Students intervened when Swinburne staff were embroiled in a pay dispute

“We do not agree with and deeply regret the use of students’ grades, part of their future careers, by the NTEU method. [National Tertiary Education Union] We need a fair and reasonable outcome for this process.

Two unions, the NTEU and the Australian Education Union, are involved in negotiations.

Elaine Gillespie, vice-president of the TAFE division of the UEA, denied claims that students had been affected by the partial suspension, which began in September last year.

Except for restrictions on attendance and grades, they apply to students who have completed their course within six months or any grade that is a prerequisite for advancement.

“As a teacher, your students are your number one priority,” Gillespie said.

NTEU Swinburne branch president Julie Kimber said students “didn’t even know teachers had a partial ban” until the university reinforced its stance last Friday.

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The university on Thursday announced an annual salary increase for professional staff of 3.25 per cent plus 15 per cent superannuation, or 3.5 per cent plus 12 per cent super.

But in response, it proposed the “removal of the annual leave load” and restrictions on conversion to permanent or continuous employment, linked to the financial viability of courses and not providing funding for a future course.

Jonathan Lane has taught as part of Swinburne’s Adult Migrant English program for more than 10 years, but never permanently.

He is currently suspended from work and is working on a strike fund from the unions, which he said could last for several more weeks.

“My situation is not hopeless, but I have to work,” he said.

Lane works three shifts a week at the Swinburne campus teaching English to new immigrants and refugees as part of a federally funded employment program.

“I’m very happy, I’ve taught people from everywhere and that’s fun,” he said.

But Lane, 56, said he wanted the security of permanent employment after several years on temporary contracts.

“I’ve had a 6½-year contract, I’ve been asked on several occasions to be permanent,” he said.

On Thursday, the workers protested at the Hawthorn campus. A teacher, who asked not to be named, said the part-time workers did not stop teaching until this week, when the administration prevented them from doing so.

“We have never stopped teaching, we have put our students first, we have fought hard to overcome covid, we have extended hours to pass students.

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