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New employment agreements settled at Otago Uni

New employment agreements settled at Otago University

Union members at the University of Otago have voted to settle new collective employment agreements, ending several months of industrial tension which included strike action and threatened disruption of student examination results.

More than 600 staff, who are members of five unions involved in the negotiations, voted by an average of more than 70 percent to ratify the new agreements. General staff will receive a 3.5% salary increase, effective from 1 June, and academic staff will receive a minimum salary increase of 3.5% from 1 May. A restructuring of the academic salary scales will provide further increases for academic staff at lecturer level and at senior lecturer above the bar.

Acting AUS Otago Branch President Sandy Graham said that the negotiations had been difficult and most staff would be relieved that they were now over. She said that while staff believed they had a strong and justifiable claim for increases above those which had been offered by the University, they had taken a pragmatic decision to accept the current proposals. "The issues which we raised to support a significant salary increase have not been resolved, and those arguments will be raised again in the next bargaining round," she said.

Ms Graham said the current Vice-Chancellor had a particularly confrontation approach to industrial relations and had threatened to suspend any union members who withheld examination grades in the current dispute. "Union members appreciate that the university sector is underfunded and there are wider issues to be resolved if we are to make progress", she said. "We look forward to a better relationship with the incoming Vice-Chancellor and working with him to resolve those long-standing salary disparities."

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