The Guardian 30 November, 2005

University unions under attack

NSW Hunter Valley universities are booting union offices off their premises in a bid to extract extra funds from Education Minister Brendan Nelson. Workers have labelled the evictions by university management as attempts to suck up to the Education Czar.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) office at Newcastle University’s Callaghan campus received an eviction notice last week. The NTEU has sheeted home blame for the move directly to the university’s Vice Chancellor, saying he has made no secret of his displeasure at the union speaking out on issues which affect the quality of education.

The NTEU has also singled out the Howard Government, saying university management is not allowed to spend Commonwealth funds on provision of union facilities on campuses.

"The decision of the Vice Chancellor to lock the union out of its office on Callaghan campus is part of a concerted effort to silence discussion and debate", said Chris Game, NSW NTEU Divisional Secretary. "This decision is aimed at flattering the Commonwealth Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Dr Brendan Nelson.

"Other universities have entered into commercial arrangements with the union, but Dr Saunders will have none of that. He wants to go the extra mile and show how compliant he is by adopting the anti-union mantra of the Government."

The NTEU has offered to pay commercial rent for the space but that was rejected by the University.

The move follows two other university vice chancellors, at Southern Cross University and the University of New England, who have issued similar eviction notices which become effective at the end of this week.

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