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University staff to go on strike 4 March


1 March 2002

University staff to go on strike 4 March

Staff at the majority of New Zealand’s universities are planning strike action for Monday 4 March.

The Association of University Staff [AUS], which covers most union members at the universities, says that salary offers have once again been unacceptably low.

The union claim of 8 per cent for most groups of staff is intended to begin to bring university salaries back to a level comparable with international and national trends. It has been met by employer offers ranging from 1.5 to 4 per cent, however.

“University academic salary scales here have fallen in real terms over the past two decades, and are well behind those in Australia,” commented the Association’s National President, Dr Grant Duncan. “General staff salaries have fallen well behind inflation in the same period. Offers that barely keep abreast of inflation do not remedy that.”

“The present strike action is a symptom of a long and frustrating process for staff who have experienced rising workloads and consistently below-average salary increases over the last decade or more.”

“New Zealand will begin to face difficulty in recruiting and retaining a high-calibre academic workforce. Many are due to retire, and others will leave for overseas positions and into other professions due to the relatively low salaries in the sector. Specialist general staff positions are equally under threat.”

The industrial action at those campuses that have not yet ratified employment agreements would be supplemented by lunchtime protests at campuses that have already settled.

Dr Duncan commented that the present industrial action is also a symptom of failures by successive governments to invest in quality university education and research.

“Although New Zealand is performing comparatively well in terms of participation rates in tertiary education, the next goal must be to raise the comparable quality of education and research provided within our universities.

“The staff of the universities embody the key knowledge-bases and teaching qualities required for the achievement of internationally credible degree-granting and research-productive institutions.”

Dr Duncan estimated that public funding of universities would have to rise considerably if New Zealand wishes to keep pace with global developments.

Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President
phone: 021 680 475 or (09) 443 9773, ext. 9086.

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