University Negotiations Reach Crunch Point
Association of University Staff
27 May 2005
University negotiations reach crunch point
Negotiations between the combined staff unions and university employers made little progress yesterday after the employers advised the unions that they were not prepared to enter into multi-employer collective employment agreements. As a result, the unions will now be considering industrial action.
Most of the employers made salary offers conditional on the unions accepting single employer collective agreements. These offers ranged between 2 percent (Massey) and 4.5 percent (Auckland, who made this offer earlier and are already paying it to their staff). Victoria University also made a lower offer to general staff than for academic staff. Some of the universities are also claiming significant claw backs to conditions of employment.
The combined unions' negotiating team says that the salary offers are inadequate and will be unacceptable to union members. The employers claim that they do not have the ability to pay more in the current funding environment, and that they have made their best offers.
The combined unions have claimed national agreements with salary increases which would barely bring them into line with their Australian counterparts, and would have university lecturers with salaries similar to kindergarten, primary and secondary school teachers in New Zealand.
Combined unions lead advocate, Jeff Rowe, said that this is clear evidence that the unions' claim for national multi-employer collective agreements is the only viable strategy that will immediately alleviate the crisis in university salaries, one which government ministers have now openly recognised
Meetings of union members at the seven universities involved in the negotiations will take place between 1 June and 10 June. They will discuss the process to date and ballot members to consider industrial action should the next two days of bargaining not make satisfactory progress.
The next two days of bargaining, scheduled for 14 and 15 June, will be assisted by an industrial mediator.