The Longest Strike: A Look into Enterprise Bargaining at the University of Sydney

Get involved in balancing business and academic interests at the University as staff and students share their stories

Photography by Bipasha Chakraborty from Honi Soit
Story background

A breakthrough in enterprise bargaining between The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the University of Sydney for a new industrial agreement was seen with the cancellation of a planned strike from May 1-3. The two sides have reached a tentative consensus on a few key interests.

This university holds the record for the longest bargaining process among all Australian universities, which took place over almost two years. During this period University of Sydney staff went on strike for nine days and formed picket lines at the main entrances to the campus.

News publications including the Guardian and the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the industrial action and attempted to clarify the different attitudes of the two sides towards the industrial agreement. But the story of the teachers and students behind the difficult enterprise bargaining and multiple strikes is invisible.


Story angle

The thoughts and experiences of several staff and students involved in enterprise bargaining and industrial action will be important threads in this feature story.

Their stories will lead the reader to see the tension between a university’s pursuit of commercial operations and its commitment to academic research.

This feature story will also expand on the Australian government’s underinvestment in higher education and its expectation of significant funding from international students.


Photography by Bipasha Chakraborty from Honi Soit


Target audiences and publication

The potential audience is people who are interested in Australian society, culture and higher education.

The target publication is The Monthly, which is an Australian monthly magazine in the field of politics, society and culture. Its in-depth features are one of its key characteristics.


Source of information

Interviews are an important source for this feature story, which will include:

  1. Skye Shang, a student in the Master of Media Practice program at the University of Sydney. She experienced multiple teachers strikes during these two semesters in Sydney. While she supports the teachers’ right to strike, she also believes that the ongoing strikes have harmed her educational rights.
  2. Jia Guo, PhD Candidate and academic tutor in the Discipline of Gender and Cultural Studies (USYD), actively participated in union strike action as a member of the National Tertiary Education Union. She believes that the requirement in the new contract for scholars to spend more time on teaching, while also requiring them to conduct academic research with little time and compensation, is unreasonable.
  3. Professor Mark Scott AO is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Sydney. He is the main advocate for the new contract of USYD staff. Perhaps a spokesperson will respond to questions on his behalf. /

The annual report of the University of Sydney will provide management, teaching, financial, and other information for this feature.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s website and social media continue to provide updates on its claims and negotiations.

Multimedia, Hypertext & Interactivity

  • Use photos and gifs of the strike action and the university.
  • Organize the audio into a separate podcast episode and embed it on the page.
  • Display embedded social media posts.
  • Incorporate hyperlinks to important sources and background stories.
  • Include the author’s email address.
  • Provide buttons for sharing the story on social media.


1 Comment

  1. Hi,Xuqin. You have presented an excellent proposal that I find very attractive. However, there is always a concern regarding strikes, so we must consider the story behind the strike and its reasons. It would be helpful if you provided more details about the strike that was more appealing to the target audience and considered how the strike might impact the students and teachers at the school to come up with a better solution. To make it more precise, the links to your proposal could be included in the keywords. In the end, the audio podcast that you will be releasing later is exciting for me.

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