Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 2

Academic members of the union at the University of Auckland will be meeting next week to consider industrial action after the university failed to respond to their concerns over their employment negotiations last week.

After little progress was made in negotiations last year, the two sides resumed bargaining this year with mediation assistance from the Department of Labour.

The employer is seeking to remove several important terms and conditions from the collective employment agreement, placing them instead into university policy documents. If that happens the policies will be decided by university managers rather than as part of a negotiation between staff and management. These conditions include areas such as academic grades – standards and criteria, research and study leave, disciplinary procedures and outside activities.

These are key conditions which enable academic staff to do their work effectively. They have formed part of the academic collective employment agreement for many years after being agreed to between staff and the employer in successive sets of negotiations

Currently the university has offered a 4 percent pay rise in return for the removal of the conditions from the collective agreement. In response union members have said that they would prefer to retain the conditions in return for a lesser pay rise or even no pay rise.

The union's negotiating team was disappointed last week at the lack of progress made in mediation and now says industrial action is likely to be necessary to keep current terms and conditions.

TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs said too many tertiary education employers were attempting to take away working conditions that made people's working lives productive and desirable.

"I'm astonished that Auckland University isn't listening when their own staff are saying they will turn down money so that they can do their job the best way they can, and give their students the best education they can."

Member meetings will be held at the University of Auckland in the week beginning 8 February so that the negotiating team can provide a full report back to members.

Meanwhile, general staff at the University of Auckland have voted to ratify their new proposed collective agreement, which offers them a 2 percent pay rise.