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March 13, 2006 | by  | in News |
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AUS seek 10% wage hike Strike action possible

The Association of University Staff (AUS) and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) are seeking a pay increase of ten percent for academic staff and six percent for general staff as a first step in achieving significantly higher salaries.

AUS last year demanded pay rises of thirty percent and sixteen percent for academic and general staff respectively over three years, under a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA). However, after strikes AUS backed down and accepted preliminary pay increases of between two and five percent.

AUS members voted overwhelmingly to push for a MECA, with ninety-six percent support among academic staff and ninety-four percent among general staff. Although only fifty-three percent of union members voted, AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly noted that even if all the members who did not vote voted no, the MECA would still have been approved.

AUS has claimed that there is a need for significant pay rises as the salaries of university staff are significantly lower than those internationally. In a report delivered by AUS and NZVCC to the Minister of Tertiary Education Michael Cullen, evidence was given showing that Australian universities spend forty percent more per student than universities in New Zealand as a result of more government funding and higher fees. NZVCC Chair Professor Roy Sharp says there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many academic staff were leaving the country.

AUS has made it clear that any pay rise should not come as a result of student fee hikes, meaning significant pay rises will likely need to come from increased Government funding. Salient understands that the Government has been keen to continue talking about the current request.

Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen’s office said that “any wage claim is a matter for staff and employers”, though it was also noted that the Government “accepts that there are specific issues for universities”.

Negotiations are being conducted between the NZVCC, the AUS and the Government at the Universities’ Tripartite Forum, but formal negotiations between AUS and the universities must be initiated by March 20.

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