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Major salary boost sought for university staff

24 February 2005

Major salary boost sought for university staff

University unions are recommending a salary claim of up to 30% for academic staff over the next three years in pay negotiations expected to get under way soon with university employers. A similar claim, to increase general (non-academic) staff salaries by 16% over the same period, along with a proposal to develop a national job evaluation scheme, will also be recommended.

The claims are expected to be endorsed by union members at a number of meetings over the next fortnight in the seven universities to be covered by the two proposed new national collective employment agreements for academic and general staff.

The academic salary claim is based around comparisons with the major Australian universities and domestic relativities with other groups of teachers. It is also intended to address recruitment and retention problems forecast to hit universities internationally by the end of the decade. Estimates are that more than 230,000 new academic staff will be needed by 2010 in the five countries (including New Zealand) from which New Zealand universities recruit the majority of their academic staff.

Spokesperson for the university unions, Association of University Staff General Secretary Helen Kelly, says analysis shows that New Zealand salaries lag significantly behind those in Australia. "On a straight conversion basis, New Zealand salaries are as much as 22% behind and, even when using OECD Comparative Price Level data, it is apparent that purchasing power value is up to 13% behind. Higher superannuation and leave benefits give the Australians a further margin of at least 11% on their New Zealand counterparts," she said.

Ms Kelly said that the proposed national job evaluation scheme for general staff would provide a mechanism to ensure that there is a consistent and equitable approach to salary-setting across the entire New Zealand university sector. "The current national skills shortage makes it imperative that university employers recognise that the role of highly skilled general staff is essential to ensuring and maintaining the high quality of New Zealand's research-based university education."


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