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University of Auckland Student Rally: Solidarity with Unions

22nd March 2012

University of Auckland Students to Stage Rally in Solidarity with Workers’ Unions

On Thursday 22nd March at 1pm, students from the We are the University movement will stage a rally in the University of Auckland quad. This event is to show solidarity with, and to demand fair conditions and pay for all general and academic staff as well as a freeze on fees and abolishment of student debt.

“We see issues around how members of the university community are treated by their employers – for example, increasing casualisation of labour and the failure of management to furnish workers with a living wage – as extremely relevant to how students’ burden of debt and repayment cripples real choice, real flexibility in life,” says We Are The University spokesperson Sam Harrison.

“This is a human rights issue. In a free and progressive society, access to reliable working hours, a living wage and free education as basic public goods are definitive of this freedom.”

The event will include a range of speakers from many sectors, including Sue Bradford, former MP and founder of Auckland Action against Poverty, as well as a number of delegates from a diverse range of trade unions. There will be lively MC’ing courtesy of students of the University, and sausages courtesy of the Tertiary Education Union.

“It is simply not good enough that our workers must habitually work two or three jobs in uncertain and often unsafe conditions under threat of replacement by contractors. How shrill and sanctimonious are our claims to fair society and how proud are we of our “40 hour week.” However, we are ignoring the fact that large proportions of our population do not live in these conditions, regardless of qualification or merit. ” says Harrison.

“Funding to the students’ association has been cut nearly in half this year, fees rose another 4% last year and there are now charges for attending the uni doctor, which is already paid for out of our substantial Student Services Levy. This double-dipping on student financials is unacceptable and is yet another symptom of flagrant and irresponsible government policy,” says postgraduate student Angela Proctor.

“We are constantly being told that paying thousands in fees and interest to get degrees will give us a leg-up, that it is a personal investment in our own individual futures. But we refuse to see the world through such a self-interested and cynical lens. Free education empowers its bearers and those around them; it is a human right and a social good, immeasurable in the terms of the market. We want to do justice to the future of our country by confronting and discussing these issues, rather than obscuring them or making them worse, as this Government seems hell-bent on doing.”



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