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Staff at Auckland University to Strike for Fair Pay

Media release
Tertiary Education Union - Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa
10 March 2017

STAFF AT AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY TO STRIKE FOR FAIR PAY

All staff at the University of Auckland should be given a fair and equitable increase in their pay, the TEU said today after announcing university staff would take strike action on 16 March [1] as part of a campaign to achieve an equitable outcome from pay negotiations [2].

Negotiations with university management have been ongoing for more than seven months, during which time the TEU has sought to secure the fairest possible outcome for all university staff, including a cost-neutral flat rate pay increase, fair pay for professional staff and the Living Wage for university employees.

In an effort to avoid strike action, the TEU recently proposed a 1.2 percent pay increase in 2017 followed by a flat rate pay rise of $1,200 from 1 February 2018, as well as an increase of $3,500 for those at the bottom of the professional pay scale. A flat rate pay rise would also make an important contribution to addressing the gender pay imbalance, as there are significantly more women in professional staff roles at the university.

The proposal was rejected by the employer in favour of a 1.2 percent increase in pay for two consecutive years, with a commitment to discuss the merits of a flat rate rise after the first year. However, if discussions about a flat rate rise were unsuccessful, TEU members would have no recourse as it is illegal to take strike action during the term of an agreement.

John Egan, Academic co-president of the TEU at Auckland University, said: “We don’t take the decision to go on strike lightly—our preference is to conduct our research and to teach. However, academic and professional staff all make vital contributions towards maintaining the University of Auckland as one of the best places in New Zealand to study. It’s not too late for senior management to avoid strike action. All they have to do is return to the table and offer staff a fair and equitable flat rate pay increase for 2018. Our academic members are willing to take a lower increase to offset the inadequate wages of our professional staff colleagues—we want less, not more.”

Josanne Blyth, Professional staff co-president of the TEU at Auckland University, said: “For the last seven months we have been trying to persuade senior management to give staff the same pay increase no matter how much they earn. Their offer to discuss a flat rate rise in a year’s time is not good enough and would tie our members’ hands. A percentage increase is the wrong approach to take as it simply means the highest paid receive the largest rises. Staff are really proud to work here and would be prouder still if management recognised the equal value of the work people do by giving all staff the same increase in pay.”

Speaking in favour of strike action, Mark Amsler, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Auckland University, said: “It is a disappointing for staff to be put in a position where securing a fair pay agreement for our lower earning colleagues means having to go on strike. But we are a collective, and that's what you do. Providing all staff with a fair and equitable boost in their pay should be a priority for senior management. I hope they return to the negotiating table and agree to the TEU’s proposal so we all can focus on giving our students the best possible start to the academic year.”

Also speaking in favour of strike action Nicole Wallace, Group Services Co-ordinator at the University of Auckland, said: “We work extremely hard to make sure the university provides a positive learning environment for students. With the cost of living in Auckland rising, the need for a flat rate increase in pay is more important than ever.”

--ENDS--

Notes

1. TEU members will be on strike for a half day on 16 March
2. TEU members voted to strike in a ballot that was open from Tuesday 31 January to Friday 3 February. Members had previously voted overwhelmingly in favour of holding the vote.

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