University of Sydney staff went on strike for the fifth time in a year on 9 March. Tutors, lecturers and professional staff refused to teach classes, answer emails or attend to their regular duties for 24 hours. Eastern Avenue, normally a densely packed thoroughfare, was deserted. Fisher Library, where most students go to study on campus, was empty. The only activity occurred at the entrances to campus, where the National Tertiary Education Union had formed picket lines of staff, supported by students, to enforce the strike.
University bosses have ripped off workers to the tune of $83 million over the last three years, according to the National Tertiary Education Union, which has uncovered widespread wage theft across the sector.
“Work. Metro. Grave.” Macabre but astute, the slogan has adorned banners and placards carried by millions of French workers demonstrating against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to increase the official retirement age from 62 to 64. The slogan distils into three words how French workers feel about having two years of rest and leisure stolen from them and handed over to the bosses.
Days after winning office, Foreign Minister Penny Wong pledged to the Pacific Islands Forum that the Labor government would expand the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme (PALM). In January, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese backed the Papua New Guinea government’s ambition to have 8,000 workers participate.
Hundreds of nurses and midwives walked off the job at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney on Thursday. In response to stalled negotiation, blue-scrub-clad members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association rallied outside the Darlinghurst hospital and the Mater Hospital in North Sydney for a one-hour stoppage at 1pm.
Union coverage, in steady decline since the early 1980s, took another sharp turn for the worse in 2022. The latest figures, released by the Bureau of Statistics in mid-December, show that membership has fallen by 76,000 in two years, to 1.4 million, even as the workforce has grown. The outcome is that just one in eight workers in Australia are now union members, down from one in two 40 years ago.