Univer­sity staff strike, call for pay in­creases

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHANDRA

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.’’

‘‘We need to show that we are de­ter­mined to get the best we can from our em­ployer’’

TORIKA TOKALAU/FAIRFAX NZ

Univer­sity of Auck­land staff protested af­ter months of failed ne­go­ti­a­tions with their em­ployer.

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