AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 4 No. 41

Published: Thu 22 Nov 2001 09:11 AM

In our lead story this week…..
Industrial action in support of better pay and conditions is escalating in universities around the country. Staff at Otago University have begun working to rule, in addition to withholding the release of examination results for the second semester. The university's latest offer of a 2% lump sum payment before Christmas and a 2% rise on salary rates from February next year was rejected last week. Under the work to rule, staff are sticking to a strict 37.5 hour week, and taking their lunch, morning and afternoon tea breaks. The action is expected to produce a backlog of report writing and routine administrative work. AUS Otago branch president, Dr Shef Rogers says three AUS members have resigned because they were uncomfortable about marks being withheld, but he also believes AUS had gained 50 new members during the month.
Staff at Victoria, who have also been withholding exam results as part of their industrial campaign, say all grades for this semester will be available to students by 10 December. AUS Victoria is also stressing that while the delays will not cause disruption to graduations, scholarship applications or future enrolments, they will significantly inconvenience university management. Chris Hipkins, Victoria University Students' Association (VUWSA) president, advised students "desperate" for their results to contact VUWSA, saying it will negotiate with AUS on their behalf. "The AUS is very aware that some of this may have an impact on students – they don't want that, they want to put pressure on the management," he told "The Dominion".
Meanwhile, medical and dental staff at Otago have joined their colleagues in rejecting a pay offer of a 2% lump sum payment and a 2% salary rise from February next year. “Tertiary Update” notes with interest that earlier this year, Otago's Vice-Chancellor, Graeme Fogelberg, wrote to Health Minister Annette King, bemoaning the fact that there was a gap of up to $100,000 between academic and hospital salaries [see Tertiary Update, Vol.4 No.8]. Two per cent goes nowhere near closing that gap!
At Massey, Combined Union spokesperson, Peter Blakey says Massey management is under increasing pressure from staff and students to settle the current pay dispute since the decision last week to withhold grades. He says union members have stressed the importance of not disadvantaging individual students and an official exemptions process has been set up to avoid that. He is also appealing to student leaders to acknowledge the important distinction between real long-term "disadvantage" and a short-term "inconvenience". Combined Union representatives are critical of the reaction of some Massey senior managers to the industrial action, saying their attitude is ”less than constructive and fails to appreciate how flexible union members are willing to be with this low-level action".
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Incomes on the rise
2. AUS annual conference
3. University severance call response low
4. SIT proposes zone in face criticism
5. UCOL/Wanganui merger plan still not finalised
6. South Korean academics defy law to unionise
7. Canadian drive for students
Latest statistics show workers' incomes have been rising more quickly this year than last. The National Employers Annual Wage & Salary Survey shows senior managers pay packets rose 4.4% to an average of around $73,000 in the year to July. That compared to a rise of 3.8% for the 1999/2000 financial year. Middle managers' pay rose on average 3.84%, and incomes of "other employees" went up just over 3.57% this year compared to 3.19% the year before. The figures need to be seen in the light of an annual inflation rate of 3.2% for the year to the end of June, and a rate of 2.4% in the year ended September.
AUS Annual Conference, with the theme Invest in All University Staff, will be held in Wellington on December 3 and 4. Guest speakers will include the Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey; the Chair and Deputy chair of the Tertiary Education Commission, Dr Andrew West and Professor Kaye Turner; the Assistant General Secretary of Australia's National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Ted Murphy; and from Fiji, Sevanaia Dukaica, secretary of the University of the South Pacific Staff Association. The conference agenda and conference papers will be made available on the AUS website: over the next few days.
Fewer than 5% of Canterbury university academic staff have volunteered for redundancy as part of the university's programme to slice around $5m from next year's budget. Twenty-six academic staff, representing 4.7% of the total, had applied by the deadline of this week. The interest from general staff was higher, with 131 (15.4%) applications received. AUS Canterbury branch organiser, Marty Braithwaite expressed surprise at the low level of academic interest, saying he had expected up to 40 to apply. "On the one hand, academic staff don't fit easily into other employment in Christchurch and, on the other hand, I was expecting a few more because the sense of disillusionment around the place is so high," he said. The figure for general staff was, he said, up to expectations because so many had "just had a gutsful".
The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is considering setting up an enrolment scheme for its no-fees trade courses at its Christchurch campus. The move follows strong criticism from small regional South Island polytechnics, Aoraki and Te Tai Poutini. They fear they will lose trade course students because of the SIT zero-fees offer, which has been matched by Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. SIT is reported to have sought a legal opinion on whether it can refuse extending the no-fees offer to students who live outside a yet-to-be-defined Canterbury zone.
The Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey, says there is still no business plan for merging Wanganui Polytechnic with UCOL in Palmerston North because it is still being finalised. He was speaking in response to concerns raised by the Friends of Wanganui Polytech group. Members are worried that a merger will go ahead before they have had a chance to respond to a UCOL business plan currently with the minister's office.
Around 1000 South Korean academic staff have defied the law to sign up to join South Korea's first union for college professors. South Korean law prohibits professors and private school teachers from forming unions. The government had warned the organisers that they would face serious legal consequences if they went ahead a formed the union, but to date there has been no official reaction from the Education Ministry. The new union leader, Seoul National University School of Medicine professor, Hwang Sang-ik’s response is: "It does not make sense that the government bans public officials and private-school teachers from forming unions when the Constitution ensures every worker's right to unionise." The new union’s demands include an end to plans to issue annual contracts, and a call for professors to be included on committees studying tertiary education reforms.
Tertiary institutions in Canada have launched a two-year campaign to attract more undergraduate students to arts and science programmes. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has launched a website at and produced a series of sweatshirts bearing appropriate messages in the bid to attract the students. It follows concern among the Association's members, and some business leaders that there is a growing need for generalists in the workforce. *************************************************************************
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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