The message was clear at a stop-work meeting at Tai Tokerau Wānanga - NorthTec this month – ‘show us some respect’.

TEU members attended a stop-work meeting earlier this month to discuss the employer’s recent pay increase offer. NorthTec’s academic staff want a 3% pay rise to recognise the hard work they put in across their communities, while the employer is offering just $700.

Together, TEU members have rejected the employer’s offer and have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action for a pay increase that acknowledges their skills, experience, knowledge, and commitment to delivering and supporting transformative tertiary education.

But it’s not just the employer’s pay offer that has NorthTec members taking action. The dire financial position of regional polytechnics puts the government in their sights also.

Cost cutting measures have also resulted in services to students being cut or outsourced. At a meeting with the Tertiary Education Commission last year, staff spoke about debt collectors having been sent to the homes of students to collect unpaid fees. Services to staff and students have also been reduced at a time when a focus on wellbeing is purportedly being prioritised by Government and institutions around the country.

According to NorthTec members restructuring has taken a toll on staff morale. Crude financial metrics and a focus on short-term profitability has left many feeling demoralised and undervalued. The low pay offer presented by the employer has only exacerbated these feelings.

Against this background, it is not surprising that NorthTec members (who are amongst the lowest paid in the sector) have now said “enough is enough”.