staff of their conditions and destroy the high quality of education that students expect, and deserve, from the prestigious University of Sydney (a university with a budgetary surplus of $93 million).

The student solidarity contingent was organised by the Education Action Group (EAG). The EAG is a collective of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) that runs all of the education campaigns that keep our university strong. Last year the EAG organised the fight back against the proposed cut of 340 academic and general staff. The campaign was a huge success with thousands rallying on Eastern Avenue and the majority of the staff jobs being saved. The EAG is calling on all students who value their staff, and their education, to once again join us in 2013. Last Thursday was just the beginning of the current campaign. The NTEU will most likely be taking rolling industrial action (i.e.: more strikes will take place over the coming weeks, and they are likely to be longer in duration than Thursday’s 24 hour stoppage.)

If you don’t want to join your fellow students and staff during these strikes, please at least skip class (and take a few days off to chill out from study!). You may wonder how missing a lecture or tutorial could ever be good for your education. These protests are needed if we are to preserve the high quality education that we receive here, if we are to stop overcrowding of classes and a decreased quality of teaching and academic support, throughout our entire degrees. We’re here for several years. A few days off to send a strong message that we won’t pay for low quality education, is worth it to get a high quality degree. If you really are concerned with missing out on your education then this is the movement to join, because if you don’t, our degrees will be devalued and we’ll miss out every day of the year. Fight for the quality working conditions our staff deserve and the quality education that we deserve.