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University unions & employers to meet

University unions & employers to meet

University unions and employers will meet in Wellington on Wednesday this week for discussions prior to the formal commencement of national collective agreement bargaining in the university sector later in the month.

It follows the announcement last week that university unions are to claim a salary increase of 10% per annum over the next three years for academic staff and 10% in 2004 for general (non-academic) staff plus increases in job evaluation alignments to the higher quartiles of the salary market.

The union and employer parties are expecting to arrange dates for bargaining and to formalise bargaining protocols at the meeting.

AUS Industrial Officer Jeff Rowe has been named as the lead advocate for the unions. He will be assisted by Jenny Chapman from the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) and Mark Ryan (PSA), and a team of 12 staff from the seven universities cited as parties to the negotiations.

The unions are seeking national collective employment agreements for academic and general staff, as part of an effort to ensure the long term sustainability of high-quality university education in New Zealand.

Association of University Staff National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that cuts in real funding to universities over the last 12 years had not only eroded the pay and working conditions of staff, but were also increasingly affecting the quality of education for students.

Dr Rosenberg said that staff are the crucial factor in determining the quality of university education scholarship and research. “Higher workloads, reduced opportunity for research and a decaying university infrastructure have combined to provide a serious threat to the credibility and reputation of New Zealand universities. We are determined that this must be rectified,” he said

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