Fair pay strike goes ahead at Auckland University

Posted By TEU on Mar 15, 2017 |

Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 9

Staff at the University of Auckland are stopping work on Thursday to stand together in calling on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, to offer union members a fair and equitable increase in pay.

The half day strike follows more than seven months of negotiations during which the TEU has sought a cost-neutral flat rate pay increase, fair pay for professional staff and the Living Wage for the lowest paid.

Negotiations been frustrated repeatedly by McCutcheon who is refusing to agree to the TEU’s proposals on the grounds that it would not maintain the purchasing power of staff in the same way as his preferred percentage increase in pay.

Earlier in the week, Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) added further pressure on McCutcheon by backing the strike action. In a statement calling on the Vice-Chancellor to return to negotiations, AUSA President, Will Matthews, said

“The student-staff relationship is one of the most important at any university. These are the people who teach our classes, mark our essays, ensure that our library books are organised, and work in dangerous conditions in our workshops and laboratories. Many staff members are working longer hours than required to ensure that the job is done. The very least we can do is ensure that they are paid fairly.”

“Every effort has been made to conclude negotiations without resorting to strike action, but the Vice-Chancellor’s refusal to move has left union members with little option,”  said John Egan, Academic co-president of the TEU at Auckland University.

“Academic and professional staff at the university work tirelessly to support students and give them the best possible learning experience. This includes the lowest paid, who the Vice-Chancellor is refusing to support by lifting their pay by an amount equal to everybody else.” Egan added.

The TEU recently proposed a 1.2 percent pay increase in 2017 followed by a flat rate pay rise of $1,200 from 1 February 2018, as well as an increase of $3,500 for those at the bottom of the professional pay scale.

The proposal was rejected by the employer in favour of a 1.2 percent increase in pay for two consecutive years, with a commitment to discuss the merits of a flat rate rise after the first year.

However, if discussions about a flat rate rise were unsuccessful, TEU members would have no recourse taking any action as it is illegal to strike during the term of an agreement.

Professional staff co-president of the TEU at Auckland University, Josanne Blyth, said the offer would tie TEU members’ hands and that a percentage increase was the “wrong approach”, as it simply means the highest paid receive the largest rises.

On Monday afternoon a group of TEU members attended University Council to draw attention to the strike action.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Andrew Little joins hundreds calling for Victoria to pay the Living Wage
  2. Minister short-sighted over benefits of international education
  3. Achieving tertiary education targets welcome, but not the full story
  4. Data collection could put students at risk

Other news

Parliament is partway through the first reading of Gareth Hughes’ (Greens) Student Loan Bill, which would allow people to save for a house rather than repay their student loan – Parliament

Local residents in Wellington are concerned about the Council’s plans for the sale of Victoria University’s Karori campus – Stuff

The University of Canterbury has seen a 20 percent growth in international student numbers – Voxy

The University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington will host three new Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence – Beehive

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has opened a consultation on proposed changes to University Entrance –NZQA

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations supported students from three Wellington high schools in their protest against rape culture – Voxy

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