Unitec branch report 2009

2009 has been quite an eventful year for Unitec branch. The TEU database has 317 members listed at Unitec and our email mailing list has 302 names on it so the true number of members must lie somewhere in between; in any case, membership has been maintained quite well and may even have increased”  since 2008.”  This is despite very little recruitment of new staff by Unitec; new employees are frequently on casual or limited tenure contracts, which is an issue for us. At least 40 of our members are casual staff but many have been employed for long periods and are most definitely not truly casual.

In semester 1, we had a publicity day during which posters, balloons and lollipops were distributed.

Three members from this branch participated in branch training in July.”  Also on July 16, this branch hosted a regional gathering at Carringtons, our on-campus bar; members came from most of the other branches in the area, they said they enjoyed it and we decided jointly with AUT to have another gathering on October 23.

Unitec started a major restructuring following the arrival of a new CE in 2008. This year “round 2″ of what is known as the “sustainability project” affected our members even more directly than the”  changes effected by “round 1″, which had involved an almost whole scale departure of the senior management team in 2008 and the hiring of new executive managers, deans etc. These new brooms arrived with a vengeance and the sweeping and scrubbing has been vigorous and just plain scary at times.

There have been two kinds of reviews this year. In semester one, 6 reviews were announced which had been prompted by programmes having apparently been identified as having unacceptably low staff:student”  ratios. TEU has had trouble working through review processes with Unitec in the past and we had hoped that this was behind us after having a better experience with part 1 of sustainability in 2008, from the point of view or communication and co-operation. However, our hopes were not realized in the 2009 reviews; the 6 reviews could best be described as a complete dog’s breakfast. Five of them ended inconclusively with no one having lost their jobs but with our members (and no doubt their non-unionised colleagues) having experienced unnecessary levels of stress and uncertainty. One of them ended in job losses and we have ongoing issues with how this one was conducted.

There were also reviews of programme administration, programme leadership and workload policy. Taken together, these three have a huge impact on our members’ ability to carry out their jobs.”  The branch president (Sarah) wrote to the CE and senior management saying that we were seriously concerned about the effect these were going to have on the institution and on our members'” ”  working conditions and continuing employment.”  Similar concerns have also been expressed by the academic staff rep on Council (Jan). However”  the response has not been to make any changes and our concerns are unalloyed.

Negotiations for the ITP MECA were initiated at the start of the year and moved slowly during semester one. Eventually an employer offer was received which resulted in our participation in industrial action which thus far has included a whole day strike, 2″  one-hour lightening strikes and a “wear red” day.”  At the time of writing, we are back to talking again.

One issue which is major for Unitec members in this dispute is that staff on the IA were given a 4% payrise in January and TIASA members got a similar deal in March.

We also picketed the student graduation day when we were on strike and a Council meeting the following Monday : Unitec CE Rick Ede came out and talked to us, which was interesting. He started out by saying that he couldn’t talk to us because of good faith but Irena popped up and said that she gave him permission to do so. Probably one of of our better moments this year.

We held our AGM on Aug 12. Sarah Hardman was re-elected branch president,”  Nadesa Goundar was re-elected treasurer and Avian McManus, Susan Watene and Peter Thompson were re-elected to our exec. The deputy president and other exec positions remain open.

Liz Nicholson has represented the branch on the Equal Pay committee which is about to complete its report.

Susan Watene attended Te Uepu.

The branch president’s report to the AGM listed the following activities:

  • Endless emails (please read)- keeping members updated.
  • Liaison between members and organizers.
  • Advice to members, based on C/A.
  • Support for members facing disciplinary action.
  • Collating /facilitating response to employer’s organizational change plans.
  • Writing submissions: 8 in first “½ of 2009, have lost track of how many in 2008.
  • Meetings/ discussions with Unitec management – at all levels.
  • Raising issues re CA with management:”  consultation (clause 1.10.a), leave, special sick leave for a pandemic. Etc.
  • Liaison with other on-campus unions.
  • Liaison with national /regional union.
  • Representing issues raised by members to national union e.g. plumbing and the ITO.
  • Participation in wider union movement- CTU /government forums, delegate to CTU womens’ conference.
  • Representing branch at CA negotiations.
  • .5 time allowance in 2009.
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