A new year, a new strike, same problem
At the end of last year, negotiations fizzled out. The University held out, and eventually the year was done. There was little the Tertiary Education Union could really do to enforce its demands at UoA, so action was brought to a close. And now, they have returned. Both sides are rejuvenated and fuelled with malice, ready for another round in the ring. And as University students, you get stuck in the middle of it, which is to say that you possess a moral duty to act on it, and Craccum is committed to getting the most amusing information across.
At the current moment, the University is offering about 10%, depending on pay, over the next two years. Important to note that inflation over the next few years should be about 14%, and therefore the lecturers would be agreeing to a pay cut. Staff speaking at the march reject the pay offer as a ‘false narrative’, and especially support staff, feel they are being dictated to by an institution with far more power than they have. The 1200 staff who are yet to agree to the offer also want a retirement gratuity, an extra payment for when they leave, to respect the many years of service given. In addition, all other pay agreements across the country have stopped decreasing staff benefits, while UoA currently claims to be too poor to do so.
So, on the 1st of March, staff carried out a twenty-four-hour strike. Measures were taken to minimise the disruption: Andrew Phipps, the director of Human Resources, was invited to cover the classes of Doctor Ulrich Speidel of the COMPSCI department. It seems he failed to turn up, much to Speidel’s delight, and has since been invited to dock his own pay in solidarity and join the TEU.
Some staff were unable to properly put their dismay into words, and so one email is signed, “sincerely, ChatGPT.” The AI is apparently concerned with tying pay increases to employee performance, especially when that performance is contingent on who takes the class, and how much effort they put into it. That sort of pay risks incentivising lecturers to take popular classes or make them easier, which is hardly the purpose of the University.
On top of academic staff striking, support staff have been embroiled in a separate claim for pay rise, which should hopefully be easier now that school librarians and technicians have received a 40% pay increase. And they took the dastardly and quite frankly, unbelievable move of striking by refusing to work more than their ordinary hours. You heard it here, your support staff were not getting paid to work the hours they did, so they stopped. It is insulting to consider that a strike.
Both sides are set in their action, with speeches given on Princes Street during the strike which suggested that staff believe striking is the only method that will work to enforce their demands. Expect more action accordingly, and although the union finds the impact on students “regrettable,” it believes the action is in the best interests of all students. Beyond that, it is also in the best interests of the 13,000 staff that make up the University of Auckland which also enables them to live their lives with dignity.
The goodwill that has been extended over the years of COVID is all used up. Back in the ring, the unions are only just getting started again.