I wish to express solidarity with the striking members of my former union, the National Tertiary Education Union.
I worked and studied at the University of Queensland (UQ) from 1967 till 1977. I was employed by various departments (Vet Science (Dept of Parasitology), Medicine (School of Anatomy), Psychology, and Zoology, both as a full time and casual non-academic worker. Later, about 2004-5 I was employed at Queensland University of Technology as a typesetter.
A number of people have told me that they regarded their employment at University, a dream job, such is their dedication to their area of teaching and/or research.
Back in the 60s I was a member of the Technical and Laboratory Staffing Association (T.A.L.S.A.) and was very poorly paid (I started on $27 per week in 1967 as a laboratory cadet. The following year this was raised to $32 per week). The average earnings for a week’s work in 1965-66 was $57 and minimum wages for women were set around 30 per cent lower than for men.
I wish to acknowledge the work done by my old union, TALSA (I was a financial member from 1968 – 1975) to improve our wages and entitlements. They struggled against the discriminatory policies of the University of Queensland senate. There was an historic moment in that struggle on International Women’s Day 1973. I quote from an unsigned article ‘Senate rejects Submission‘ in 2.4.73 edition of Semper Floreat, the UQ Student Union newspaper:
Discrimination against women laboratory staff at UQ
“Subsequent to a letter sent out to all 1,800 non-academic. staff in the 1st week of March 1973, a lunch time meeting on 6th March was hurriedly convened by the Technical and Laboratory Staff Association inviting all non academics to attend. The need for such a meeting was expedited by the fact that the proposals put forward by Mr. Richie, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Fabric of Finance) were to go before the Senate for approval on 8th March (International Women’s Day).
On the 6th March, Mr. Richie was confronted by over 200 angry non academics who fired many pertinent questions al him. This meeting should go down in the history of the University as it is the first of any significant size consisting of members of several unions and professional· organisations to assemble in protest of an intended administrative action that of the introduction of compulsory superannuation, for all non-academic staff members. Protesting particularly against the discriminatory nature for favouring males at the expense of female members.” – Semper Floreat, Volume 43 Number 4. Published Uni. or Qld. Union, 2.4.73.
Historic stop work protest at University of Queensland by non-academic staff
The union forced the Senate of the University to reject the new super scheme because it discriminated against the large number of women employed in the labs at Uni.
22 Oct 2022
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Solidarity with NTEU Strike!