Posts for education dept

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.