New Zealand: Construction workers banned from University of Canterbury's campus cafes
Construction workers have lunch at their work site. At University of Canterbury, such workers are banned from the campus cafes and expected to bring their own food or head to a container cafe set up for exclusively for them. Source: Shutterstock

The University of Canterbury wants its students, staff and visitors get their food as fast as possible between classes and to ensure that happens, they have banned construction workers on-campus from eating at the school’s cafes.

According to Stuff, however, the ban to shorten queues at the campus’ 14 eateries is proving bad for business as cafe owners rely heavily on revenue from sale of food to these labourers.

But the university says the ban is part of the construction workers’ contracts to give priority to students during the school’s major development programme.

“At times, we have had well over 1,000 construction contractors on campus, and as many as 12 building sites,” a university spokesman said.

Under the ban deemed “heavy-handed” by the food proprietors, campus security can ask the workers to leave busy cafes during term time and warn owners against serving them. The university has not confirmed this has happened, but says it is “possible”.

Cafe owners, however, are upset by such treatment of their labourer customers, who they consider as family and “lovely guys, no trouble”. Adding to their displeasure is the lack of formal notice or requests for more information on the ban by university management.

“We have got racism and sexism – is this hi-vis-ism? It just doesn’t make any sense,” one cafe owner said.

Labourers are apparently now expected to bring their own food or head to the Hard Hat Cafe, a container cafe set up for exclusively for them.

And though the cafes are now out of bounds due to the new rule, Stuff reported tradesmen either unfazed or even unaware of it. Some preferred the Hard Hat Cafe regardless.

A spokeswoman for Fletcher Construction, which is rebuilding the university’s science block, said “our guys don’t feel limited” by the ban.

The University of Canterbury is in the midst of a 30-year plan unveiled last January to redevelop its campus after a major earthquake in 2011 caused much damage to its buildings.

The NZD2 billion (US$1.4 billion) project with proposals for 50 buildings and landscaping aims to “energise” the campus and increase student enrolment, which suffered post-earthquake.

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