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Sunshine, Lollipops and Pay Rises for Staff

Matt Jones



Both Universities and unions are happy with pay rises of between 6% and 7.5% for general staff and 4% and 5.5% for general university staff in the newest pay agreements that will expire mid-2007. The pay increases are the result of a $26 million cash injection from the government after tripartite negotiations between vice-chancellors, the government and unions.
Association of University Staff (AUS) Communications Officer Marty Braithwaite says the union is happy with the pay increase. However, he is ambivalent over their inability to gain a 10% increase for academic staff and 6% rise for general staff that Salient understands they were looking for. “There’s an expectation that these things are negotiable.”
Both unions and vice-chancellors agree that this pay rise is a first step towards a higher pay deal. Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp says that this is a “first step” but “it isn’t the end of the road.”
Braithwaite says that the overall goal is a salary increase of 30% for academic staff. Both Sharp and Braithwaite are confident from Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen’s statements that there will be another boost in government funding next year. Braithwaite says that AUS’s goals for salary increases are very clear, and if the government is to renege, industrial action may have to be taken. Sharp will not say whether priority will be given next year to staff salary rises from a government cash injection. He says that there is a mismatch in university international competitiveness in other areas. Money also needs to be spent on libraries, equipment and buildings.
The unions failed to gain a Multi- Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) due to reluctance from vice-chancellors. Sharp remains opposed to the idea saying that: “negotiations are better if they are with each individual employer.” Braithwaite says that AUS remain, “philosophically wedded to the concept” and at some point there will have to be some “hard negotiations” over the issue, and he would prefer them “sooner rather than later.”
AUS and university vice-chancellors believe that academic staff are highly mobile, especially in the face of higher salaries in Australia. Before the salary increase, average New Zealand academic salaries ranged from US$38,300 for lecturers and assistant professors to a minimum US$66,100 for professors. Comparing to US$51,900 and US$89,700 respectively in Australia.