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University staff expressed bitter disappointment today that the Labour Government has joined its National predecessor in refusing to ratify Section IX of the UNESCO Declaration on the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel.

Section IX relates to terms and conditions of employment.

Speaking in Christchurch today, AUS National President Neville Blampied said, "It is both remarkable and regrettable that a New Zealand Labour government should refuse to affirm the ideals embodied in Section IX of the UNESCO Recommendation. When the UNESCO Recommendation was ratified by the National Government in 1997, it refused to ratify Section IX.

“New Zealand was one of only 4 countries to take this step, but it was a step entirely consistent with the anti-worker stance of the previous government. We expected better of a Labour government," said Mr Blampied.

Neville Blampied noted that the reasons given by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Steve Maharey, justifying the government's decisions seem to be ultra cautious, especially given the Minister's own statement that "the UNESCO recommendation does not … replace domestic law."

"Given that the Declaration is, as the Minister states, 'merely a statement of desired provisions for higher education personnel', AUS completely fails to understand why the government is unable positively to support ideals such as tenure for academic staff and rigorous standards for dismissal of staff," Neville Blampied said.

"A year on from the election, the government has few tangible achievements to point to in the tertiary education sector to back up its rhetoric about the importance of higher education to nation building in New Zealand.

“Ratifying the UNESCO Declaration in its entirety is one step the government could have taken, at no cost, to affirm its positive views about the sector. We therefore call on the Minister to reconsider his decision,” said Mr Blampied.

Neville M Blampied
National President

Contact for Neville Blampied: 021 680 475

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