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MPs' pay hike confirms case for university staff

MPs pay hike confirms case for university staff as pay negotiations begin

The pay hike for members of parliament, announced last week, confirms the need for salaries in the university sector to lift substantially according to the National President of the Association of University Staff, Dr Bill Rosenberg.

Dr Rosenberg said that prior to 1988, backbench members of parliament and university senior lecturers had the same salaries, both set by Higher Salaries Commission. The latest increase now gives those MPs a margin of $36,671, or 50%, over the senior lecturers.

“This further confirms that New Zealand university salaries are languishing behind both international and relevant domestic comparators,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “It also seems extraordinary that government ministers have accepted their increased salaries without question, yet refuse to adequately address unsatisfactory levels of university funding. This is particularly galling as they know that salary increases in the university sector are reliant on increased funding”.

Just last Friday, the Tertiary Education Minister, Steve Maharey, stated that “Tertiary education is key” to achieving his government’s vision for New Zealand as a ‘knowledge society’. ‘The “knowledge society” is far more than a quick cliché – it’s an imperative’, he said. “How can University staff be expected to achieve this ‘imperative’ when funding has fallen by one third since 1991?” asked Dr Rosenberg.

University staff have claimed an increase to salaries of 10% per annum over the next three years for academic staff, and 10% in 2004 for general staff plus increases in job evaluation alignments to the higher quartiles of the salary market.

The unions will be seeking new national collective employment agreements with provisions to increase staff involvement in strategic decision making within universities and measures to ensure protection against increasing workloads.

Negotiations resume in Wellington this week on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 November.

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