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HomeNew ZealandAuckland University unionised staff to keep refusing to enter student grades

Auckland University unionised staff to keep refusing to enter student grades

The University of Auckland

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The University of Auckland is yet to reach an agreement with the Tertiary Education Union.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

An Auckland University union organiser says staff will continue to strike until the university gives them a reasonable collective agreement.

Since negotiations began in August, unionised workers have held a half-day strike, worked to rule and are now refusing to enter student grades.

The strike is a ban on entering and releasing student marks or course marks into any student management system, which started on 14 November and is now due to end at 5pm on 1 December, the union said in a statement on Friday.

Organiser Adam Craigie said the university’s proposal would remove length of service and retirement provisions from new contracts.

“The employers refuse to budge on their unacceptable position, of offering pay rise below the rate of inflation to all of our members, as well as removing key conditions for future staff.”

The proposed pay rise was also below the inflation rate, he said.

The university claimed it could not continue to meet these conditions due to financial instability, but it was forecasting a surplus of about 4 per cent, Craigie said.

The union’s members realised that the move would greatly inconvenience students but had been left with no choice, he said.

“The choice rests entirely with the Vice Chancellor. She should instruct her negotiating team to return to the table with an offer that delivers a fair pay rise without removal of conditions for future staff so that everyone can return our full focus to serving students,” Craigie said in a statement.

The University of Auckland has previously told RNZ it had offered staff a 9 per cent pay rise over two years and 11 per cent for staff paid $60,000 or less.

In a statement to RNZ on Sunday, the University of Auckland said it was disappointed the union was taking action while engaged in bargaining.

It said its offer was “significantly higher than any other university in Aotearoa New Zealand or Australia currently”.

“Without a significant increase in funding from central government, the university isn’t in a position to go higher than this. The university must remain prudent with its budget and aims to balance requests for pay increases with the cost of providing excellence in teaching and research, as befitting a world-class university.”

There would be no change to entitlements for retirement gratuity and long service leave for current staff and those hired prior to 1 February 2023, the university said.

“Our proposal to grandparent retirement gratuities for professional and academic staff, as well as long service leave for professional staff, signals a strategic change in the way the university wants to reward staff in the future.”

The focus would be rewarding staff when employed rather than at the end of their career, the university said.

However, it said it was “proposing to enhance parental leave terms and conditions, making them more equitable and removing barriers for staff to access these benefits”.

It believed the offer was “fair and realistic” and that it “recognises the extraordinary commitment and hard work of all our staff this year and over the entire pandemic period”.

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