Monday, 05 Dec 2022

Zoom picketing: students protest Sydney University staff cuts by disrupting online tutorials

Zoom picketing: students protest Sydney University staff cuts by disrupting online tutorials


Zoom picketing: students protest Sydney University staff cuts by disrupting online tutorials

Sydney University has threatened students striking for better staff working conditions with suspension for shutting down online tutorials via the new digital protest tactic of "Zoom picketing".

As students blocked seven entrances to the campus across Thursday and Friday, dozens more logged in to online tutorials with distributed links. The university had recommended teachers move their sessions to virtual meeting platform Zoom to avoid being impacted by the strikes.

It was the National Tertiary Education Union's third industrial action since May.

A Sydney University student who uses the online alias "Sean" was among three students threatened with disciplinary action in August when they attempted the tactic.

It was the first time protestors had used Zoom picketing, in addition to physical picket lines, by inundating digital tutorials with strikers who would attempt to force the shutdown of sessions. Once a tutorial link was acquired, protestors logged into the session en masse, disrupting the class by talking over the lecturer until teaching became unfeasible.

This week, dozens of classes were disrupted or cancelled across the campus and online. Many more were cancelled ahead of the strikes.

"Management's tactic was to move classes on Zoom, so they could jump over it," Sean said. "This is the evolution of strike tactics: we've taken the principles of picketing and applied them to Zoom.

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