Stopwork meetings that were to begin today at the six polytechnics covered by the ITP MECA have been postponed. Employment negotiations are now set to resume after the employers table a “comprehensive offer” for TEU members to consider.
Negotiations covering TEU members at Wintec, WITT, Unitec, Whitireia, NorthTec and BoPP have foundered on key claims from the employers that seek to achieve ‘more flexibility’ and ‘greater productivity’. They include a new clause stipulating that academic staff shall work such hours as may be reasonably required of them to professionally fulfill the requirements of the job, greater flexibility in the areas of timetabled teaching and duty hours, and changes to discretionary leave so that it is at the employer’s discretion rather than the employee’s.
Negotiations had come to a halt on 22 June when the TEU bargaining team decided that they had made too little progress. The employers had not made any salary offer and had stated that any offers would need to be linked to productivity gains. TEU informed the employers that it would be arranging a round of stopwork meetings from 23-30 July to report back and to vote on an industrial action ballot.
The employer representatives have made it clear that their chief executives are required to consult with the State Services Commission on any bargaining strategies or proposed settlements. This the first time since the 1990s that the SSC has featured as an important influence in tertiary education bargaining.
TEU advocate Irena Brorens says that the SSC’s involvement appears to be hindering bargaining.
“This approach from the SSC is a result of the current government’s broad approach towards salaries and terms and conditions for publicly funded organisations.”