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AUS Tertiary UpdateVol.5 No.40 , 31 October 2002

In our lead story this week…..
Otago Continues Case Against AUS
Otago University has decided to proceed with legal action against AUS, despite its initial interim defeat in the Employment Court. Earlier in October Employment Court Judge, Bruce Palmer, rejected the University's application for an interim injunction to stop strikes at the University. The University sought an interim injunction after a series of half-day rolling stoppages accompanied by pickets.
AUS's lawyer, Peter Cranney, described the Court's decision as "an important affirmation of the right to strike". The Court held that while the University had an arguable case, AUS's case was "appreciably stronger".
Otago is seeking declarations and costs against AUS, even though strike action is no longer threatened following the recent settlement of the collective agreements.
Otago have decided to push ahead to have the case heard in full on the basis of what they describe as the "potential significance" of the issue.
General Secretary of AUS, Helen Kelly, has described Otago's decision to proceed as unusual, particularly as the collective agreements have been settled and no further strike action is being contemplated.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Otago Settles, industrial action looms at Waikato
2. Wellington College of Education joins the fray
3. Victimisation of Queensland Academic sends warning signal
4. British Academic freedom victory
5. Australian tech-unis may join forces
6. Academics Killed in Arizona Slaying

Otago settles, industrial action looms at Waikato
Otago staff have voted by a significant majority to accept an offer of a 4% across-the-board salary to settle both their academic and general staff collective agreements. The settlement comes after a long period of troubled negotiations, starting with a 1.5% offer from the employer and increasing to the 4%, only after strike action, industrial mediation and a trip (see story above) to the Employment Court.
Waikato staff are to consider industrial action following the failure of the University to increase its 2.5% salary offer to academic and general staff. It is expected that staff will vote to withhold examination results and grades and undertake a series of actions to bring the dispute more strongly to the attention of the Vice Chancellor and University Council.
Despite two further days of negotiations at Canterbury, the salary offer there remains at 1% for all staff including academic and general staff and trades and cleaners. If accepted, the proposed new academic salary scales would see Canterbury rates slide from amongst the best in the country to around 4th.

Wellington College of Education joins the fray
Lecturers at the Wellington College of Education are planning a campaign of escalating action to support their claim for a 3.25% salary increase. Association of Staff in Tertiary Education president Jill Ovens says the lecturers voted to begin industrial action unless there is a “revised and improved offer”. The campaign will kick off with a ban on all College meetings, excepting union meetings.
“The union has been in negotiations since July, but WCE isn’t willing to go beyond 2.5%”, said Jill Ovens. “They know this is not enough to attract fully qualified and experienced teachers to the College because they want to be able to offer new lecturers more than our existing staff on the lecturer scale.
“As far as our members are concerned, that just shows how little respect they have for existing staff.”
Ms Ovens says the recent primary and secondary teacher pay increases mean that the College will have difficulty attracting classroom teachers because the College’s proposed salary increase is considerably lower.

World Watch
Victimisation of Queensland Academic sends warning signal
Australia’s National Tertiary Eduction Union (NTEU) believes a decision by University of Queensland not to renew the contract of a senior academic and outspoken opponent of the University’s plans to introduce full fees, is a serious attack on freedom of speech and a warning to all university staff who do not have protection against arbitrary dismissal, including those on casual or fixed term contracts.
George Lafferty, Associate Professor at the UQ School of Business, Economics and Law, and President of the UQ Branch of the NTEU, was informed of management’s decision not to renew his employment without reason in late August. “The normal procedure with a contract like Lafferty’s is for management to offer continuing employment, particularly when the work is ongoing and the employee’s performance is rated well.” Said NTEU Queensland Secretary, Howard Guille
“The lack of convincing reasons given by management leads the Union to believe that this is victimisation due to Lafferty’s political actions as the head of the NTEU branch at UQ,” said Guille. “This includes his vocal opposition to the University’s proposal for full fee paying domestic undergraduate students and his insistence on management compliance with the current enterprise bargaining agreement.

British Academic freedom victory
The British House of Lords has voted to include a defence of academic freedom in the government's Export Control Bill. This decision was warmly welcomed by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) who have been working closely with Universities UK to amend the bill.

Australian tech-unis may join forces
Australia's technology-based universities are considering linking as a single institution with more than 100,000 students in five states. The move is widely been seen as an effort to get a bigger share of the research funding that goes to the older university establishments.

Academics Killed in Arizona Slaying
Three Professors and a bystander were killed in a series of shootings on Monday at the University of Arizona, apparently by a student who later turned the gun on himself.
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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: Direct enquiries to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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