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Green light for salary bargaining in universities

Green light for national salary bargaining in universities

Members of the major unions representing staff in New Zealand’s universities have voted overwhelmingly to support the negotiation of national collective employment agreements in the next bargaining round. A ballot, conducted on a university-by-university basis, has endorsed a recommendation by the unions to move from enterprise-based bargaining at each university to the negotiation of one national collective agreement for academic staff and another for general staff.

More than 95 percent (1906) of the 1993 academic staff that participated in the ballot voted in support of the proposal, and 94 percent (1802) of the 1907 general staff also voted to support national bargaining. The result means that bargaining with the universities will be initiated in April and it is expected that formal negotiations will commence in May.

Combined unions’ spokesperson, Marty Braithwaite, said he was pleased with the result as, following last year’s negotiations, the unions have been engaged in a tripartite process with the Government and vice-chancellors to find solutions to long-standing funding and salary problems facing the university sector. “The high number of union members voting in this ballot, along with the high level of support for national bargaining, has given us a very clear mandate to continue this process with university employers,” he said. “It also shows that university staff appreciate the link between funding and salaries, and support the view that the best means to improve salaries is through a national collective bargaining process.”

Mr Braithwaite said that the unions’ position would be strengthened by the inclusion of AUT and that he expected university employers to support the decision of union members and recognise that the salary crisis in the sector was an issue that would only be resolved on a national basis, and with the co-operation of university employers, unions and the Government. “We are providing the vice-chancellors with the mechanism of national collective employment agreements to make this happen,” he said.

Unions participating in the process include the Association of University Staff (AUS), the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE), the Public Service Association (PSA) the Tertiary Institutes’ Allied Staff Association (TIASA), the New Zealand Building Trades Union, the Amalgamated Workers union and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU).

ENDS

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