The University of Auckland plans to outsource its mediation service and make its mediation team redundant.
The university argues it has a conflict of interest because it employs its own mediator to mediate between university management and staff. Therefore, it intends to contract out the role out to independent contractors.
TEU organiser Enzo Giordani says the university’s logic is flawed because independent contractors will be even more financially reliant on the university for regular contracts.
“The current university mediation service saves the university and staff a lot of money because it solves a lot of problems before lawyers get involved and litigation ensues,” said Mr Giordani. “The university’s new system will leave mediation at the discretion of Human Resources, and its willingness to contract in external mediators. That could increase distrust and make the whole process of mediation more drawn out costly and unpleasant for anyone involved.”
The university has given staff until 3 December to make any submissions on its proposal. TEU will make a submission arguing that the university should at least retain the current internal mediation service if not expand it.
TEU branch co-president Roland Brownlee says the service is an important “fence at the top of the cliff”.
“For TEU members, access to confidential, independent advice can lead more often to successful informal resolution of workplace issues than can escalation to formal processes and personal grievances.”