Casuals have had a significant win against outsourcing at Sydney University, as negotiations continue for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA). The university runs an employment agency for students called SydneyTalent. Since 2012, it has been using this agency to employ thousands of people, including in ICT, the library, finance and as research assistants. Staff receive far lower pay and worse conditions than if they were employed directly through the university.
Casual staff raised their experiences with the agency when they began meeting earlier this year. One staff member was offered a job earning $20 an hour less than if he was employed directly.
When the NTEU bargaining team met with university management recently they told them that casuals were planning to expose the exploitation of staff through SydneyTalent. Management caved and have agreed that anyone who works at the university through SydneyTalent will be covered by the next EBA on the same pay and conditions as regular staff.
But there is more to be done. The university has refused to include other outsourcing agencies under the EBA. We need to step the campaign up to win the same rights for these workers and secure better conditions for all casuals. Balloting is currently underway to allow NTEU members at the university to take industrial action.
By Vivian Honan