WITT members quick to find settlement

Posted By TEU on Dec 11, 2014 |

Tertiary Update Vol 17 No 43

Strong union membership at Taranaki’s WITT helped the polytechnic settle on new working conditions and pay. Within the space of two days last fortnight, union members were able to reach an agreement that includes a pay rise and no cuts to core conditions.

Two weeks ago, WITT was in collective agreement negotiations with its staff who are TEU members. Both sides were concerned that the polytechnic had recently paid back $4.2 million to the Tertiary Education Commission, and, like other regional polytechnics, WITT has also suffered significant government funding cuts in recent years.

The polytechnic and union members entered the negotiations on a Monday, and the two sides were a long way apart in their claims and offers. However, nine out of every ten permanent staff at WITT belong to TEU, and by Tuesday that strong union membership had helped TEU reach a settlement.

The proposed settlement that went to a ratification ballot last week means staff will now get a 1.23 percent pay rise in the first year of the agreement and 1.7 percent in the second year and no cuts to working conditions. TEU members will also get both pay rises four months earlier than their non-union colleagues.

TEU’s national industrial officer Irena Brorens says “After lots of robust and strategic discussions, and with support for our wonderful bargaining team, we were able to get the employer to make an offer we were comfortable with before the members were due to meet on Tuesday night.”

Brorens say being able to tell WITT’s chief executive how many union members there were and how committed they were to defending their employment conditions was essential.

“This is what you get when you have a highly unionised site.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Invest in jobs training to end inequality
  2. Biggest PTE grows bigger
  3. 10 percent fewer tertiary education staff
  4. Australian senate votes down university cuts

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