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University of Otago staff say no to setting exams


Attention: Education and Industrial Reporters
16 August 2002

University of Otago staff say no to setting exams

University of Otago academic and general staff union members today voted to withhold exam questions until the employer puts an improved pay offer on the table. A half-day strike on September 2 has also been called if progress in negotiations has not been made.

Negotiations between the university and the combined union team, representing members of the Association of University Staff (AUS), the Public Service Association (PSA), Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), NZ Building Trades Union (NZBTU) and the Amalgamated Workers Union (AWUNZ) broke down on Wednesday after the employer refused to increase the salary offer of 1.5%

More than 350 members attended meetings called to discuss the state of negotiations. Combined Unions spokesperson, Shef Rogers, said union members were appalled that the employer offer remained below the rate of inflation, effectively forcing staff to take a cut in income.

"We are disappointed that again the university employer has created a situation where members feel they are left with no option other than taking action to achieve a reasonable settlement. Unfortunately, it seems this is the only thing the employer will listen to. Otago union members embarked on a campaign of action earlier this year that included withholding exam marks and working to rule. Last minute negotiations prevented the disruption of enrolment in February. "We thought the administration had come to realise that staff salaries have to be a priority for the institution, but nothing in these negotiations so far has indicated that. We are disappointed to be back in conflict so soon, and we hope that the offer can be increased quickly," added Dr. Rogers.

"It is not our desire to cause difficulties for students. However, our employer has demonstrated it will only respond to this type of action. We have informed the Students' Association, who understand our anger at the paltry salary offer. It is our hope that students will let the Vice-Chancellor know that this is an unacceptable way to treat staff, who have seen their salaries decline in real terms over the past decade while facing increased workloads as student numbers have increased."

A stopwork meeting has been called for August 28, in the hope that the employer will have improved the offer by then--otherwise further industrial action is likely.

Shef Rogers 479 8892 (work) 4730-527 (after hours)
Mark Ryan 4747400 (work)

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