AUT staff withhold marks in strike for better pay and living wage

TEU lead advocate Irena Brorens ... "Every person at the university makes a huge contribution to the quality teaching and learning AUT is known for.” Image: PMC

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Union members at Auckland University of Technology are withholding marks for two weeks after voting overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action in support of their salary claims.

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has asked for a 3 percent increase for all staff covered by collective agreements and for the lowest paid staff members to be paid the Living Wage.

This modest increase would go some way to ensuring salaries at the university “reflect the time, energy and skill that staff put into their jobs”, said the union in a statement.

“What we’re talking about here are the people who make studying at AUT possible. Every person at the university makes a huge contribution to the quality teaching and learning AUT is known for,” said Irena Brorens, the national industrial officer of the TEU and lead advocate for negotiations at AUT.

Staff have also been negotiating collectively for the Living Wage at AUT.

The university has so far refused to accept that the lowest paid staff working at AUT should be paid the Living Wage of $20.55 per hour.

The union believes that regardless of whether an employee works full time, or as a student working in a café, or as a student mentor at AUT, they should receive this rate which enables them to pay for the basic necessities of life.

“AUT needs to follow the lead of Auckland City Council which has agreed to pay the Living Wage to all employees,” Brorens said.

“Basically, it is the right thing for a university to do.”

Recently more than 1000 staff and students signed a petition calling on Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack to pay staff the Living Wage.

For two weeks, union members will not be releasing student marks to AUT. The TEU has notified the student union of its plans and has told them that AUT can ensure the release of marks by agreeing to what the union is asking for.

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