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Green light for national salary bargaining

17 December 2004

Green light for national salary bargaining in universities

Members of the Association of University Staff (AUS) have voted overwhelmingly to support the negotiation of national collective employment agreements in the next bargaining round.

The ballot, conducted on a university-by-university basis, endorsed a recommendation by the AUS and other university unions, to move from enterprise-based bargaining at each university campus to the negotiation of one national collective agreement for academic staff and another for general staff employed in the seven traditional universities.

1509 (94.3%) of the 1600 academic staff who participated in the ballot voted in support of the proposal, and 1442 (92.5%) of the 1558 general staff also voted to support national bargaining.

The result means that bargaining with the universities will be initiated early in the New Year, and it is expected that formal negotiations will commence in February.

AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly, said she was delighted with the result. “The high number of those voting, along with the high level of support for the proposal, has given the AUS a very clear mandate to enter national bargaining with university employers, and we look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with them in the New Year.”

“It also shows that university staff appreciate the very clear link between funding and salaries, and support the view that the Government has a responsibility to increase sector funding significantly in order to resolve long-standing problems with salary levels.”

Ms Kelly said that the Government had given a clear signal that national employment agreements could be used as a mechanism to ensure that any additional public funding delivered to universities would be used to address salary disparities. “The Minister has said that he is interested in a targeted approach to salaries because, although tertiary education funding has increased by 46.4 percent in real terms since 1999, it has not adequately found its way into salaries.”

Ms Kelly said she expected university employers to support the decision of union members and recognise that the salary crisis in the sector was an issue that would only be resolved on a national basis, and with the co-operation of university employers, unions and the Government. “We have provided them with the mechanism to make this happen,” she said


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