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Otago staff make progress in university dispute

Combined University Unions
Media Release
21 March 2005

Otago staff make progress in university bargaining dispute

University staff have called on other New Zealand vice-chancellors to follow the lead of their Otago counterpart and work towards a national settlement of the current university bargaining dispute.

A meeting of more than six hundred staff yesterday afternoon voted overwhelmingly to accept an offer from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago to increase salaries by 5 percent, backdated to 1 May, and to continue discussions on multi-employer bargaining. The parties will meet no later than 8 August to deal with outstanding matters.

Speaking on behalf of the combined unions, Professor Nigel Haworth, said the settlement has created an opportunity for all vice-chancellors to settle the current dispute, allowing the parties to work constructively towards the resolution of long-term salary and workforce issues facing the sector.

Otago's Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, had told staff he has an open mind about multi-employer collective employment agreements (MECAs), saying it carries potential benefits and risks. The potential benefit would arise if settling a MECA could persuade the Government deal with the serious under-resourcing of New Zealand universities.

Professor Haworth said that Professor Skegg had shown the leadership and vision necessary to break the impasse in the current dispute, and it illustrated that other vice-chancellors had the capability to reach similar settlements. "Some vice chancellors refusal to move is based on a competitive model of university management, one which is outdated and inconsistent with the Government's tertiary education strategy," he said. "It is time for them to set aside their competitive ideology and end this dispute. Not to do so will be an injustice to both staff and students."


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