Casual jobs mean lower pay, less security

Posted By TEU on Feb 23, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 4

Brett Alcock says his previous job at a privately owned tertiary institution was a string of short-term contracts.

“Many teachers, including myself when I was there, have their contracts rolled over. But the fact that they are not on permanent contracts creates a pervasive sense of insecurity as the contract renewal is often, as was my case after 10 years, used to ‘bump’ people out of jobs with minimal notice. When this happened to me I was immediately excluded from my computer files and from the campus.”

Mr Alcock now has a permanent job at Massey University but many of his colleagues there are on short-term contracts.

In response to last week’s story on the rise of short-term contract work in Australia a range of tertiary education workers contacted Tertiary Update about the situation in New Zealand, most of whom who wanted to remain anonymous. One former senior tutor had a full-time contract come to an end and then spent the next 18 months working part-time as a casual tutor. She was being contracted paper by paper, teaching the same number of papers at the same university she had previously worked for, but for about a third of the pay and, with no guarantee of on-going employment.

Another told us, in her team of six tutors and senior tutors, there is only a permanent contract for one paper for two teaching semesters; the equivalent of 0.3 FTEs. Currently she is still waiting on two temporary contracts for this semester and will be teaching across three different departments with no hours allocated to become familiar with the course material. Over the last summer, she marked assignments for a paper in yet another department.

TEU national president Sandra Grey says there is increasing evidence that tertiary institutions are excessive in their use of casual labour.

“It’s not only bad for employees, it’s bad for a stable learning environment where staff can plan and develop their courses, keep up-to-date with research, and invest time in the pastoral care of students. There are consequences to the quality of education when employers opt for cheap labour over secure, on-going jobs.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Joyce wants new governance for institutions
  2. Global student numbers to double by 2025
  3. Christchurch mergers
  4. PPTA warns about TPPA
  5. Kiwis warn Australia of tertiary education managerialism

Other news

Tertiary education is not just about science and economic development says TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs. Ms Riggs’ comments follow news that Steven Joyce, the minister of science, tertiary education and economic development agencies is considering restructuring all three agencies at the same time – TEU media release

Even our cash-strapped universities appear happy to play the game. At the University of Auckland, Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon was paid $640,000 last year – up 75% on the $360,000 John Hood was reported to have received 10 years earlier. Meanwhile, Auckland’s teaching staff – who are also vital to the competitiveness and quality of any university – received an average pay increase of 47% over the same period – The Listener

The number of academic staff at public tertiary education institutions continued to decrease from 2009 to 2010, reflecting restructuring in some institutions. The non-academic staff also continued to increase, a pattern that started in 2007 – Ministry of Education

Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Whitireia NZ  announced the formation of a single, combined academic board and the appointment of Dr Peter Coolbear as the inaugural chair – Whitireia NZ

Five schools for international and local students are in trouble with authorities for a range of alleged offences, including immigration breaches, student cheating and reporting dubious qualifications – New Zealand Herald

Overseas non-governmental organisations have been raising the alarm over worker exploitation in factories in China that produce the Apple iPad and other consumer electronic products. A new report by a Hong Kong-based labour organisation has found that many of the exploited are students working as interns as a compulsory part of vocational courses –University World News


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