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Staff want strike deductions paid to students

1 August 2005

University staff want strike deductions paid to students

Members of the Association of University Staff (AUS) are asking vice-chancellors from six of the seven major universities to invest salary savings from strike action taken on 20 July and 4 August into merit and needs-based scholarships for students.

“The universities saved the value of the salaries of thousands of striking staff and collected student fees for those two days” said AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth.

“University staff work with the students everyday. They want nothing more than to ensure students have access to the best possible education provided by the best possible staff. Students upset with staff are shooting the messenger. We encourage students to stand with the staff and demand that the employer take responsibility for the disruptions caused to students,” said Professor Haworth

Members of AUS argue that it is the employer who benefits from the financial savings following strikes, but the students were the ones who missed classes. “Although we take this action to protect the education of students in the future, I’d like to see something tangible be returned to our students today” said Associate Professor Jack Heinemann, an AUS member on strike at the University of Canterbury.

Strike action at the universities of Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury, Lincoln, Victoria and Massey Universities interrupted classes and closed libraries and other crucial support facilities to students over the past two weeks.

The thousands of university staff not paid on those two days want their accumulated wage savings to go to the students.

“It is time that the vice-chancellors acknowledged the human cost of their competition with one another, and paid some of it back to students. Their competition is driving up costs unnecessarily, putting pressure on student fees and is eroding working conditions, driving down staff numbers and wages” said Associate Professor Heinemann.

University staff will again be on strike on Thursday this week.

ENDS

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