“Unfair”, “confusing”, “encouraging nepotism”, and “unworkable” were just some of the words used by TEU members at Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau - University of Auckland TEU branch members meeting to describe the pay system being put forward by the university in collective negotiations. These views were shared at a stop-work meeting earlier this month when members discussed where to go in their stalled collective negotiations.

TEU’s approach is to Pay Well, Pay Fairly and that means a step-based system that is straightforward and that recognises the valuable experience professional staff bring to the institution. However, in the collective negotiations underway at the University of Auckland the employer is looking to extend their performance pay system in a way that would punish some staff by cutting their income in real terms through denying them the general revision (across the board increase) – the increase that keeps university staff  incomes roughly in line with the rising cost of living.

The university’s proposed system favours overly-complicated, punitive and subjective measures of performance over fair and transparent pay. It would achieve its benefits by cutting the general revision (across the board salary increase) to those who have now been deemed ‘over-paid’, and it would further link pay to subjective performance measures, where the bar for a pay increase can keep moving.

TEU branch co-president Nicole Wallace, says support from members at branch meetings has been crucial in keeping staff informed of what the proposed changes will mean, and spreading the word of what a better system that respects staff knowledge and expertise looks like,

“We have been encouraging members to share information with non-members and discuss the proposed system with colleagues - in particular, what it means in the long-term. In the short-term the employer has proposed to give a bunch of people lump sums. That means 2020 could be fine for a lot of people. But it’s about making it clear what this system could mean for people down the track”.

Having endured a lot these past years, and frustrated by their treatment, TEU branch members and professional staff are nevertheless energised. At the stop-work meeting, members agreed it was time to stand up collectively to send their employer a clear message – staff deserve better.

TEU branch members begin the actions in December and have vowed to keep going until they see a shift in the attitude of their employer.