A vocal protest has called on Victoria University’s governing council to reverse the sacking of three staff who believe they were targetted for being union representatives.
Victoria University management last month rejected accusations it is deliberately sacking union branch officers in a bid to cripple the voice of staff ahead of new negotiations, a matter that has also been raised in state parliament.
Star Weekly reported that National Tertiary Education Union branch president Paul Adams, vice president Stuart Martin and secretary David Garland claimed they were all made redundant just as a new enterprise bargaining period opened in an attempt to weaken the union.
A rowdy protest on Thursday outside a VU Council meeting called for the council to step in and reverse the sacking.
Dr Adams told the protest that union members and students will not be bullied.
“What they need to realise upstairs is that they can sack us, they can outlaw us, but we help each other,” he said.
“We will continue to work together and we will win.”
Greens Senator Janet Rice told the protest that VU has a proud history of providing education to everyone regardless of their background, but it has shifted away from its mission.
She said the university could have stood up with the NTEU, staff and students and said to the federal government “enough is enough” and demanded no more funding cuts.
“But instead they have kowtowed to the government, have rolled over and asked the government to tickle their tummy,” she said.
NTEU national president Jeannie Rea said VU management has taken “an unprecedented antagonistic attitude” towards the NTEU.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the issue was about fairness and sticking together.
“They are engaged in the most vicious cutbacks they have ever had.”
The protest comes after western suburbs Greens MP asked Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney in parliament what she believes the state government can do to “stop VU’s union-busting tactics”.
Ms Tierney said Ms Hartland had raised “very serious allegations” but that her department was making inquiries of Victoria University management to better understand the issues.
“Of course we are wanting to know what the impact of any of these measures is on students and on courses and their availability,” she said.
“I have asked for a full list of courses that may be impacted as a result of other actions that may be taken at the university in respect of academic and support staff.”
The ‘Friends of VU’ group has also collected more than 100 names on an open letter to the vice chancellor Peter Dawkins and the Victoria University Council demanding a halt on the forced redundancies of the NTEU officials and a moratorium on further changes until a proper assessment on the impact can be made.
A VU spokeswoman last month said any assertions regarding the targeting of individuals “are completely false”.