Members of Te Hautū Kahurangi at the University of Auckland just want a little respect and trust from their employer, and they’re willing to stand up together to achieve it.
Tertiary Education Union members met last week to decide where to go in their stalled collective negotiations.
Two matters are creating frustration.
The employer’s proposal of a complex, obscure, and unfair pay system for the people who look after the paperwork, the libraries, the safety of staff and students, the finances, and much more.
And the ongoing misinterpretation of academic freedom by their employer.
TEU co-branch president, Nicole Wallace, told the meeting that professional staff have really endured a lot during these past years.
“Ultimately, we’ve put up with it because we care about our jobs, and so we’ve put in the unpaid overtime to make sure that students’ thesis results are in in time for the next graduation or gone that extra mile so everyone in our team can meet the examination deadline.”
Wallace says the feeling from staff is that in return for this effort, we’ve been treated as if ours jobs aren’t really so important, that we aren’t really important.
“We’re not asking for the earth in these negotiations, just a fair, transparent, and objective pay system - something all workers deserve and many in our sector get.”
As well as being treated fairly, the members at the paid stopwork meeting want some respect back and that means being able to use their legislated academic freedom.
Co-president Jennifer Frost told the meeting that the small progress initially made on the issue of academic freedom had been wound back.
“Our collective agreement should reflect the right of staff and students to comment on all matters related to teaching and learning, including reviews and restructures. We want to keep working on this matter constructively with our employer as we strongly believe broader consultation and discussion are necessary to good decision-making.”
Some at the meeting felt that staff had less voice on campus, and less right to speak up, than controversial student groups.
The meeting agreed it was time to stand up collectively to send their employer a clear message – staff deserve better.
They’ll begin the actions in the first week of December and have vowed to keep going until they see a shift in the attitude of their employer.