Strike ends with fees warning

June 9, 1995

The first strike by New Zealand university academics has ended in stalemate and a warning from the university hit by the industrial action that any pay rises next year will have to be met from increased student fees.

The warning followed a one-day strike at Victoria University of Wellington where members of the Association of University Staff were seeking a 2.6 per cent pay rise. Peter Donelan, the branch president, said there had been good support from staff throughout the day, and that support from staff unions internationally had been a boost for morale.

He said the claim was still on the table while industrial action continued in the form of boycotts on various administrative processes.

A further strike was possible in August, and in the meantime the union was preparing for next year's claim, which would incorporate this year's claim if there was no settlement.

Janis McArdle, a university spokeswoman, said an earlier offer of one-off lump-sum payments of between NZ$300 (Pounds 125) and NZ$400 still stood and was all the university could afford this year.

The university has told the union that any increases for next year would have to be considered in conjunction with decisions on the level of student fees. The university had indicated that any increases would be "very clearly" reflected in a rise in fees.

While the union claimed about 400 of the 530 academic staff took part in the strike, only 60 names have been forwarded to the admininstration by departmental heads. The union's action takes place against the background of a continuing squeeze on university budgets.

While this year's budget allocated an extra NZ$66 million over the next three years to increase the number of places by 17,000 by 1999, this was partly offset by a 5 per cent cut in funding over five years announced in January.

The AUS criticised the budget for continuing a downward spiral for staff and students. "The figures show that tuition subsidies are to increase by 0.85 per cent from 1994/95 to 1995/96 - lower than the projected rate of inflation," Rob Crozier, AUS executive director, said.

"The reality for university staff is that there is no provision for meeting additional salary costs and this will inevitably mean that students will bear the brunt of salary increases in 1995/96."

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