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Massey spending millions on capital expenditure

Members of AUS, PSA and ASTE went on strike last Friday for the first time in Massey University's history. Talks with management had broken down some five weeks earlier when management refused to budge from demanding clawbacks in retirement benefits and a pay offer lower than the rate of inflation.

"The Vice-Chancellor claims the University is between a rock and a hard place due to long-term government underfunding to the tertiary sector. But if that is so, why is he spending $60 million on capital expenditure this year alone? Our pay rise request would cost less than one-twentieth of that amount. If he's between a rock and a hard place, then the rock is that crumbling old stone museum he's renovating in Wellington, and the hard place is staff feelings over such irresponsible spending in hard times," said joint unions’ industrial action committee speaker, Dr Karen Rhodes.

“The Vice-Chancellor and Registrar also tried to divert attention away from the current dispute by releasing academic promotion details on Friday, claiming deserving staff received 2-14% pay increases.

"A 14% pay increase in a promotion round is unheard of. It is possible, for instance, that someone being promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer could make only a 1% pay increase," said Dr Rhodes.

"It is ironic that management wants to tout academic promotions at this time. One reason behind the strike was the Vice-Chancellor's refusal to implement fairer and more open guidelines for academic promotion procedures.

"To vaunt academic promotions also ignores the great numbers of general staff. Only 1/6 of general staff received any merit increase last year and those were nowhere near 14%. In the real world, the only people getting close to 14% are the Vice-Chancellor and his upper management team,” said Dr Rhodes.

"The VC thinks our concerns are 'silly' - his word, not mine - and he does not intend to change his offer, despite the strike. But at least one good thing has come of it. Two of our members decided, while on the picket line, to get married after seven years of being together. They claimed they'd never forget their anniversary if they got married on strike day!" said Dr Rhodes.

For further information please contact Karen Rhodes: work (06) 356-9099, extn 7296
home (06) 356-1100

Dr Karen Rhodes
School of English and Media Studies
Massey University

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