Union members and students at the University of Otago have taken a stand in support of general staff at risk of losing their jobs under plans announced last week by the Vice-Chancellor.
Tuesday’s action was the beginning of a campaign calling on Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne to abolish plans to cut 182 full-time equivalent jobs from some of the university’s most vital support services.
Close to one hundred people came together on Tuesday to highlight the contribution support staff make to the success of the university.
Staff gathered outside the university’s clock tower, where participants used chalk outlines of dead bodies to highlight the human cost of Hayne’s proposals.
The plans are part of a massive shake-up in the way support services are delivered at the university.
With the amount of part-time staff working at the university and job sharing, the number of people expected to lose their job is likely to be significantly higher than the 182 the university has stated.
Shaun Scott, organiser of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) branch at the university, told the Otago Daily Times that staff morale and stress levels were the worst he had seen in 17 years.
“Staff are extremely worried about losing their jobs and the impact this could have on teaching and research at the university. Changes are not expected to be completed until the middle of next year, so there are some people that face a long and anxious wait to find out if they will still have a job. Tuesday’s action was just one part of the huge amount of work we are doing with union members to voice our concerns at what the VC is proposing.” Scott said.
Hayne intends to cut services such as student advice and support from individual departments and replace them with more standardised services.