TEU Victoria University Branch Newsletter – September 2014
- AGM-a-calling: Welcome from the Branch President
- Ask them Anything: TEU Presidential Election
- Election Special: Union members could make the difference
- Election Special: 3 Reasons to Vote
- Bringing Back Dignity: Sandra Grey speaks to staff, students
- Vic knocks back Living Wage, but it’s not out
- ‘We are students, not customers’: Students subvert with soup
- Dates for the Diary
AGM-a-Calling: Welcome from the Branch President
Hello my fellow members! With our AGM tomorrow I’ve been thinking about what AGM’s are all about. An AGM is the meeting where we, the members, get to decide who will make up the branch leadership for the coming year, and of course the people who will represent us at the national conference. More than this, we get to set the direction for our branch for the next twelve months.
For the first time last year we had a full complement of representatives to conferences from our branch. It made a big difference to getting our remits through. I believe the change we made on we use the recruiting fund has helped us, and a lot of other branches, with recruiting.
A strong union needs passionate, active leaders at every level. I encourage you to get involved and stand for something. If you would like to nominate someone or put yourself forward for a role, you’ll need a seconder. Both of you will need to come to AGM and be prepared to speak on the nomination.
Have a think about what you as a branch member would like to see from the union in the next year, and what we as a branch would like national support for. It’s okay to want to see some changes –this is our union!
Ofcourse, this is a big year for many of us with bargaining. We’ll hear from our organiser and national officers about what this round means for us, and how it’s going in negotiations.
Be sure to come along tomorrow, even just to listen. Remember, this is your union.
VUW TEU Branch President
Ask them Anything: TEU Presidential Election
Members will have two familiar faces to choose between when electronic ballots are sent out in a fortnight’s time. Incumbent president/ Te Tumu Whakarae Lesley Francey was a Senior Lecturer in English at the Manukau Institute of Technology before winning an election for the top job in 2012. In that election, Francey trumped Richard Draper, a senior lecturer from Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology 1310 votes to 882.
However, her reelection could be a more difficult affair, with former TEU president and Victoria social policy lecturer Sandra Grey putting her own hat in the ring for a second round after returning to academia in 2012.
In their candidate statements, available online, both candidates say the sector is at crisis point, and the TEU must provide strong leadership in communicating the struggles of the sector the public and the politicians. Francey, who was elected on a platform of opposing casualisation and restructuring, says her work is not yet done and another term would allow to her bring those issues forward. Grey takes a slightly more systemic view, arguing that the stories she hears of “over-worked staff and under-funded research, students missing out on learning; of workshops packed to the rafters and under-resourced libraries” should drive the union to challenge the political fundamentals driving the kind of institutions we are becoming.
Members are encouraged to ask their own questions of the would-be presidents. You can ask yours at the blogsites below:
An election will take place between Mon 15 Sept and Fri 26 Sept. For most TEU members this will be an electronic ballot. Eligible members will be emailed a unique username and password that allows them to vote anonymously. Those without access to email will receive a paper ballot.
With the election fast approaching, all eyes are on the 1 to 2 percent of New Zealanders who could decide which parties form a government for the next three years. Right and left-wing blocks are on a ‘knife-edge’ according to 3News political editor Patrick Gower’s analysis of the political polls.
Union members, who total over 350,000 nationally, made up just over 10 percent of eligible voters at the last election.
To combat voter apathy the TEU and the Council of Trade Unions have rolled out a sophisticated campaign to encourage union members like you to cast your ballot between September 3-20th.
The campaign includes contacting many of the 350,000 union members and asking them to make a plan with them and their family about when and where to vote. While you may vote every election, does your son or daughter? Does your grandchild? Do your students? Do your colleagues?
Branch president Frances Matheson says members should consider the important issues when casting their votes this election.
“I hope all our members take the time to think about what kind of university they want to work in, what kind of society they want to live in, what kind of rights at work they think they deserve – and cast their ballots accordingly. With our wages, jobs and tea brakes on the line –I hope they think about it.”
“Added to this we should be encouraging students to vote. You could put up a ‘get out and vote’ poster on a noticeboard, or write a message on whiteboards and blackboards encouraging them to get involved!”
“If you can, ask the class to join you after the lecture to join you in voting. The research shows the more social the early voting experiences, the more likely they’ll be voters for life.”
Making a plan to vote has never been easier for staff at Victoria. The electoral commission will be holding early voting on Kelburn campus from Monday 8th of September until Friday 19th in the Hub. Simply turn up from 11am-3pm with a form of ID.
If you’re at Pipitea, the Electoral Commission has you covered, too. Early voting will be available every day from this Wednesday 3rd September in the Asteron Centre Foyer 11am-2pm, with extended hours either side some days. Check for details here.
