Hi, I’m Matte. I’m an artist and union activist with a history of fighting for workers’ rights. I’m not shy about speaking up for my workmates, and with the fantastic strikes at Sydney University set to continue into Semester 2, I see no reason to stop!
I was a postal worker and CEPU member when John Howard’s ‘Work Choices’ legislation came in. I joined the huge protests against the Liberals and together with workers across the country we helped to kick Howard out. Since then I’ve spent seven years as a support worker in public primary schools where I was a PSA member and a Central Council member.
I arrived at Sydney Uni in February as a casual administration assistant in the Student Centre. I’m a proud NTEU member and despite my casual status, I plan to stick around and fight for rights to permanency for myself and my colleagues across the University. Since I got here I’ve joined the Casuals Network, attended meetings and forums, participated in daily leafleting sessions to promote the strikes and recruit new union members, and I’ve helped organise the pickets on strike days.
I believe we should be forging ahead with our strike campaign into Semester Two. Nurses, teachers, transport workers, ambos and university workers have all been on strike this year. Off the back of those strikes so far, we’ve already seen pay rises and promises of more staff and resources. But we can go further. We need an end to the neoliberal university where skyrocketing fees, increased casualisation of staff, and corporate partnerships are the order of the day. Instead, let’s fight for universities that are; fully funded and free to attend, that put student learning conditions and the pursuit of knowledge ahead of the pursuit of profit, and that treat their workers fairly. Indeed, let’s fight for a University where workers run the show, where we grant permanency to casual staff, enshrine research rights for academics, and make workloads manageable.
I’m thrilled to be running as a member of Rank And File Action (RAFA), a group of union members who have a progressive vision and strategy for the campaigns ahead. We’ve been fighting for gender affirmation leave, for rights for casual staff, and for enforceable employment targets for First Nations people. We’re seeking to extend our industrial campaign in Semester Two. We believe our union could be even stronger with more concerted organising, recruitment, and engagement. We’re made up of academic and professional staff, ongoing and casual, and we want to see the university reflect the voices of its workers.
We’ve come out of three days of strike action with a boost in membership and lots of good press coverage. We have a real chance to make change happen at the University – but that needs our vibrant grassroots campaign to continue and grow across Semester Two. We’ll need to bring new members on board, build towards even stronger strike action, and conclude negotiations not only with a fairer contract but a stronger union. Help us do this by voting RAFA!
Vote  David Brophy for Academic VP
Vote  Dylan Griffiths for General VP
Vote  Finola Laughren for Casual BC
Vote  to  for Ordinary Committee Member:  Markela Panegyres,  Dylan Griffiths,  Dani Cotton,  Cian Galea,  Ben Miller,  Luke Alexander,  Matte Rochford, and  Ben Graham
For a full how-to-vote and to find out how you can get more involved, go to https://rafausyd.wordpress.com