Staff cuts on the horizon at University of Otago

Posted By TEU on Apr 20, 2017 | 1 comment

University of Otago management could be about to propose a major shake-up of the way general staff work at the university, once the results of a support services review currently underway are known.

It is widely expected that the review, which started in 2015, will recommend services are shared across the whole institution rather than replicated in separate departments.

The job losses that are likely to result follow cuts made to the humanities last year, with more expected in human nutrition and the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences later this year.

University management has quashed rumours that 300 staff are at risk of losing their jobs, but have not ruled out making substantial cuts, having previously said losses are likely.

“We know that the employer has said that there will be job cuts as a result of this, but we don’t know how many,” Shaun Scott, organiser of the TEU branch at the University of Otago, told the Otago Daily Times.

Union representatives have met with management throughout the review, but there is concern staff are being kept in the dark about precisely what is on the table.

The detail of review has been seen only by a project steering group, with staff themselves expecting they will have to wait until a final report has been prepared and recommendations made before seeing any detailed information. With the outcome of the review not expected until March next year, this means an anxious wait for many.

Worrying about whether they will have a job in a year’s time and not knowing how their fates will be decided is having an undue impact on staff morale, leading to increased stress.

“Stress levels are the highest I’ve ever seen them at the university. It would be fair to say that staff, even after recent consultation forums remain really concerned and anxious,” Scott said.

In addition to likely job losses, there is concern among TEU members that they will be asked by management to take on new roles that are not as rewarding or meaningful as the ones they have now.

Approximately 140 people in insecure work at the university, including on short-term contracts, are also in the dark about their future, with their positions remaining uncertain until the review’s outcome is known.

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