After months of negotiations and several days of industrial action, TEU members at Manukau Institute of Technology are voting on a proposed collective employment agreement. The proposed settlement includes a 2.6 percent increase to salaries effective from 1 March this year, no cuts to existing conditions, an investigation into workload to be completed during the term of the agreement, and an assurance that the agreed terms and conditions will not be passed on to staff on individual contracts until three months after members on the collective agreement (i.e. from 1 June 2009).
The ballot for TEU members at MIT closes on Wednesday 29 July.
TEU advocate Chan Dixon says the workload investigation is an important achievement for the members. It will look at issues of equality of workload, how to define a reasonable quantum of workload, and transparency of how workload is allocated.
“It’s important we focus on excellence of teaching and learning as well as valuing research performance. Too much workload undermines all these things,” says Ms Dixon.
Despite the initial acrimony that marked negotiations at MIT, this agreement looks like it may be the first settlement reached in the tertiary education sector since the State Services Commission became involved in the bargaining process.
TEU national industrial officer Irena Brorens says that bargaining teams remain committed to resisting claw-backs of established employment conditions, and this stands in contradiction to the direction the SSC seems to be advocating to employers.
“Since the SSC started overseeing and advising on negotiations earlier this year, many employers seem unable to commit to fair pay increases, even where they know they are affordable and warranted. Generally they are also using the mantra of ‘increased productivity’ to try to remove important nationally-agreed working conditions. But how do you increase productivity when there is a cap on new students and your working conditions are being cut?” asked Ms Brorens.