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Unitec accused of discrimination against union

MEDIA RELEASE
20th May 2009

Unitec accused of discrimination against staff who are union members

Allied (non-teaching) staff at Unitec have slammed their management for what they view as discrimination against union members.

Late last week, allied staff at Unitec, who are members of the Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association (TIASA), rejected a proposal to settle their collective Agreement negotiations, as it was not equitable with what Unitec had given non-union members.

“This matter could, and should be settled very easily, “said TIASA Chief Executive, Peter Joseph. “We have managed to move Unitec to a position where they are now offering the same percentage increase as they had provided non-union members but, they are wanting us to agree to a longer term for the agreement, whereas non-union staff can seek to negotiate it again at the end of this year – that is not an equitable proposal”, he said.

Joseph said it was difficult to understand why Unitec management would embark on such destructive course. “ These are loyal, hard working members of Unitec’s Staff, who also just happen to be union members”, he said. Unitec now claim that they would not treat union members inequitably, but that is exactly what they have done since bargaining commenced”, said Joseph.

TIASA members have picketed Unitec for the last two days and protests will escalate if the equity issue is not resolved.

TIASA Chief Executive, Peter Joseph has offered to meet with Unitec management urgently to continue discussions and attempt to resolve the matter.


A brief history:

• TIASA negotiated bargaining in November 2008, and followed up with a draft Good Faith Bargaining Agreement which included suggested dates in December for bargaining to commence.
• The collective agreement was due to expire on 31 December 2008.
• Unitec did not respond to TIASA’s correspondence although requested to on a number of occasions, until January this year. They advised they were not able to commence bargaining until mid-February.
• Effective from 1 January 2009, non-union staff at Unitec, were given a 4% salary increase. They are able to negotiate again in November.
• When the Unitec/TIASA negotiations commenced, Unitec advised they could/would not go beyond 2% for TIASA members, but also wish to remove some current conditions relating to Easter Tuesday and Penal time. They claimed that this stance was the result of Government and State Services Commission expectations for pay negotiations.
• TIASA members unanimously rejected Unitec’s position.
• TIASA referred the matter mediation – two working days before mediation was to take place, Unitec emailed a “final offer” which amended their offer to 4% (same as non-union members) BUT, for a two year term with no salary increase in the second year.
• TIASA responded saying that we could agree to the offer if the term was amended to one year – the same as non-union members.
• Unitec’s response was no.
• Mediation failed to resolve the matter.
• As a result of telephone discussions between the parties, the last one was as a Stopwork meeting of TIASA members to discuss their response to the failed mediation was taking place, Unitec amended their position. However it still provided for a 21 month term – not one year.
• TIASA has yet to receive from Unitec a sensible rationale for not having the same term (i.e. one year) as non-union members will enjoy.
• Unitec’s latest ‘final’ offer was unanimously rejected by TIASA members, and protest and industrial action is now escalating.

ENDS

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