Researchers as workers

The Australian newspaper reported yesterday a proposed class action on behalf of people who receive a scholarship under the Commonwealth’s Research Training Programme

The claim appears to be that they are employees who research and should accordingly be paid according to their university’s enterprise agreement.

Queensland Workcover had a similar idea, albeit for rather different reasons, back in 2019 when it wanted to collect worker compensation premiums from universities, to cover PhD students with stipends. The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association responded, “PhD candidature does not involve the provision of labour for reward. It involves the provision of scholarly activity for the attainment of an educational qualification. The relationship is that of a student and educational institution, not that of employee and employer,” (CMM July 8 2019 and January 20 2020).