Louise Simpson, Wintec branch president and Beauty Therapy Tutor discusses recent strike action at Wintec and the support the branch has received from both staff and students from around the country.

Wet weather didn’t dampen our spirits. But the ongoing refusal to pay staff a fair return on our work does.

It’s been 10 years since Wintec TEU members last took action. We have been slow to anger, but now we are resolute and determined to see this through. We don’t want to disrupt students’ learning, but only the employer can stop this now and prevent continued action.

TEU members at Wintec have agonised over the best way to make a stand - a way which gets attention but does not affect our students. The reality is, to get the message across to Wintec management, to get them to understand how undervalued, overworked and disgusted we are feeling about a 1.5 per cent offer, we have had to take further action.

1.5 per cent does not keep up with the increasing costs of living. It barely buys a cup of coffee and a sandwich per day.

A half day stoppage earlier this month was only one of the actions we have been taking. We have also been withdrawing our labour in other ways, including not attending or taking part in programme committee meetings; not doing work relating to moderation or confirmation of assessment results; and not entering or providing grades.

We don’t want anything radical. A three per cent pay rise is a fair and reasonable request. Paying staff for the value they bring makes for happy staff and we all know this leads to happy, satisfied students with great educational outcomes.

The students get it. Perina Mucalo, the President of the Student Association of Wintec, joined us on the picket line and encouraged students “to make some noise in class” to show they were behind tutors getting a three per cent pay rise.

TEU members around the country get it. They sent messages of support, like this one from the Toi Ohomai Tauranga branch president Pam Fleming:

“We know how difficult it is to take industrial action, and to be driven to this stage is so frustrating, so unhelpful, so devastating to our members, their families, their students. It is unbelievably short-sighted and unnecessarily antagonistic behaviour by your management team.  As your colleagues, please know that we are very conscious that you take this action on behalf of us all – fighting for terms and conditions that should be standard”.

And this from branch president Craig West and the team at Otago Polytechnic:

“Otago Polytech TEU members achieved 3% so stand strong for what you deserve! We are all right behind you…”

We here at Wintec wholeheartedly appreciate the support and aroha. We know that our demands reflect a fair return on our hard work, dedication, passion and loyalty. We don’t take action lightly, but we know the actions we take are necessary to ensure we can continue to provide our students with the dedication and expertise they deserve, and so that staff can better provide for ourselves and our families.