AUS Tertiary Update
Negotiations begin, Auckland present
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland will be represented by senior human resources staff as bargaining for new national multi-employer collective employment agreements for the university sector gets under way in Wellington today. The presence of three Auckland management representatives at the negotiations follows the decision of the Employment Court, released yesterday, which requires the Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, to participate in bargaining along with the other six universities.
In a well-publicised case brought by the Association of University Staff (AUS), a full bench of three judges rejected the University’s contention that it was entitled to refuse to attend the multi-employer negotiations, stating that the law does not allow the statutory process to be short-circuited by a party to the bargaining, as the University was attempting.
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.
Within hours of the Court’s ruling yesterday, however, the Vice-Chancellor sent an email message to staff reiterating the reasons he did not want to engage in national bargaining, and claiming some sort of victory from the case. It also stated, erroneously, that the Court had dismissed an application by AUS for a compliance order requiring the University to attend the negotiations, and a declaration that the Vice-Chancellor had breached good faith obligations.
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said that, despite the Court saying the Vice-Chancellor should not have made “unilateral communications [to staff] about matters at the heart of the bargaining”, he had, immediately following the decision, repeated the very behaviour the Court had criticised him for. “As such, it shows a cavalier disregard to the Court,” she said. “His statement showed even less regard to the facts. What the judges said was that, while they did not consider it appropriate or necessary at this stage to make a compliance order, they specifically left the way open for a compliance order if the Vice-Chancellor continued to breach his obligations.”
“Despite wasting valuable public funding pursuing a bargaining strategy based on incorrect legal advice, the Vice-Chancellor now has the opportunity to put that behind him and engage in a constructive bargaining process,” said Ms Kelly. “Salaries of the magnitude needed to ensure the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff throughout the university sector can be achieved through national collective agreements. Such agreements would be good for the entire university sector, and would provide an ideal mechanism for increased government funding to be targeted to salaries,” she said.
Strike action to protest at the Vice-Chancellor’s actions, scheduled to take place next week, has been called off following the Court decision.
The full Court decision can be viewed on the AUS website www.aus.ac.nz/news/2005/AkldDecision.pdf
in Tertiary Update this week
1. Student allowance figures plummet
2. Wananga drops university title
3. Fullbright scholarships doubled
4. Australian reforms intended to break collective bargaining
5. Labour loses support from academics and students
6. Staff, student in Philippine kidnap
Student allowance figures
The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, has come under widespread criticism this week following the release of figures which reveal that, despite of assurances to the contrary, the number of students receiving student allowances is dropping dramatically.
The latest Studylink figures reveal that 40,434 students received an allowance in the first quarter of this year compared to 52,465 in 2001, a drop of 23 percent. Student numbers increased by 28 percent over the same period.
Co-President of the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA), Andrew Kirton, said that the Government had promised in last year’s Budget, when eligibility criteria were changed, that 36,000 more students would receive an allowance in 2005. “Instead, there have been 3,000 fewer,” he said.
Yesterday, NZUSA invoiced the Government for the ten weeks of living costs on behalf of the 36,000 students who should have received an allowance this year, but didn’t. “We are invoicing the Government because as a result of this bungle, students who should have received the allowance have been forced to borrow from the loan scheme just to pay for their rent and groceries,” said Mr Kirton.
Green MP Nandor Tanczos attempted to table the invoice, for $54 million, in Parliament yesterday, but was denied permission. “The Government has been boasting around campuses that it has increased access to student allowances,” he said. “Yet these figures completely contradict that boast and put the lie to the Government’s claim to be improving the lot of students.
National’s Education spokesman, Bill English, accused Trevor Mallard of deceit, saying he was making public statements about increased spending on the allowances while knowing it hasn’t happened. He said that, while Trevor Mallard was made aware of the sharp decline in students receiving the allowance on 17 February, he was saying in March that Labour would spend $223 million over the next four years on more student allowances.
Trevor Mallard told Parliament yesterday that there was a variety of reasons for the drop-off, including a decline in enrolments, increased part-time study, more students working and higher parental incomes. “Part of the problem with this issue is that it is just all good news,” he said.
The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) says it will continue to monitor Te Wananga o Aotearoa following agreement that it would stop using the protected term “university” in its advertising and promotion. The agreement follows a complaint from NZVCC earlier in the year to the Minister of Education and the Advertising Standards Authority that the Wananga was describing itself as “The University of New Zealand”.
Last year, Tertiary Update reported that the Wananga had registered the name “University of New Zealand Ltd” in 2002, and was accompanying its name, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, with “translation, University of New Zealand” on promotional and marketing material, including its website. The Wananga then dropped the word translation altogether, prompting the NZVCC to take action on the basis that the description was misleading and deceptive.
