University salaries fall further behind
Data released recently by the Government Statistician on the average weekly income of New Zealanders show a substantial increase in income from Wages and Salaries in the year to June 2001 – 9% compared with the previous year. The data show that average weekly earnings from salary and wages are up 15% on 1998 figures.
Commenting on this data in Christchurch today, AUS National President Neville Blampied, said "This is good news for workers, and suggests that New Zealand may be making its way out of the low-wages path imposed by the Employment Contracts Act. At the same time, however, the skill margin for university staff has shrunk by 10% in only four years (1998 - 2001). University academic staff, who have doctorates and other advanced qualifications, and who work at the cutting edge of knowledge development are not getting the importance of their contribution to the knowledge society and innovation economy recognised. In fact, the opposite is happening. Their relative position in the economy is deteriorating."
Neville Blampied added "The worsening position of university staff is especially evident when year-on-year percentage increases in average weekly pay and university pay are compared. Whereas, average pay is now 15% up on 1998 rates, pay for university teachers has increased by only 4% since 1998. The increase was little more than 1% for university staff in 2001 versus 9% for the average worker."
"Finally," Neville Blampied noted, "even if university staff achieved the 8% pay rise they are claiming this year (less than the rise in average pay 2000-2001), their pay would be up only 12% over 1998, not the 15% by which average wages and salaries have increased in that period."
Neville Blampied attributes this deteriorating pattern in university pay to the complete failure of the current bargaining mechanisms for university salary setting. "New Zealand university pay rates are not only completely uncompetitive relative to international pay for highly qualified knowledge workers, they are increasingly uncompetitive relative to the rest of the New Zealand economy. It's not surprising that numerous university departments teeter on the brink of collapse as they struggle to fill vacancies with suitably qualified people. The situation will go on getting worse until the Government, the Vice-Chancellors and AUS are able to sit down and plan a rational and fair wage setting mechanism for the sector" he said.
Contact number for Neville Blampied: 021 680 475