Community Scoop

Te Tari Puna Ora pays for post-grad study

Press Release – NZTEU

Two pay rises over the next two years, one of three percent and one of 2.5 percent will go to TEU members at Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa – NZCA if they vote to accept a recently negotiated settlement. The proposed settlement also offers TEU members … Te Tari Puna Ora pays for post-grad study and matauranga Maori Two pay rises over the next two years, one of three percent and one of 2.5 percent will go to TEU members at Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa – NZCA if they vote to accept a recently negotiated settlement. The proposed settlement also offers TEU members a further two percent on completion of a masters qualification, and three percent on completion of a doctorate. All TEU members will also qualify under the new agreement for five weeks’ annual leave on appointment, rather than having to complete four years’ service before they get five weeks’ annual leave.

TEU advocate Chan Dixon says the negotiations with Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa – NZCA were constructive and the negotiating team is recommending members vote for the proposed settlement.

“We made good progress on the issues members raised. Te Tari Puna Ora was willing to recognise the important education role that all of its teaching staff play, and that Pouako play for both its students and other staff, which meant we could make good progress with the big issues members raised before negotiations.”

The TEU negotiating team made significant efforts improving recognition for Pouako. A completely new clause, entitled ‘Pouako’, will now go into the collective agreement. That clause recognises Pouako specialties by way of a $1500 allowance for their leadership in matauranga Maori me te reo Maori. Pouako will also get an additional three days per year as a separate allowance to attend Pouako hui. The team also achieved an increase to the overnight allowance for noho marae from $50 to $100.

“When many other employers are undermining the professionalism of their staff by cutting working conditions and stifling their pay its good to see an employer working constructively with TEU to promote professionalism,” said Ms Dixon.

Also in Tertiary Update this week: – Treasury ponders private benefits of research

– PEETO members win salaries and increments

– Student fee rises continue unabated

– University of Auckland general staff challenge performance pay

– Plan to lift pay becomes election issue

– Other news

Treasury ponders private benefits of research Treasury is seeking a consultant to explain what is driving New Zealand’s ‘relatively low private returns and low wage premium in tertiary education’ – and whether this lack of private financial benefit is a problem.

Statistics New Zealand has noted that students who left tertiary education with level 5 to 7 certificates or diplomas earned 16 percent more than high school leavers did. Meanwhile leavers with level 4 certificates earned only four percent more.

However, TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs says it is important that Treasury recognise that the question is it raises is mostly one about New Zealand’s low wage economy.

“A comparatively high proportion New Zealand’s population have tertiary education qualifications compared to other OECD countries,” says Ms Riggs. But many of them are sub-degree level qualifications, and employers in New Zealand simply are not paying enough for the quality of teaching and learning that goes into those qualifications.

“What we do not want to see is Treasury blaming employers’ unwillingness to pay for people’s qualifications as a reflection on the quality of those qualifications or the people teaching them,” said Ms Riggs.

“Most countries that have low levels of private return on tertiary education tended to be with high levels of economic equality, such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway, so a low level of private benefit from tertiary education should not necessarily be a bad thing, because there are also massive public benefits from tertiary education. However, unlike those countries, it is not high overall wages and salaries that are driving a low level of private return on tertiary education, but low overall wages.”

“The solution lies with employers and politicians, not teachers,” said Ms Riggs.

PEETO members win salaries and increments TEU members at PEETO, the multicultural learning college and Asia Pacific language centre, are voting on a new collective agreement that will translate their current earnings into salaries with a four-step salary scale with automatic increments.

The two-year agreement also offers union members a 36 hour a week cap on working hours, a special responsibility allowance for undertaking other special responsibilities and a $500 lump sum payment immediately after ratification.

The benefits of the collective agreement that TEU members negotiated will not be passed on to non-union members until six months after members ratify the agreement.

TEU advocate Phil Dodds says the agreement is a significant improvement on the current agreement and the negotiating team is recommending members vote for it.

“This is good settlement for the members at PEETO and shows the benefits for those working in PTEs of belonging to a union and working together for fair pay and recognition,” said Mr Dodds.

Student fee rises continue unabated Councils for many tertiary institutions are again debating fee rises for their students. With continued government cuts to funding and high inflation this year, many are opting to increase fees by the maximum allowable four percent.

At the University of Auckland this provoked the protest de jour of the month – an occupation. At Lincoln University the council is seeking an exemption so it can increase the fee to eight percent for its animal science and agriculture courses. Accompanying fee rises at Lincoln are an undisclosed projected deficit and a fall in student numbers.

