The University of Auckland has hired over one hundred academics in the past few months under lesser terms and conditions than their colleagues doing the same work. This new casualised category of staff, Professional Teaching Fellows (PTFs), are mostly on fixed-term agreements and do not progress incrementally in salary like other academics. The new PTF category effectively replaces the Senior Tutor position.
“Academics are increasingly losing their job security,” says Dr Joce Jesson, Principal Lecturer at the university’s School of Critical Studies in Education and member of the Tertiary Education Union. “It is unfair for the university to employ people doing the same work on different conditions,” Dr Jesson adds.
TEU members have been negotiating for two months for PTFs to have the same employment rights and conditions as other academic staff.
So far the university has refused.
Other issues union members want addressed through the bargaining include parity with other universities in regards to annual leave and some incremental salary steps for non-academic staff.
“We are a leading university but in terms of some significant working conditions of staff we lag behind other universities in New Zealand,” says Dr Paul Taillon, Senior Lecturer in History at university.
“After nine meetings with our employer we are no further ahead in our negotiations than we were on day one,” says Cerian Wagstaff, co-president of the University of Auckland branch of TEU, “the university has basically refused every one of our claims, even those that don’t cost any money.”
“All the other universities have settled, or are close to settling, their collective agreements on reasonable terms in an atmosphere of collegiality. It is clear that those employers see the value of engaging in meaningful negotiations with unions representing their employees,” says Dr Taillon.