To: Attila Brungs, Vice Chancellor, University of Technology Sydney
Pledge your support for job security at UTS
A University committed to social justice must be committed to job security for its staff. We call on UTS management to move away from its current massive reliance on casual and fixed-term contracts and pledge to provide greater job security for UTS staff.
As a first step, UTS should address the disparity between permanent staff and their casual and fixed-term colleagues by improving rights to convert to ongoing positions, and by providing the same superannuation entitlements to ALL university employees.
If UTS management can commit to a $1 billion+ campus renewal program, they must also pledge to invest in more secure employment for the University's greatest asset - the people whose work makes UTS what it is.
Why is this important?
Two thirds of Australian workers have a permanent job, but at UTS more than 75% of the university's 8000+ employees are either casual or on fixed-term contracts. This is strikingly similar to the employment profile of McDonald's and not what you might expect from "Australia's #1 young university".
The decision by UTS management to employ the majority of people on insecure contracts is at odds with the university's public commitment to social justice, and has negative consequences for UTS staff, students and the university as a whole.
Most striking is the fact that the face of teaching at UTS is now likely to be that of an insecure worker. The majority of teaching is performed by casual academics facing some of the highest student-staff ratios in NSW, who have no access to paid leave, no permanent office for research or student consultation, who receive 9.5% superannuation when their permanent teaching colleagues receive 17%, who aren't contracted to consult sufficiently with students, and who have no security of employment from semester to semester. Many are forced to work at multiple universities to make ends meet.
Having the vast majority of staff in insecure jobs means thousands of UTS workers are treated as second class employees who face material challenges such as not being able to plan for their future, having difficulty getting a home loan, and having no access to annual leave, sick leave or parental leave. Shamefully, many casual and fixed-term staff have been working in the same jobs for several years - jobs that are clearly ongoing.
Through such practices, UTS management are preventing staff from fully participating in University life - which is entirely counterproductive to achieving the university's goal of becoming a world-class university of technology.
There is obviously a need at times for short-term casual and fixed-term employment arrangements, but UTS's reliance on such forms of employment is exploitative.
A public institution receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars every year is surely obligated to invest in secure jobs and treat staff with respect.
Staff deserve better.
Students deserve better.
You deserve better.