Rachel Boyack, the students’ association president at NMIT, would like to see more transparency across the sector when setting fees.

“It does appear that the four percent policy is now being treated as ‘business as usual’, where all programmes at all institutions are having a four percent increase applied without a deep analysis of the cost of each programme.”

“There is no doubt that high fees limit access, even if there is a student loan to pay the initial cost.”

Ms Boyack says the combination of requirements on institutions to deliver a minimum three percent return, combined with the four percent fee increase allowable, cuts to funding and a tertiary education strategy that suggests ‘flexibility’ around fees “all leads to students as the easy option for making up for shortfalls in revenue”.

TEU’s policy on fees is that institutions and the government need to ensure that tertiary education is accessible, affordable, and supportive: “That means lower fees, more investment in our public tertiary education institutions, transparent, equitable admission and selection criteria and processes, and supportive grants that help families to get by while individuals take the opportunity to study.”

University of Auckland general staff challenge performance pay General staff members at the University of Auckland from both TEU and the PSA are currently voting on industrial action and are holding stop-work meetings after the university intransigently proposed to put them on a new performance pay model. Union members will meet next week to discuss bargaining and a campaign of action. They are seeking a reasonable pay increase effective February 2012, including a set percentage salary increase and commitment from the university to work together with general staff to develop a new remuneration model based on the agreed principles of fairness, transparency and objectivity.

The university has rejected these claims in negotiations and instead made a nil pay offer (maintaining they have insufficient information on the university’s financial situation) and a proposal to use currently non-existent ‘relevant’ policy to review salaries.

TEU organiser Jane Kostanich says the university consistently refuses to reach an agreement on already reduced union claims and is intransigent in negotiations.

“We have proposed that any future meetings between the parties should be with mediation assistance. A campaign is now essential to shift the employer position.”

“Performance-based pay is widely recognised by most independent researchers to be a failed management technique that does nothing to improve performance. It is notable mostly for driving down salaries and creating unhappy, unproductive workplaces,” said Ms Kostanich.

Plan to lift pay becomes election issue CTU president Helen Kelly called the Labour Party’s just-announced wages policy a realistic plan for a fairer system to lift workers’ wages and combat inequality. The policy has also been endorsed by the Green and Mana parties.

Ms Kelly said “the policy meets New Zealand’s obligations to the International Labour Organisation. Around the world, the reduction of the right to collective bargaining is directly correlated with the growing gap between rich and poor and the decline in living standards for working people.”

“The policy announced today will give workers the genuine choice of being covered by a collective agreement which will directly relate to the standard terms and conditions already established in the industry and employers within an industry that use exploitative terms and conditions to compete with good employers, will no longer be able to do that,”said Ms Kelly.

TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs said the concept that every industry and sector has a set of minimum working conditions and basic working rights is “simple fairness” and will, at long last mean bad employers are not rewarded at the expense of good employers.

“It would have a positive impact in the tertiary education sector” Ms Riggs said.

Labour Party Leader Mr Goff said the current system is not working:

“The super wealthy have increased their wealth by $7 billion and top chief executives received pay rises well above inflation,” he said.

“But the vast majority of Kiwis were worse off than they were three years ago, with Statistics New Zealand indicating last week that inflation rose 9 per cent and incomes rose only 2.5 per cent in that period.”

Other news According to research by University of Waikato student Alison Thirlwall, who graduates this week with a doctorate on workplace bullying in polytechnics and institutes of technology, bullying is usually the by-product of an already troubled workplace and by avoiding responsibility, workplaces contribute to the problem – University of Waikato

Documents relating to a controversial trade deal that spans the Pacific, including New Zealand, will be kept secret for four years after it is signed. An Auckland University law professor and staunch opponent of the talks Jane Kelsey says the secrecy is extreme even by the standards of recent negotiations – Radio NZ

The Occupy Wall Street movement has an academic heritage that spans political science, economics, and literature, but its organising principles owe a debt to an ethnography of Madagascar – Chronicle of Higher Education

So is the problem for Aoraki to do with courses that don’t easily fit into tick boxes, or is it to do with their confusion over where creativity sits in their curriculum? …Aoraki’s end decision about course-cutting will reveal much about its philosophy of education and its vision, or lack of it, for the future – Jenny Powell in the Otago Daily Times


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