Lincoln Staff Take Bargaining Campaign to the PM
Association of University Staff - Media
Thursday, 25 March 2004
Lincoln Staff Take National Bargaining Campaign to the PM
Members of the AUS (Association of University Staff) and PSA at Lincoln University staged a protest rally today while the Prime Minister was on campus to officially open Lincoln's new Centre of Research Excellence in Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies. The protest was part of an on-going national campaign to obtain better pay and conditions for university staff. The campaign will culminate in a vote on strike action at union meetings to be held at each university next week.
AUS Lincoln Branch President Walt Abell said "staff wanted to ensure that the Prime Minster and the Government understood the impact of chronic funding shortages on staff salaries and conditions. Staff are saying quite clearly that they will no longer accept non-competitive salaries and increasing workloads."
The rally was held outside the Lincoln Registry building at lunchtime. A silent picket was staged while the Prime Minister was escorted across campus to the official ceremonies. Members then gathered to hear various speakers, including AUS National President Dr. Bill Rosenberg who reported to them on mediation between the university employers and the unions earlier this week, which was initiated by AUS to attempt to resolve the dispute.
"Government funding per university student had fallen dramatically over the last fifteen years. The effect of the funding shortfall has been to force rises in student fees, deteriorating facilities, and demonstrably inadequate salaries and working conditions which affect the quality of education and research that institutions can offer," Dr. Rosenberg said.
Both Drs Rosenberg and Abell were careful to point out that the rally was aimed at the lack of progress towards nation-wide employment agreements to cover academic and non-academic staff. "In no way was the protest about Lincoln's Centre of Research Excellence. Lincoln staff are justifiably proud of the university's achievement in this area," Dr. Abell said.
University unions have been in negotiations for new collective agreements since last October. They are seeking an across the board pay rise of 10% this year and commitment to further rises, fair workloads and more participation in decision making. Strike action to be voted on at next week's meetings would include five days of action over five weeks to be followed by a five consecutive days of strike action.