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University required to bargain

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed a decision by the full bench of the Employment Court requiring the University of Auckland to participate, with other universities, in bargaining for multi-employer collective employment agreements (MECA).

The Court found in favour of the AUS in relation to its central complaint, that the Employment Relations Act requires the University to bargain for a MECA.

The Court rejected the University’s contention, that it was entitled to refuse to attend MECA negotiations, stating that the law does not allow the statutory process to be short-circuited by a party to the bargaining, as the University attempted.

The Court also criticised the Vice-Chancellor for the timing, unilateral nature, and personal distribution of emails to staff, which it thought “may, in all of the circumstances have undermined the bargaining”. The Court held that the Vice-Chancellor should not have made such communications until discussions with the union about the bargaining process had been undertaken.

AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said that the union wanted national bargaining because it would be good for the entire university sector. “Salaries of the magnitude needed in the sector, to ensure the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff, would be achieved through national collective agreements, and properly funded by government,” she said. “The Vice-Chancellor has been short-sighted in his actions by opposing the MECA, and bargaining had been delayed for months as a result.”

Ms Kelly said the Vice-Chancellor had wasted valuable public funding pursuing a bargaining strategy on legal advice that which has been proven incorrect. “We hope he will now simply get on with it and bargain,” she said.

Ends

For further information or comment please contact:
Helen Kelly, General Secretary, Association of University Staff (AUS)
Ph (04) 915 6690 (work) (04) 385 3153 (home) 027 436 6308 (mobile)
Email helen.kelly@canterbury.ac.nz

For further information or comment please contact

For background information please contact
Marty Braithwaite, Communications Officer, AUS
Ph (04) 915 2680 (work) 027 274 7795 (mobile)
Email marty.braithwaite@aus.ac.nz

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