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More than 1000 Auckland University staff members went on strike for half a day on March 16 after pay disputes with the university.
The decision came after several months of negotiations between the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) and the university regarding a pay increase proposal by the union. The proposal included a 1.2% pay increase in 2017, followed by a flat-rate pay rise of $1,200 in 2018, and an increase of $3,500 for those at the bottom of the professional pay scale.
It was rejected by the university in favour of a 1.2% increase for two consecutive years, with a commitment to discuss the merits of a flat-rate rise after the first year.
Had the TEU accepted this proposal, members would have had no recourse if the promised discussions were unsuccessful, as it is illegal to take strike action during the term of an agreement.
John Egan, the Academic Co-President of the TEU at Auckland University, said “[w]e don’t take the decision to go on strike lightly.”
The decision has been met with support from university students and staff throughout New Zealand.
Wayne Linklater, the Co-President of Victoria University’s TEU branch, stated: “When an employer is intransigent, we need to stand together […]. Shame on the leadership of Auckland University for not working with the will of its staff to help the lowest paid.”
The Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) President Will Matthews also pledged support, saying “AUSA has supported our local TEU branch throughout this process, and we are happy to be standing with them for this strike.”