Slow start for collective bargaining

It has been a slow start to collective bargaining at New Zealand’s universities this year with only Victoria, Massey and Otago beginning negotiations.

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) bargaining team at Otago will focus on solving the workload issues that members raised repeatedly in surveys and meetings over recent months.

TEU Deputy Secretary Nanette Cormack, who has been travelling the country coordinating much of the bargaining, said that tight financial pressure from government funding cuts had made most universities cautious, particularly around the issue of pay.

“We know that times are tough but universities have continued to make good surpluses and our demands are reasonable and modest. In addition to the concern about erosion of salaries for most union members around the country, the issue of workload and job security is increasingly pressing concerns,” she said.

The Union’s Otago University Organiser Shaun Scott said that the staff at the University faced increasing workloads as pressure for more research students and more compliance reporting from government cut into their time.

“We want manageable workloads for the good of our students. We also want workloads to be fair and manageable so that we can spend time with friends, communities and family,” he said.

Academic staff at the Otago University are claiming that workload be allocated in an open, equitable, transparent and planned way.

This must incorporate a system for allocating teaching workload negotiated collectively with staff and their Head of Department (or equivalent).

Mr Scott called for a transparent system that allowed staff to compare their teaching workload with others in their department and the university.

Such a system should also provide for rectification of any existing inequities, he said.

“TEU members want to discuss a set of principles and processes for dealing with excessive workload in a way that is fair and equal for everyone,” Mr Scott said.

Source: The Tertiary Education Union

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