3 Oct 2022

Universities' union members vote to strike over stalled pay talks

7:14 pm on 3 October 2022
Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey.

Tertiary Education Union national secretary Sandra Grey says the form of the industrial action is being decided. Photo: Supplied

Strikes could disrupt lectures at all eight universities during the next two weeks.

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU), Public Service Association, and E Tū announced today their members at each university had voted to strike over their stalled pay talks.

TEU national secretary Sandra Grey said it was now deciding what form its action would take.

"Our members are meeting at the moment to decide at each of the universities what action they'll be taking, but this is a strike ballot so it does mean at some point they won't be doing the work that they would normally do whether that's in a classroom, in a library, in a lab, in an administrative area," she said.

Grey said the unions and universities were "miles apart" in 18 separate collective agreement negotiations.

"We know the cost of living is going up by around 8 percent and that's what our members want. The universities so far are a long, long way from that and aren't recognising that their workers like every worker need to pay the bills so we need them to come back to the table with a real pay rise."

Public Service Association assistant secretary Alex Davies said it was disappointing that members had been forced into taking strike action.

"The overwhelming vote to strike just underlines the strength of feeling among our members who feel a cost of living adjustment is simply fair and reasonable at a time of unprecedented pressure on household budgets. We hope our action sends a strong message to university employers that they need to invest in their staff before it's too late," she said.

Each university was negotiating its own collective agreements with the unions, but the agreements had expired at about the same time enabling coordinated industrial action.

The TEU said it had about 7000 members in universities.

On its website. University of Auckland stated it had explained to the unions that it had made an offer that was fair and resonable and rewarded staff, while retaining fiscal responsibility.

"The university has made a best offer of a 5 percent and 4 percent general revision offer over two years, subject to certain conditions," the statement said.