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AUS Condemns University Ban on S'market Petition

14 September 2006

AUS Condemns University Ban on Supermarket Petition

The Canterbury Branch of the Association of University Staff has condemned an order from university management to remove an online petition supporting locked-out supermarket workers.

The petition was gathering names of university employees to add to a statement declaring that they would boycott all Countdown, Woolworths, Fresh Choice, Supervalue and Foodtown supermarkets in protest against the management lock-out of workers.

The AUS at Canterbury, who last week made a $1000 donation to the affected families, said that the petition gave people at the university a practical way to contribute to the well-being of the wider community.

"The affected workers are among the lowest paid and most vulnerable members of our community and I know there is overwhelming sympathy and support for them among my colleagues at the university", said Canterbury Branch President David Small.

Dr Small also pointed out that all New Zealand universities have a statutory obligation to act as 'critic and conscience of society' which was consistent with this sort of community-spirited action. He challenged university management to cite a single example in the last year of a management initiative that was designed to fulfill that responsibility.

Dr Small said that freedom of expression, the open exchange of ideas and an engagement with the community were fundamental to the health of a university and that these were being threatened by management acting like the 'thought police'.

A version of the petition that is not web-based attracted 136 signatures from staff in its first hour.

ENDS

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