THE ASSOCIATION of University Staff (AUS) has once again backed down on its goal of a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) for university staff, instead opting for separate salary increase requests.
The requested increases range from 6-7.5% for academic staff and 4-5.5% for general staff across New Zealand universities. AUS Communications Officer Marty Braithwaite says the change in tune stems from the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee’s “vehement rejection” of MECA.
While AUS retains a “philosophical desire” for a MECA, Braithwaite says AUS does not wish to jeopardise their current position to push for one.
The current proposal is a result of negotiations between Vice-Chancellors, unions and the Government that provided an extra $26 million for university salaries. The government has funded a 3% pay increase for academic staff and a 1% increase for general staff with the remainder to be funded by the universities.
Braithwaite says that Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen has made it clear that the funding boost was a first step. While the increase puts academic staff ahead of their colleagues in the UK, Braithwaite says “I think that we have to be in competition with Australia.”
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Co-President Joey Randall says that the pay claims are “significantly justified” within the extra government funding.