“Basically, they're saying they're the University of New Zealand which they are not,” NZVCC Executive Director Lindsay Taiaroa said. He said that students from overseas would not realise the Wananga was not a university and domestic students who had not been to a university might also believe the Wananga was a university.
Mr Taiaroa said that the NZVCC wanted to guard against misuse of the word university, which is a protected term under the Education Act.
The NZVCC also reports that the Registrar of Companies will write to sixteen registered entities using the word “university” in their title in a manner which he considers may breach the Education Act. The Act prohibits use of the term “university” to describe an educational establishment or facility unless it is a properly accredited university or it has the Minister’s permission to use the term. If the organisations are unable to prove they are properly accredited or have permission to use the term “university”, they will be directed to remove the term from their names
Fullbright scholarships doubled
In one of the Government’s pre-Budget releases, it was announced yesterday that the number of Fullbright Scholarships, available to young New Zealanders engaging in post-graduate study in the United States, will be doubled at a cost of $2.7 million over four years. According to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Steve Maharey, the funding increase will create new scholarships in areas that are important to New Zealand’s economic growth, such as information technology, the creative industries and biotechnology. From next year, an additional ten Fullbright awards will be available.
Mr Maharey said that the experience Fullbright Scholars get while studying and researching overseas pays dividends for New Zealand on their return home. “With this investment we are making sure our best and brightest get an opportunity to gain knowledge that will further their careers and contribute to New Zealand’s economy and society,” he said.
The Fullbright programme was established in 1946, with more than 1,100 recipient New Zealanders travelling to the United States since then to further their studies.
The national Budget, with further details of tertiary education spending, will be released in 19 May.
Australian reforms intended to break collective bargaining
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has announced sweeping industrial reforms for the Australian university sector and, in what has been described as unprecedented intervention in the sector, has tied those changes to federal funding.
In a speech to the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association conference last Friday, Mr Andrews set out the changes which are spearheaded by the systematic breakdown of collective bargaining, starting with a requirement that all new university employees be offered individual Australian Workplace Agreements from 29 April 2005, and existing employees by 31 August 2006. Such agreements will expressly displace existing industrial awards and agreements.
The new agreements must be accompanied by the implementation of a “fair and transparent performance management scheme which rewards high performing individual staff” and an “efficient process for managing poor performing staff”.
The reforms provide that there must be no limitations on the “form of and mix of employment arrangements”, opening the way for unrestricted use of casual, part-time and fixed-term labour
Union involvement in workplace relations and human resources matters will only be at the express invitation of university employees, and money allocated to universities under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme must be directed to provide teaching and learning and not used to subsidise union accommodation or activities.
To be eligible for any increase in government funding, universities must be able to demonstrate that they are implementing the reforms.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), which represents more than 27,000 university staff, says it will fight the Federal Government’s proposed reforms with complaints to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations. He also promised “significant” industrial action, including strike action, leading to a national protest in late June.
NTEU General Secretary Grahame McCulloch told The Australian that the Union would refer to the ILO convention on the right to collectively bargain, and to UNESCO’s 1998 instrument on the rights of the teaching personnel, which not only contains provisions about collective bargaining but also on the independence and autonomy of universities.
Labour loses support from academics and
Labour’s electoral dominance on Britain’s campuses may come to an end this week, according to two exclusive polls conducted for The Times Higher. An ICM Research poll of 500 academics reveals that the Liberal Democrats have, for the first time, taken a narrow lead over the Labour Party in the campus vote. Labour’s support from academics has fallen from 65 percent in 2001 to 41 percent now, while support for the Liberal Democrats has risen from 22 percent to 44 percent over the same time. The Tories are on 10 percent, up from 7 percent in 2001.
A separate poll of 1,020 undergraduates, carried out by Opinionpanel Research at the end of April, gives the Liberal Democrats a 47 percent share of the student vote, up from 39 percent in February. Labour attracted only 23 percent support in the poll. Three out of four students, however, believe Labour will win the election.
On a ten point turn-out scale, where ten is certain, 68 percent of students and 82 percent of academics ranked their likelihood of voting at between seven and ten.
Staff, student in Philippine
Disgruntled former employees, who claim they were improperly dismissed from the Mindanao State University in the Philippines, were behind the recent kidnapping of thirteen staff and students, according to the University’s President, Camar A. Umpa.
Mindanao State University faculty members and students have been the target of at least four other kidnappings in recent years. In each instance the hostages were released unharmed.
The kidnappings began in 2000, soon after Mr Umpa was appointed President. He immediately earned enemies when he sacked what he claimed were “excess administrative staff” hired by his predecessor.
In an unrelated incident, a man barged into Mr Umpa’s office claiming that he had been named the new President of the University. With him were two hundred supporters who had been told they would be given jobs as security guards if Mr Umpa was successfully ousted.
Chronicle of Higher Education
AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz . Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email: email@example.com