Date: Mon, 15 Sep 1997 15:53:47 -0700
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
Subject: [PEN-L:12326] ANU Struggle (fwd)
Rick Kuhn, at Australian National University
From Rick Kuhn, Australian National University
15 September 1997
Arts Faculty academics are banning teaching for the whole of next week.
There will also be a two day strike in solidarity by the whole of the union
(which covers academic and most general staff) on campus. So the campaign
is going well. There has also been some statements by eminent venerable
academics with ANU associations who have condemned the cuts. Management are
supposed to come up with a new plan for Arts in late October.
What follows is the latest union leaflet distributed here. I drafted it. If
you want the pretty version I can send it as a Word for Windows email
All the best
Why we're striking against job cuts
The flaws in ANU management's plans to eliminate jobs, departments,
research facilities and courses are becoming clearer to a wide range of
people, not just staff at ANU. Eminent figures, including Sir Mark
Oliphant and Professor Frank Fenner (whose name is on Fenner Hall) have
condemned the cuts. The Vice-Chancellor wants to eliminate 20% of the Arts
Faculty. Emeritus Professor Bernhard Neumann, a member of the Australian
Academy of Science, has asked "Arts is at the heart of a university, if you
cut out the heart, what life remains?".
The Division of Archaeology"Natural History in RSPAS is being abolished,
along with the Archives of Business"Labour History (Noel Butlin Archives)
and the Economic History Department in RSSS. The Archive is a national
resource and it is a privilege for the ANU to house it. "Disposing" of the
Archive can only undermine the ANU's national and international reputation.
The same goes for the vandalising of Archaeology and Natural History,
which has a world-wide reputation for excellence in research.
No financial justification
Robbing ANU workers of their livelihoods, and robbing students of
supervisors and courses, can't be justified on academic grounds. But it
isn't even financially justifiable. On the income side the ANU has:
How much of this money is being allocated to saving jobs, skills or
intellectual resources? None.
- a $46 million boost to ANU revenue this year, thanks to a refund
from its Commonwealth Superannuation Reserve Account;
- further tens of millions of dollars from selling off
- saved $2 million alone through renegotiated electricity tariffs.
On the expenditure side:
- $5.5 million is going to a new building to house the MBA and other
programs (with its long line of credit from central administration, despite
its financial losses);
- tens of millions of dollars are being squirreled away for the
indefinite future in the "Endowment for Excellence".
Instead of using the money to employ committed and capable staff today and
to preserve existing excellence, management want to put it aside for
indefinite future purposes. The VC can't see the irony. Unfortunately,
the laugh is on us.
Do we deserve punishment?
Management argues that the areas being cut deserve it. They've accused
Arts of being profligate in its spending. But the disparity between
DEETYA's student funding formula and the way money is allocated within the
ANU means that Arts has been cross-subsidising other Faculties (apart from
Economics) to the tune of around $700,000 a year for five years. Between
1995 and 1998 Arts will already have lost about forty academic positions,
through retirements, through "natural" attrition (read non-renewal of
contracts) and through "voluntary""" (read not being given any other choice)
redundancies. The current cuts are on top of these.
Last year the History Department made three new appointments. This year it
is supposed to get rid of three positions. Senior University managers
approved those appointments. The problem isn't the people working in the
Faculty, but the way it and the University have been managed.
As for the Noel Butlin Archives, of course they don't make money. But they
do help us understand the nature of Australian society and the development
of both trade unions and business in Australia. The changes in RSSS and
RSPAS aren't about money, either. These changes are being made because the
research schools are being focused on providing advice for government, and
naturally, archaeology is way down on the list of government priorities.
Staff are being made involuntarily redundant so that the ANU can tell the
Federal government what it wants to hear about the state of the nation.
Management now appears to be saying that there may only be a few other
involuntary redundancies in the Faculties outside Arts this year. But they
have proved that their guarantees can't be trusted. The situation in a
number of research schools is still unclear. But if the Vice-Chancellor is
successful in picking off Arts and sections of RSSS and RSPAS this year,
then no jobs or areas are safe.
Given management's track record, we can expect them to shift priorities
again, depending on Amanda Vanstone's latest fad. That will mean further
raids on other areas of the University. If an area is alleged to have
financial problems then, like Arts, it too will be made to sack people,
cover the costs of redundancy payments and get back into the black in a
couple of years. The longer term prospects for enrolments, let alone the
intrinsic value of its activities, won't be considered at all.
Are there alternatives to striking?
The National Tertiary Education Union has been making representations to
management about the threatened cuts for months. So have staff members in
the areas being cut. The Vice-Chancellor and his assistants have
consistently ignored us. We have also been in touch with sympathetic
members of Council, ANU's governing body. But the majority of Council
members have unquestioningly followed where Deane Terrell has led. Student
and staff representatives are in a small minority.
The NTEU has widely publicised the vandalism involved in the
Vice-Chancellor's priorities in the press. Other groups inside and outside
the University have also started serious media campaigns against the cuts
as well. Students and staff have demonstrated against the cuts - around
1000 people participated in the rally of 27 August. And NTEU members have
held a series of stopwork meetings and a week of rolling stoppages.
Because management has still not budged, we either have to give up on a
serious campaign or escalate it. NTEU members in the Arts Faculty have
decided to ban teaching for a week from Monday 15 September, risking the
loss of a week's pay. On 9 September a well-publicised campus-wide union
meeting voted overwhelmingly to back them up with a two-day strike on 17
and 18 September.
Without our labour the University cannot function normally. The industrial
action makes it clear that management in the University is incapable of
managing effectively, and has lost the trust, support and loyalty of staff.
It puts pressure on them to draw back from the most serious aspect of
their inability to manage: the decisions to abolish large numbers of staff
Help make the industrial action successful: persuade other ANU workers,
inside and outside the NTEU, to join in; send protest letters to the
Vice-Chancellor (Prof. D. Terrell, ANU ACT 0200); and participate on the
picket lines. Don't let management steal our jobs from us, and an
educational future from students.
Department of Political Science
Australian National University