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Staff protest rally at University of Auckland

Staff protest rally at University of Auckland

A protest rally will be held outside the University of Auckland Registry, Princess St., Auckland between 12 noon and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 15 March 2005.

This relates to the actions of the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon who has refused to enter bargaining for national collective employment agreements for university staff and, in a move which is seen by the Association of University Staff as an attack on the unions, has offered non-union staff at the University a salary increase of 4.5 percent.

The media release below, sent out Friday, contains further details.

Auckland attempts to scuttle national university wage bargaining

Staff members at the University of Auckland are furious at their Vice-Chancellor's attempts to scuttle national collective bargaining by offering non-union staff a 4.5 percent salary increase on the eve of union negotiations. The Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, has also refused to enter national bargaining negotiations with the university unions, saying that he will only negotiate an Auckland University agreement.

Non-union staff members at the University of Auckland were today offered the 4.5 percent pay rise, effective from 1 May 2005, without any negotiation and without notice to the unions. Those staff will be given the pay rise unless they specifically inform the University they do not wish to receive it.

Speaking on behalf of the combined university unions, the Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that the refusal of University of Auckland to enter national multi-employer bargaining compromised the sector's collective ability to resolve the long-standing underfunding of New Zealand universities and the consequent inadequate salary levels.

“The union views the offer to non-union staff as a clearly calculated attempt by Stuart McCutcheon to undermine the proposed national bargaining with unions,” said Professor Haworth. “It is a direct attack on the choice of that University's staff to belong to and bargain through a union, and is exceptionally poor employment practice. It is also a clear breach of good faith.”

Professor Haworth said that the Vice-Chancellor's action was more questionable given that he had not indicated his intentions in an open and frank discussion about bargaining with AUS officials earlier in the week. “For a State Sector employer, who is also Chair of the New Zealand Vice Chancellors Committee, this is an extraordinary way to respond to his responsibilities,” he said. “His actions are in direct contravention to the Government's expectations and intentions in terms of building good employment relationships and collective bargaining.”

Professor Haworth also warned that the actions of the Vice-Chancellor were destined to lead to industrial unrest at Auckland . “The Government has acknowledged that universities have missed out on their share of public funding, and that salaries have suffered as a result. We will not stand back and let Stuart McCutcheon undermine the collective sectoral approach to resolving funding and salary problems,” he said

National discussions between university employers and unions are scheduled to get underway on 15 March.

ENDS

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