Industrial Action at Victoria University:
INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT VICTORIA
FINAL GRADES TO BE WITHHELD
Commitments from Victoria University academic staff to withhold final grades poured in yesterday,as soon as AUS requested that members indicate how many final grades would be affected by their actions. Within only a few hours staff had committed to withhold nearly 2500 (2492) grades. AUS Branch Presidents expect it will take one to two weeks to collect and collate all of the commitments from their academic members but are very pleased with the results from the first half day.
"This action is a result of the frustration staff are feeling about the Vice-Chancellor's stance in negotiations. Staff cannot comprehend why the Vice-Chancellor has made his offer of 3.2% conditional on clawbacks which will compromise our ability to bargain in future negotiations" said Tony Quinn, AUS General Staff Branch President.
These clawbacks include a late claim from the university to alter the term of the agreement, after staff had called off a strike on March 4th. This claim would schedule the early stages of negotiations in December and January, after the university budget has been set, and when most staff must take annual leave because teaching time restricts their ability to take leave at other times. In addition the university has requested a Memorandum of Understanding which links 1.2% of the 3.2% to Government funding.
"Most other universities have settled or are about to settle without conditions of this sort," said Christine McCarthy, AUS Academic Branch President. "In addition, union members at these universities have been assured that non-union staff will have limited benefit from their collective negotiations. Victoria University is unusual in its resistance to resolving negotiations. Waikato staff have been offered 3.2%, Massey has offered 3.5% and Canterbury staff have an offer of 3.2% despite their financial difficulties."
Victoria University has made a remarkable recovery from a projected budget deficit of $2.8 million to a profit of $5.1 million - a $7.9 million improvement over budget. The AUS attributes this profit to increasing staff workloads as student numbers increase. Last year, staff carried the burden of a huge increase in student numbers. Student revenue increased 10% - while spending on staff only increased 1.4%. (source: Victoria University Annual Reports: http://www.vuw.ac.nz/annualreports/)
"Today it was announced that staff must cope with further increases in student numbers - this time of 3.9%. This is almost double the 2% increase which was predicted. We are facing increasing pressures on staff in all areas: academics, librarians, technicians, and administration. At the same time the Vice-Chancellor is trying to limit our ability to bargain in negotiations" said Tony Quinn.
Tony Quinn, AUS General Staff President, 463 6187
Christine McCarthy, AUS Academic Staff President, 463 6164