Thousands of ‘happy’ workers make themselves heard

Posted By TEU on Oct 21, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 40

There was a droll moment in Parliament’s Question Time yesterday afternoon, according to Scoop,  as Prime Minister John Key proclaimed “New Zealand workers are happy”.

Meanwhile about 4000 workers stood just metres from the House protesting the Government’s planned expansion of its 90-day fire-at-will law and the removal of other employment rights.

Tertiary Education Union members joined tens of thousands of other workers from Kaitaia to Bluff yesterday in one of New Zealand’s largest collective protest actions.

The Council of Trade Unions says that 22,000 workers walked off the job yesterday to protest against attacks on their rights at work. That number is unlikely to include many workers, including TEU members, who attended rallies in their lunch break and thus were not included as officially stopping work.

Helen Kelly, CTU President, said “New Zealanders believe in everyone having a fair go. Removing the right to appeal against unfair dismissal is clearly more unpopular than the Government was banking on.”

“We are confident the support for fairness at work will grow,” said Helen Kelly. “We are determined to keep campaigning on these issues, including during the general election next year.”

Rallies were held in nearly 30 different locations throughout New Zealand. TV3 described the biggest event at Auckland’s Telstra Clear Stadium as packed to capacity with 7000 union members.

“Those gathered were elbow-to-elbow; late comers filled the lobby and spewed out into the car park.”

Nationwide, numbers swelled throughout the afternoon as events were held in other centres.

TEU’s has photos of the events as well as interviews with national president Dr Tom Ryan, president-elect Sandra Grey and Massey branch member Bryce Galloway and Marg Gilling.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. National pushes through voluntary student membership
  2. WITT staff and students fund financial recovery
  3. No place at Otago Uni for favoured teacher
  4. Govt and mayors plan to track all school leavers

Other news

About 700 students will miss out on summer holiday research jobs this year because the Government has decided not to repeat a $4 million grant it gave the universities last summer New Zealand Herald

NZQA plans to lift the bar for university entrance as it responds to government funding caps.  At present, pupils must get 42 credits at level 3 in three subjects to achieve university entrance. The new proposal – to be in place by 2014 – would require 60 credits at level 3 or above and 20 credits at level 2 or above – The Dominion Post

Angry students say they will be left with a “lifetime of debt” following the University of Auckland’s decision to raise its fees by 6.3 per cent next year. The increase, which was approved at a meeting this week, means some domestic students will have to pay up to $1600 extra in fees, in addition to $660 in student services fees and building levies New Zealand Herald

The minister for tertiary education, Steven Joyce, is calling for submissions from the public on the proposed merger of Tairāwhiti Polytechnic and Eastern Institute of Technology. “People who have a view on the proposed merger should take the opportunity to make a submission by 12 November 2010.  I propose to make a final decision in late November 2010 to give effect to any merger from 1 January 2011,” says Mr Joyce.

Universities in England are preparing for cuts of more than £4bn in the government’s Spending Review – with deep reductions in teaching budgets. Lord Browne’s review last week recommended a sharp increase in tuition fees – but universities have been angered that the extra funding from fees look set to be used to fill the gap from cuts in public spending  – BBC

Australia’s Gillard government remains committed to its multi-billion-dollar Bradley reforms in tertiary education despite the need to return to budget surplus in about two years, according to tertiary education minister Chris Evans. Senator Evans said that higher education was integral to achieving the government’s vision of “a stronger and fairer Australia” The Australian

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email:

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