Another year bites the dust.
Dec. 12, 2023
Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 27, No 21
Here we are again, in December looking back on another big year in the life of our union and the tertiary education sector. It’s been a year dominated by cuts to staffing in the sector, turmoil in Te Pūkenga, and a general election campaign and outcome that has left us with a lot of work ahead.
But while all these challenges have been met with gusto, we have been forging ahead with our pay equity claims, commissioning research, meeting with and lobbying politicians and government officials, changing our union’s constitution, embracing co-governance, advocating hard for our members both collectively and individually, moving over 40 members to permanent roles from fixed term appointments, defending academic freedom, and winning a few court cases along the way.
All of this mahi is represented strongly in our analytics which continue to show our news pieces being read by more and more people and reported on in more and more media stories every year.
TEU is a strong, growing, active and vibrant union and we can’t wait to do it all again and more with your support and energy in 2024.
And now it’s once again time to round off our last Tertiary Update of the year with a celebration of our ten most read stories of 2024. They are:
1 – Stop the cuts!
Back in April, the warning bells were well and truly ringing – there were massive staff cuts on the way for the university sector. But we were not about to just sit back and let that happen.
Te Pou Ahurei | National Secretary Sandra Grey said “If you listen to the Vice Chancellors, Te Pūkenga management, and/or Universities New Zealand, you would think this is all inevitable, that their hands are tied and making good people redundant is the only way to go. This is rubbish. Management have other choices. One of them is to work with us to secure more funding, which they have steadfastly refused to do.”
Our union fought hard while the Vice Chancellors continued to tell us that it would be impossible to secure more funding from the government. In late June, we got our “we told you so” moment when the then-government responded to our campaign with a $128 million cash injection.
2 – Pay equity benefits everyone
Our pay equity campaign for low paid library, clerical, and administration workers in the university sector ramped up in 2023.
Historically, workers in female-dominated occupations have experienced undervaluation of their skills, experience, and contributions based on gender. Campaigning for Gender Pay Equity is about correcting undervaluation of female-dominated workforces.
Most recent figures show the gender pay gap is around 8.6% when women's median hourly pay is compared with the median pay for men. The gender pay gap for wāhine Māori, Pasifika and Asian women, and disabled women is significantly higher than the overall gap.
Our extensive mahi in this space has only just begun!
3 – Proposed cuts at Massey now total 245
In July, the cuts kept piling up and the total number announced at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa | Massey University peaked at almost 250.
Kaiwhakahaere | Organiser Ben Schmidt said, "it remains incredibly disappointing and short sighted of Massey to continue down this path in spite of the government’s recent $128 million cash injection that was intended to stop cuts of this scale and protect “capacity” and “provision” in the sector nationwide.”
4 – The mood in Te Pūkenga
In the aftermath of an unhelpful radio interview by Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Peter Winder that signalled a shift in focus away from classroom teaching and towards ‘on-the-job’ learning, TEU Branch President at Manukau Institute of Technology Steve McCabe penned a guest blog for Tertiary Update.
In it he wrote: “By the end of the interview I was left with the feeling that Te Pūkenga’s senior managers have no idea who or what they are leading, lack vision and understanding, and see running Te Pūkenga not so much as an opportunity to create the world’s finest vocational education, and more of an exercise in bookkeeping.”
“The mood within MIT, where I work, is bleak. What will change that is the senior managers listening to experienced staff who have been putting learning at the heart of all they do for decades.”
5 – Te Pūkenga cuts speculation
Early in the year, rumours of mass job cuts in Te Pūkenga were reaching a crescendo. As a result, we sought an urgent meeting with Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Peter Winder and TEC Chief Executive Tim Fowler.
Te Pou Ahurei | National Secretary Sandra Grey said, “While these media reports do not contain any new information the anxiety all TEU members feel about the future of their jobs is only exacerbated by leaks and grandstanding by opposition politicians.”
“In the May Budget, the government has an opportunity to properly invest in tertiary education this year – and in so doing ensure that Te Pūkenga does not fail for a lack of public funding.”
6 – Massey Singapore campus inappropriate
In the midst of massive restructuring at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa | Massey University, TEU members were not impressed by their employer announcing that it was “in the final stages of progressing a Joint Venture Agreement in Singapore.”
Kaiwhakahaere | Organiser Ben Schmidt has described this move as “a classic example of public education being inappropriately run as a business instead of a public good.”
7 – Undervalued, ignored, abused, or dismissed
At the end of April, TEU released our latest State of the Sector report - ‘The problem with pay in universities’.
The report showed “that pay in universities is not experienced as a genuine, honest, and transparent way to recognise the important skills, dedication, and care of university staff.”
“Rather, respondents said that pay is a grudging compensation in a system driven by distrust of staff. And the pay rates are not sufficient to cover the hours of work or what staff do.”
One respondent said “it's taken me 7 years to get back to the LOWEST salary I earned whilst working in the manufacturing sector. Why are we not better valued considering the employment landscape at the moment?”
8 – Meeting with Minister Tinetti
When Chris Hipkins became Prime Minister, we got a new Minister of Education in Jan Tinetti. When we met with her for the first time, topics of discussion included “the challenges, controversies, and direction of Te Pūkenga; reporting and auditing in the tertiary education sector; and the morale and wellbeing issues caused by persistent change and underfunding by successive governments.”
Tumu Whakarae | National President Julie Douglas said “Regardless of the fact we don’t always agree with decisions that come out of the Beehive, at least with the current government there is always a constructive dialogue with us. We do greatly appreciate that and hope it will continue.”
9 – HealthCarePlus Webinar with Public Trust
Over the past few years, union-owned member benefit provider HealthCarePlus have been running popular webinars about insurance and money matters. One of their more popular ones with our members was on the subject of the importance of wills, why you need one, common mistakes in wills and how to make one quickly and painlessly.
HealthCarePlus provides “a range of ‘Member-only’ services & offers from a range of trusted partners that aims to support your financial, physical, and mental wellbeing.”
10 – Nationwide paid union meetings to demand a properly funded tertiary education sector
In the leadup to the general election, we advised employers of a two-hour paid union meeting that occurred on every major TEU worksite at 11am on Thursday September 14.
Tumu Whakarae | National President Dr Julie Douglas said, “this unified day of action will ensure that the needs of our sector will remain firmly on the political agenda.”
The meetings yielded commitments from politicians who attended, with then-Minister of Education Jan Tinetti joined by some other Labour and Green MPs in signing a pledge that committed them to work within their parties to achieve “increases to education funding that will bring our expenditure per EFTS up to the OECD average over the next six years, a mandated staff voice in decisions that affect the future of the tertiary sector and funding increases that are fairly allocated to staff costs.”
Te Pūkenga has been tossed on the bonfire with no plan for what comes next – The Post
University releases 2023 gender pay gap report – UoA
Te Pūkenga disestablishment reveals Government’s lack of plan – NZCTU
Concern plans to enshrine free speech at unis could allow hate speech – 1 News