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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 38, 17 October

AUS WEB SITE
In our lead story this week…..
PROPOSED SETTLEMENTS AT OTAGO AND MASSEY UNIVERSITY
Following further negotiations last week at both Massey and Otago, union members at both Universities will meet during the next two weeks to consider ratification.
University of Otago staff will become the highest paid university workers in New Zealand if they accept a new pay deal. Union negotiators expect the academic and general staff to accept the 4 percent rise, packaged with a commitment by the university to look at recruitment and retention problems.
The offer comes after a lengthy negotiating round. If ratified by staff at meetings on Thursday and Friday next week, lecturers would be paid up to $61,830, senior lecturers up to $82,160 and professors up to $118,980.
At Auckland University, lecturers will be paid up to $60,490 and senior lecturers up to $80,640. There is no specified upper limit for professors.
Negotiators from the five combined unions involved would recommend staff accept the offer.
A further two days of productive negotiations concluded on Friday for the Massey University Collective Agreement. The combined union team from those negotiations, will be recommending that Massey union members at meetings in two weeks time ratify the deal hammered out.
“We have been pleased at the tenor of this year’s negotiations compared to previous rounds, and members at meetings last week expressed that pleasure as well. Our negotiators look forward to a robust debate on the merits of the current offer at our stopwork meetings,” said Combined Union Spokesperson Dr Karen Rhodes.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Otago decision affirms right to strike
2. Safeguards added to tertiary legislation
3. Student loan average a myth
4. Opposition to UNITEC-AUT merger
5. Harper College Faculty strike

DECISION AFFIRMS RIGHT TO STRIKE
A recent Employment Court decision affirms the right of workers to lawfully
strike in pursuit of settling Collective Employment Agreements. The University of Otago unsuccessfully sought an injunction on strike action by staff at the University, after a series of rolling stoppages by academic union members two weeks ago.
AUS Otago Branch President Shef Rogers said members were pleased with the result. "Members were angry that the university again chose to litigate rather than negotiate during bargaining. We are concerned at the cost that the university management are prepared to incur litigating."

SAFEGUARDS PROPOSED FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION REFORM LEGISLATION
The government is proposing several changes to strengthen and clarify the intent of the major tertiary education reform legislation before Parliament and provide safeguards around the way new Ministerial powers can be exercised.
Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey has circulated the amendments the government will seek to the Tertiary Education Reform Bill during its Parliamentary clause-by-clause debate, which is expected to commence this week.
The proposed changes provide a number of important safeguards to the exercise of the Ministers new powers in the Bill. Included in the changes is a new objects clause, provision for public submissions to be considered in the setting of student fee limits, and a review, by no later than 1 March 2006, of the new export education levy the bill allows for.

THE MYTH OF AVERAGE STUDENT LOANS
The Aotearoa Tertiary Students’ Association (ATSA) takes issue with the government claim that “the average Student Loan balance at 30 June 2002 was $12,643.” They say the figure is misleading and paints an unclear picture of real Student Loan Debt because there are so many variables involved. They say an average loan based on all borrowers is simply not credible. “New Borrowers, those who have almost repaid, and the whole range in between, can contribute to a lower looking average,” said Julie Pettett, President of ATSA. “The solution is to use the average debt of particular groups, such as recent graduates or graduates by qualification.”

UNIVERSITY STAFF OPPOSE PROPOSAL FOR UNITEC-AUT MERGER
The proposed merger of Auckland University of Technology and Unitec, to form a single “university” has been denounced by the Association of University Staff [AUS] for making a mockery of the goals of university education. AUS expects that the Government will say “no” to the merger when it makes its final decision on the matter.
“While Unitec does offer degrees, to become a university they must either abandon their very useful role in trades training and vocational skill development, or retain those trade certificates and make the status of university virtually meaningless,” said Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President.
Dr Duncan asked whether Unitec should be allowed to get university status by the “back door” method of merging with an existing university.
Dr Duncan commented that, “New Zealand does not need a further university campus, and the proposal for the AUT-Unitec merger would do nothing to achieve the national goals of improving vocational skills and of raising the quality of university education. We would be better served by focusing on achieving world-class university standards on the one hand, and practical technical skills development on the other. This means keeping clear institutional boundaries around those different missions.”

WORLD WATCH

HARPER COLLEGE FACULTY HIT THE PICKET LINES
Faced with a management team unwilling to budge on salary and health insurance takebacks, the 210 full-time faculty at Harper College in Palatine, Ill., are set to go out on strike.
The union, the Harper College Faculty Senate, is affiliated with the Cook County College Teachers Union/IFT. Management is asking the faculty to absorb a larger portion of rising health insurance costs by lifting the employer/employee cap on the current 80 percent/20 percent share of the costs.
The employer also wants to fold in the cost of promotions into the base salary offer. What this amounts to, says CCCTU president Norm Swenson, is an across-the-board increase of 3.3 percent, not 5 percent as the college claims it is offering. The union is asking for a 6 percent raise.
There are other issues at stake in this strike, adds Swenson, such as the right of due process, fair evaluations and full hearings in disciplinary matters.

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AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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