Senior lecturer and picket line leader Nick Riemer told Guardian Australia the riot police had “behaved like violent animals” during the first incident.
“We had a picket line of staff and students who were observing the NTEU [National Tertiary Education Union] protocol which says that we are allowed – and it’s what we are here to do – to have conversations with people about why we are here,” said Riemer.
He alleged the police gave no verbal warning before “swooping” on protesters after they sat down on the driveway of the Carillon Avenue entrance to the university in front of a truck attempting to enter the grounds.
Riemer claimed protesters were “violently manhandled, they yanked them out of the way, they pushed them – I got pushed, I got asphyxiated for a small number of seconds. I got violently manhandled.”
A NSW police spokesman told Guardian Australia Newtown police were aware of the action and the incident began when it was alleged protesters were blocking Carillon and Western avenues.
“This was seen as a safety risk to people accessing an adjacent primary school and pedestrian crossing. Police attempted to move the group and it appears some resisted, leading to arrests,” she said.
The people arrested have been taken to Newtown police station and are expected to be charged with resisting arrest, according to ABC News.
The strike action began in March after negotiations between staff and the university broke down, senior lecturer and chair of the department of political economy and vice president of the NTU, Damien Cahill said.
“We’re striking in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement which strengthens our conditions, gives us a fair pay rise. Unfortunately the management saw fit to put a proposal on the table which would have stripped back most of our protections,” Cahill said.
“We’re hoping this will be the last strike and they’ll agree to a fair pay rise. If not we’re going to be back here in second semester.”
Cahill did not witness Wednesday morning’s incident, but said police had taken a “very heavy-handed view to the strikes from the second strike onwards, and they’ve increased their milit