University staff strike, call for pay increases
About 1000 protesters took to the streets last week calling for increased pay for University of Auckland staff.
Symonds Street traffic came to a standstill at 11am on Thursday as university staff and students erupted with chants for equal pay for all members.
The protest came after seven months of failed negotiations between the university and Tertiary Education Union (TEU), which represented about 1000 of the university’s 5000 staff.
TEU had demanded for all university staff to be given a pay increase of 1.2 per cent in 2017, followed by a pay rise of $1200 from February 1, 2018.
TEU also wanted a $3500 increase for those at the bottom of the pay scale.
These were rejected by the university, who favoured a 1.2 per cent pay increase for two consecutive years.
TEU professional staff copresident Josanne Blyth said she was encouraged to see the solidarity of staff members and students who took part in the protest.
‘‘It is important that we be strong together and support each other,’’ Blyth said.
‘‘We need to show that we are determined to get the best we can from our employer.’’
Blyth, who had worked at the University of Auckland for 14 years, said they would now wait and see what the university would do.
‘‘We still have a collective agreement to rectify and sort out at the end of the day - there has to be conversation.’’
Town planning student Gowan Ditchburn, who was a part of the protest, said university staff were the most important people on campus.
‘‘They are not paid fairly and it just doesn’t feel right at all,’’ Ditchburn said.
‘‘The staff are doing an important job and they are put under a lot of pressure. Better paid staff means better quality education and happier students.’’
Ditchburn said he was let go from his part time job at the university’s help desk because of funding cuts earlier this year.
‘‘You hear of the vice chancel- lor getting pay increases, and his office expanding but yet his staff aren’t being rewarded for what they truly deserve.’’
University of Auckland staff protested after months of failed negotiations with their employer.