University of Otago staff braced for job cuts

Posted By TEU on Jul 13, 2017 |

Tomorrow staff at the University of Otago will learn more about how management plans to shake-up the way general staff work at the university.

According to a report in the Otago Daily Times, vice-chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne, has invited all staff to a meeting on Friday where she will reveal the latest on a support services review that has been underway since 2015.

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

University management moved recently to quash rumours that this would result in the loss of more than 300 jobs. Nevertheless, substantial job cuts have not been ruled out.

Professor Hayne would not confirm whether she would tell staff at the meeting precisely how many jobs will be cut. She told the ODT that ”staff will learn details of the business case and be provided with access to a copy after the presentation.”

This means that even after tomorrow’s meeting, many staff could face a long and anxious wait to find out whether they will have a job in a year’s time.

Shaun Scott, organiser of the TEU branch at the University of Otago, said he hoped that management would use the meeting to shed some light on precisely what is on the table, but expected there will still be a high degree of uncertainty for many people.

“Our members expect to receive a lot more information than has previously been forthcoming from the university,” Scott said.

Union representatives have met with management throughout the review. However, until now the detail of review has been seen only by a project steering group.

Scott added: “this lack of transparency is having a huge impact on staff stress levels, with people uncertain as to whether or not they will have a job next year. This sort of uncertainty is causing huge stress for people working at the university, not to mention the impact it is having on people’s families and their ability to plan for the future.”

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, and the impact of any changes on the functioning of the university.

The review is also likely to affect the approximately 140 people on employed on short-term contracts as a result of the Support Services Review.

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