Election Special: 3 Reasons to Vote
With the media’s focus on Dirty Politics lately you might’ve forgotten the issues at stake in this election for staff in the tertiary education sector. TEU National Office has produced this handy guide to see where the parties stand on our tea brakes, staff voices on university councils and paid parental leave:
Sandra Grey addresses staff and students at the VUWSA-HumanFM Living Wage event in the Hub in August
Bringing Back Dignity: Sandra Grey speaks to staff, students
Recently TEU national vice-president and Victoria social policy senior lecturer Sandra Grey addressed a packed Hub at Kelburn as part of a panel discussing the Living Wage.
Grey joined VUWSA vice-president Rick Zwaan, Anglican priest Brian Davis and Morris Altman Professor of Behavioural Economics in the joint VUWSA-HumanFM event last month.
Grey spoke about the formula used to devise the Living Wage and how it defined social inclusion.
“Put up your hands,” she said, “if you went to the movies every now and then with your friends or your family”. Almost everyone in the audience raised their hand. “Now imagine if you never could. That’s the life those below the living wage are leading. Never going to the movies, or on family holidays..”
What was needed, said Grey, was a return to the principles of the 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security, which was explicit in trying to build a socially inclusive society.
“Time for a fair society; a cohesive society; a place where people live in dignity. Time to return to a world in which our politicians, businesses, and all taxpayers realise that we share a responsibility to ensure that everyone is ‘able to enjoy a standard of living much like that of the rest of the community and thus is able to feel a sense of participation and belonging to the community’”
Grey said adequate student support was also fundamental to that ‘cohesive society’. She said “We also need to think about the inequalities we are creating and perpetuating by making life-long learning harder and harder to access.”
“The cost of tertiary education and the inadequate support shown to students, and sometimes the complete lack of support, must, must be addressed.”
Altman answered some quick questions from students about the cost and feasibility of the Living Wage and the economic repercussions of raising wages. The inflationary impact, he said, would be extant but minor, while the productivity gains could be significant for New Zealand’s economy.
The best line of the day went to Brian Dawson who said “Nowhere in the bible does it say ‘it will trickle down’”, pointing instead to biblical tracts advocating empathy, social justice and fairness.
Stop work meetings lay down the law on fairness and transparency
TEU members attended stop work meetings across Victoria’s four campuses earlier last month, raising issues of pay disparities and getting the latest news on bargaining with management.
In the meetings members said the GSSR created a lack of respect for general staff and that the line between general staff and academics was often blurry and the dual pay systems between the two had created inequitable disparities.
Members also offered up what they thought the union should be advocating for in the latest round of negotiations with management.
One of the strongest messages from members at the meetings was concern for lowest paid staff at Victoria, many of whom are cleaners, librarians and other contract staff. Members considered what action could be taken to inform the new VC about what kind of university community we are –that we value fairness, equity and inclusion.
Members concluded management’s position on refusing the Living Wage for Victoria’s lowest paid was unacceptable and that the branch would continue work to make the multi-million dollar institution a Living Wage employer.
Added to this staff were determined that the provisions around academic promotions and staff disciplinary procedures should remain in the collectives, not be put into policy that could be changed at the management’s whim. Transparency is another value members of the TEU want to see at the heart of Victoria’s decision-making.
To get the message to the Vice-Chancellor TEU members will hold public meetings next Monday and Tuesday across campuses. Invites will be sent out later this week but keep morning and afternoon tea times free!
Student activism could be on the return after a ‘Reclaim the Hub’ event held by a new group on campus with a similar name – Reclaim Vic. The small but growing group says it advocates for a return to a university that operates for staff and students.
Sandra Grey, current TEU national vice-president and chair of the Industrial Professional national committee, attended the event on behalf of the union.
During the group’s action free soup was served –in violation of the university’s ban on hot food in the Hub that poses a commercial threat to the businesses that pay rent to occupy space in the hub. The students’ association has panned the ban, which has blocked disability advocacy group CanDo from serving their own soup inside in the past during disability awareness week, since the construction of the $14.7 million Hub. The ban continues regardless, serving as a symbol of a university with its priorities wrong, said a group spokesperson.
Grey spoke alongside national student president Daniel Haines to the 40-or-so students, saying that their activism was important in changing the environment that led to commercialised universities, and that there was hope yet.
The group produced a ‘zine’ lamenting the decline in free public tertiary education and promising greater action in the future to ensure Victoria does all it can to resist commercialisation and cuts that would hurt staff or students.
Management knocks back Living Wage, has millions more for SMT
You could be forgiven for thinking that the recent announcement from management, that the Living Wage would not be considered in the 2014 TEU bargaining, has killed the popular but stunted proposal.
