February 27, 2006 | by  |
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Staff Union vote on collective agreement

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has finished voting on whether to push for a Multi Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) for all university staff across the country.

Results of the ballot were unavailable at the time of writing, but AUS representative Marty Braithwaite was “pretty confident” MECA negotiations would be approved. Pay demands will be finalised this week and another round of voting will soon take place.

Last year AUS demanded a thirty percent pay increase for academic staff and sixteen percent for non-academic staff, along with a MECA across all universities. Negotiations broke down and strikes ensued. Eventually the dispute ended with staff at the various universities settling for increases of between two and five percent. Victoria staff received a four percent increase. Similar demands were also made in 2004, but AUS backed down.

Braithwaite says it is “more than likely” that similar demands will be made, with strikes “certainly possible” if negotiations break down. Although pay increases that large will require increased Government funding, Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh said that the university would “approach any bargaining proposal with an open mind”.

AUS is “entirely opposed” to universities funding staff pay rises with increased student fees and has a “very very clear position” on the responsibility of the Government to step in. Minister of Tertiary Education Michael Cullen’s office says the Government had not ruled out increased funding for the universities, but was having no direct role in negotiations between the universities and the union.

Last year AUS claimed that the pay increase demanded was necessary, publicising long-term funding decreases, an increasing staff to student ratio and the need for pay-parity with their overseas counterparts.

Victoria University’s academic staff have a wide salary range, with lecturers on a minimum of $54,442. On the other end of the scale, Professors receive a minimum salary of $102, 732.

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellor’s Committee declined to comment on the matter.

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