Branch Presidents’ of the TEU took time to recommit efforts to look after the most vulnerable in our sector during the two days of the 2019 Branch Presidents’ Meeting, including our campaign for secure work, our commitment to the Living Wage, and our support for the University of Auckland Branch in the face of a punitive pay model that has recently been tabled.

There was strong support by those in attendance for the Secure Work = Better Futures campaign being rolled out across the country.

Secure Work = Better Futures will see branches sharing stories of those on fixed-term, casual, and hourly-paid appointments. TEU Organiser Phil Edwards says too many people in the tertiary education sector are struggling to provide a secure future for their families as they don’t know whether they will have a job tomorrow, or the next week, or the next month. Phil sums up the sentiment shared by Branch Presidents in stating, “no one wins when our tertiary institutions create instability for staff.”

The frustration and impact of insecure work is clear in the comments of one of the staff members featured in the campaign, who told us,

“After a year or so I kind of worked out that I'm working hours that I'm not getting effectively paid for, which was... I don't know, it's not a great feeling giving your labour away for nothing and it's frustrating that you're not kind of heard either when you do speak up. For me it went from annoyance to frustration to verging on being disillusioned with working here, and it got to the point where I was probably considering leaving”.

The 2019 Branch Presidents meeting also coincided with Living Wage Week 2019. While TEU’s national industrial strategy includes a national claim for the Living Wage in all TEU negotiations and has resulted in the TEU achieving the previous Living Wage for directly employed staff in several collective agreements, Branch Presidents are encouraged to Stand-Up for our colleagues working in tertiary education institutions who are earning below the Living Wage, and for all underpaid working people across Aotearoa.

As well as vowing to push back on insecure work, and stand-up for the Living Wage, there was also strong support for Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau The University of Auckland Branch who are facing a punitive pay model which has been put on the table by their employer in their collective negotiations.

As University of Auckland Branch President, Nicole Wallace, spoke about the complicated and harsh performance pay model being advanced by their employer, Branch Presidents’ agreed to support staff at the University of Auckland to seek a fair and transparent pay model.

Staff at the University of Auckland will head to a stop-work meeting next week to discuss the next steps in trying to get all staff a fairer pay model.

The message is clear – awhi atu, awhi mai - together we can make sure all workers have decent work and that our employers pay well and pay fairly.