Not if Annie Newman and the Living Wage Campaign have anything to do with it. They say you can bet that this is just the beginning.
The national convener of the campaign, Newman, was in Wellington last Friday to train a group of academics, students, cleaners, priests and general staff on strategies to win the $18.80 pay rate touted by the campaign as necessary for a socially inclusive, quality life. The rate includes the basics, such as money for rent, power and food, plus a family holiday every couple of years.
Dayna Kosega, who is working on the campaign to make Victoria a living wage employer, says the university is an obvious target to begin lifting all workers onto a rate they can live on.
“Victoria is a major employer in Wellington. Along with the Wellington City Council and central government, it has real potential to set an example as a quality, fair-paying workplace.”
“We can’t let this become an ivory tower on the hill where the cleaner’s kid can’t make it here. Vic, and our staff, are better than that. We’re a collegial, inclusive community”
“Very few Victoria employees are below the living wage. Mostly cleaners and some librarians. It won’t cost the earth.”
Victoria management’s refusal to include the Living Wage comes just as it sets about a highly controversial restructuring of the senior management team (SMT). The changes include the new positions of Provost under the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor Engagement. It is understood that the new positions are new spend and will not come from savings in SMT. Their cost is said to be in the millions of dollars per year.
In refusing to introduce the Living Wage, management had said they did not want to ‘outsource’ their pay setting to a third party. Living Wage Aotearoa, which includes on its board economists and researchers, adjusts the rate annually as prices rise.
“By saying they don’t want pay rates adjusted as prices rise, it shows at this stage they don’t understand that the Living Wage is set at a rate required to participate fully in society. If the cost of rent, power, transport, sports shoes for the kids goes up –surely our pay should too? Otherwise these low paid workers will start to slide backwards.”
The growing coalition supporting the campaign is asking members to get involved and let their own managers know they support a Living Wage for all staff at Vic.
Dates for the Diary
AGM Midday Tomorrow
All members are strongly encouraged to attend tomorrow’s AGM:
Tuesday 2nd September – 12.00pm on Level 2 of the Student Union Building rooms SU217/218
Early voting on campus from next week
The Electoral Commission will be holding early voting on Kelburn campus from Monday 8th September until Friday 19th September between 11am and 3pm, and at the Asteron Centre Foyer for Pipitea staff.
Early voting is the easiest way you can make sure your vote counts. It will also be available at the Wellington Central Library, and in suburban community centres and schools. Click here for more information about the early voting options most convenient for you and your family.
Monday 8th September until Friday 19th September – 11am-3pm at the Hub, Asteron Centre
TEU Elections: Nominations open now!
Nominations are open now for our Vice-President and National Council and committee positions. Click here for more info about the positions available, what they involve and how you can put your hand up in this year’s TEU Elections. A strong union needs active, passionate leaders. You could be one of them!
Get in quick, nominations close in early September.
Suffrage Day Breakfast
An event not to be missed! The annual Suffrage Day Breakfast is always a great time with scrummy food and great guests. This year, the Vic TEU branch will be hosting young women fired up about the election and they’ll tell us why we should care about voting.
Friday 19th September – 7.30am at Milk and Honey. Mark this in your diary!
Staff Forums this week
The VC has invited all staff to attend one of the management’s four staff forums –an opportunity to share your thoughts on the draft 2015-2019 Stategic Plan. This document sets the vision for Vic and will have huge impact on the direction of our whole university community. Make sure you have your say, and speak up for a university that priorities staff and students.
Dates, times and locations below:
Blue Breakfast for Prostate Cancer
“Following the huge success of last year’s Blue Breakfast, we have decided to once again do our bit to ‘get blue’ this September and help raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.
Last year 70 staff attended and raised over $1300, with our own lads and ladies in blue from Campus Care going the extra mile with donations from their own shave campaign. It would be great to get even more staff along this year to support this fantastic cause.
The Blue September campaign is aimed at raising prostate cancer awareness and encouraging men to look after their health. To do our part we will be holding a Blue Breakfast on Friday 26 September at 10am in the Memorial Theatre Foyer.
Please RSVP by Tuesday 23 September as spaces are limited. The breakfast will cost $10 per person (paid on the day), with $6 of this going directly to the charity. Catering and refreshments will be provided by Sarah Searancke Catering and Vic Venues. Bring some coins as there will also be merchandise for sale and a raffle on the day.”
Talanoa for Pasifika members
Friday 10th October – All Day, in the Student Union Building – SU217
Regular branch meeting with a further update on bargaining and Living Wage news.
30th October. Further details to be announced.
TEU National Conference 2014
Monday-Tuesday 10th-11th November 2014 in Wellington. Please email Frances.Matheson@vuw.ac.nz if you are interested in attending.