Govt expectations may have tertiary education institutions on edge

Posted By TEU on Mar 19, 2009 |

Tertiary Update Volume 12, Number 7

The government’s document Expectations for Pay and Employment Conditions in the State Sector seems to be placing pressure on many tertiary-education institutions to depress wages rather than face explaining higher wage bills to the state services commissioner.

The document, which covers all employment negotiations in the state sector, calls for fiscally sustainable outcomes and the avoidance of flow-on implications across the public sector.

There is some ambiguity about the extent to which tertiary-education institutions, which have traditionally stood at arm’s length from the rest of the state sector, are affected by the expectations. Nevertheless, the Tertiary Education Union’s national secretary, Sharn Riggs, says there is increasing anecdotal evidence of concern among tertiary-education workers that institutions may adjust their negotiating position because of the requirement to consult with the commission.

Among the expectations placed upon the state sector are a requirement to consult the commission before implementing conditions that will result in increased costs of employment; another to try to target any recruitment and retention issues that arise without fuelling wage inflation and with regard to potential flow-on implications; and an instruction to avoid backdating terms of settlement.

If an agency wishes to pursue a course of action which could be seen to be at odds with these expectations, it may need approval from its governing ministers of state services and finance.

Ms Riggs says that it is important the CEOs and vice-chancellors continue to bargain in good faith with their employees, despite the restrictions placed on them by the government’s expectations.

“Tertiary education is one area where business is up rather than down. Our members are doing more work and accommodating more students. They won’t look favourably on employment negotiations that roll back pay or conditions because of the economic environment,” Ms Riggs said. “Lower wages will not solve our economic crisis, the solution will come from more skills training and education, which our members can provide and for which they should be fairly rewarded.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Otago Design Institute may not proceed
  2. New employment law recognises right to breastfeed
  3. International students look to NZ as global economy worsens
  4. WITT gets crown observer
  5. Changes to Fijian retirement fund threaten access to education
  6. Iraq to send 10,000 students abroad in effort to rebuild
  7. British VCs and students disagree on funding
  8. Alaskan professor loses $10,000 for oil-industry criticism
  9. £1m doesn’t buy many Caribbeans at Oxbridge

For more tertiary education news

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Sharn Riggs

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