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University salaries must be addressed

University salaries must be addressed

A national pay scale for university staff is essential if New Zealand is to avoid a two-tier system which would unfairly advantage students from wealthy families and those lucky enough to live in the ‘right’ cities, says the Public Service Association (PSA).

The PSA is one of the unions seeking to develop a multi-union, multi-employer collective employment agreement for staff employed by the seven traditional universities. The PSA represents many general staff (including librarians, administrators and finance staff) and most of the non-academic staff previously employed by colleges of education prior to their mergers with universities.

PSA Organiser Keith McFadyen said as university staff are specialists, not easily replaceable in local employment markets, national pay scales are the best way of ensuring talented people are willing to work for at each of New Zealand’s universities.

“New Zealand has a small and closely connected university system. The era of petty competitiveness between the institutions is long over with government funding rules actually advantaging those universities who work together.

“In this context it makes absolutely no sense for vice-chancellors to refuse to develop standardised terms and conditions for all university staff. Standing aloof means it is much harder to pursue further funding from government and it risks creating a two-tier university system as quality staff concentrate at one or two universities.

“An international marketplace operates for academic and many general university staff. If New Zealand cannot pay fair wages in this marketplace we will lose staff to bigger universities in other countries.

“PSA members regret the impact of today’s strike action on students but they feel they have no other way of expressing their concern that some vice-chancellors would prefer to build their own empires, rather than act in the national interest,” Keith McFadyen said.


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