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.

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.