Hostile ITP MECA employers reject zero percent claim

Posted By TEU on Dec 10, 2009 |

Tertiary Update, Vol 12 No 43

The negotiation team for union members covered by the fraught ITP multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) met with the employers for two further days of mediation this week to try again to settle the agreement which expired almost nine months ago.

Members at the six polytechnics have been taking industrial action to protect their working conditions for several months now, but to no avail.

This week the TEU team amended its position in order to try to find a path to settlement. They offered the employers a rollover until 1 May 2010, with zero percent increases at NorthTec, Whitireia, Wintec and WITT, and a four percent backdated increase at Unitec and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to address the inequity ” of non-members at those two institutions having been given that increase by the employers.

The team also offered to settle either within the current MECA framework or to look at other options such as a smaller MECA or SECAs (single employer collective agreements).

Unbelievably, despite being offered this wide range of concessions, including what is effectively a pay cut for members in four of the institutions, the employers still said” no.

TEU national industrial officer Irena Brorens labelled this “an extremely hostile employer position”.

“It makes a nonsense of one of the key planks of the employers’ argument, which consistently has been that the State Services Commission is demanding zero percent increases unless there are specified productivity gains.”  We have now put to four of these employers a zero percent rollover, with offers of different collective settlements to the current MECA, and they are refusing those offers.”

The employers have agreed to consider further options and respond to the union team by 17 December. However, the bargaining team will be making plans for sustained industrial action for the start of the academic year. Irena Brorens said that she hopes the employers will reconsider their latest position, which is seen as being very antagonistic by their employees.

“The best possible outcome for students, our members, and for these employers is that we can go into 2010 with settled collectives. Otherwise we face further action in the new year, and employment relationships which will take years to heal.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. University of Canterbury’s change process for general staff
  2. Polytechnic librarians face widening pay gap
  3. Two more universities settle collective agreements
  4. Minister celebrates international students increase
  5. China warns students to avoid Aussie PTEs
  6. Postgrad student resigns to protest teaching for free

This is the last edition of Tertiary Update for 2009.”  We will be back in mid-to-late-January next year, with more news from the tertiary education sector written from the perspective of those who work in it.” Thanks to Sharn, Jo, Graeme, Lee, Tom and others who, in a year of recession and cut backs, have consistently made sure that I remember the difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. Thanks also to all our readers for the feedback, story suggestions, and advice. Happy holidays for those who have them.

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email:

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