With just days remaining until he finishes his job as pouhere (chief executive) of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Bentham Ohia has finally agreed to meet with TEU representatives.
Early in February, collective agreement negotiations had stalled on a pay offer from the wānanga of just 0.5 percent. Based on preliminary figures, last year the wānanga made a surplus of $7.7 million. That is a net surplus ratio of 5 percent – the maximum that a tertiary provider should return based on the Tertiary Education Commission’s guidelines.
TEU members wrote to the wānanga’s human resources manager asking to meet with the pouhere to discuss both this pay offer and the wānanga’s propensity for offering different terms and conditions to employees depending on which union they chose to belong to – TEU or TUIA.
Initially a meeting was arranged for March, then cancelled while Bentham Ohia travelled overseas. TEU’s negotiation team contacted the wānanga’s human resources manager in March, April and May by email and phone trying to arrange an alternative date.
TEU advocate Dean Scott said it is unfortunate that Bentham Ohia’s departure is unfortunate and his contribution, commitment, and legacy is exemplary and commendable. However, after four months, it was frustrating that wānanga management had not been willing to put aside even an hour to meet with the representatives of 112 staff to resolve the outstanding issues in employment negotiations.
Following a further letter in last week, the pouhere has agreed to meet TEU’s team before he departs. The members hope the meeting will ‘facilitate and expedite’ the stalled negotiations.