AHEIA insults casual academics: RMIT NTEU calls upon VC to respond

The rampant casualisation of the university sector is a key focus of the NTEU, evidenced in the NTEU submission to the Australian Government’s University Accord , the national NTEU Log of Claims for this round of enterprise bargaining and a crucial part of the RMIT branch platform.

On Thursday May 4th the ABC reported on the huge turnout of NTEU members undertaking industrial action and workplace rallies for improved working conditions in universities across Victoria. The article included a disturbing quote attributed to the Executive Director of the Australian Higher Education Industry Association, Craig Laughton. RMIT is a paid member of the AHEIA.

The NTEU notes that insecure (casual) staff make up 55% of the teaching workforce and have provided engagement and successful outcomes for RMIT students in the most challenging of times.

Insecure (casual) academics have no security of employment and work under precarious conditions. Attempts by the NTEU to “convert” these insecure (casual) staff to ongoing academic positions at RMIT have been stubbornly refuted.

It was therefore, an affront to the NTEU RMIT branch and all RMIT members to read quotes attributed to Craig Laughton (AHEIA), where he noted that there is ‘some merit’ in converting insecure (casual) academics to ongoing positions, but in order to obtain ongoing academic roles, insecure (casual) academics have to ‘be good.’

"There is some merit in more secure employment for 'treadmill academics' but there's not a right in Australia to have a job as an academic. You have to be good," (AHEIA - University staff strike over insecure work as 'anger and discontent' builds on campus - ABC News)

These comments reflect a failure to understand, or engage with the concerns and conditions of insecure (casual) academics. It is a cruel devaluing of their skills, knowledge, work ethic and experience. It is an insult to the hardworking insecure (casual) academics at RMIT.

Insecure (casual) academics at RMIT enrich the educational lives of our students, produce research that benefits the Victorian, Australian and global community, and maintain core operations at the ‘coalface’ of our university.

As AHEIA is the body representing the higher education sector and Australian vice chancellors, The NTEU Branch wrote to the Vice Chancellor, calling upon him to clarify the RMIT position in relation to these comments by AHEIA.

Specifically- Does the VC support these comments and believe that RMIT casually (insecurely) employed academics are simply not good enough for ongoing employment, manageable workloads, and improved working conditions?

The NTEU awaits a response.

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