The importance of local wage negotiations
For some employees, this might be the very first chance of participating in local wage negotiations. You have nothing to lose by doing so, and everything to win.
Leader of DION Gabriela Kazimiera Warden and Temporary employees’ representative in the board of NTNU Nicolai Winter-Hjelm want you to know your rights for wage negotiations.
Foto: Marthe Kristine Nes Bjerva
The deadline for sending in wage requirements at NTNU for this year's local wage
negotiations is approaching. These days, thousands of employees at the university receive
forms from their labor unions to fill in. For some employees, this might be the very first chance of participating in local
wage negotiations. Others might not be aware of their rights to do so. Let’s therefore start off
this opinion by assuring you: You have nothing to lose by filling in this form, and
everything to win.
Temporary employee: Know your rights for wage negotiations
In the local negotiations, the labor unions and management negotiate individual salary
increases based on the claims from the individual employees and the priorities of the
management. As a temporary research fellow, you are fully entitled to participate in these
negotiations on equal ground as permanent employees, by sending in your personal
requirement. Make sure to highlight what you have achieved during your time at the
institution, whether that is extra teaching duties, your publishing record or conference
contributions. While a clear presentation of merits can benefit your cause, sending in a form
with few or no merits is better than not participating at all. This helps the labor unions speak
your cause, and the university management to understand your situation.
In case you believe the effort is not worth it; think again. Historically, the starting salary for
temporary employees has been very low, particularly for PhD research fellows. This is not
only a loss for the individual researcher, but also for academia. Without competitive salaries,
the brightest minds are lost to industry which traditionally pays higher salaries for highly
educated people. In recent years, there have however been several big leaps in the salaries for
this employee group. This can primarily be attributed to the work conducted by dedicated
representatives from labor unions together with the university management in the central and
local wage negotiations. Just this spring, the minimum salary for new PhD research fellows
was raised to 532 200, 15 salary steps, or almost a hundred thousand kroner, higher than it
was only six years ago. Furthermore, PhD research fellows get an automatic yearly increase
of 3% regardless of the central or local negotiations. Speaking up and claiming your rights
does make a difference, and you are not alone in the process. Doing so, you not only help
yourself in the long run, but also your colleagues and future PhD students.
We would also like to emphasize the right to renegotiate your salary during the first twelve
months as a PhD research fellow. Commonly, PhD research fellows are offered a salary
equaling the minimum allowed salary set through the collective agreements (tariffavtaler)
between academic unions and state authorities. There are however no regulations saying that
the salary cannot be higher than this, but it is up to you to argue why you deserve a higher
salary. Therefore, temporary employee: know your rights for wage negotiations and use them.
If after reading this opinion piece, you are still in doubt whether you should take part in the
local wage negotiations, you can get more practical information on NTNUs website about wage negotiations. We hope you use your opportunity
to negotiate your salary.