Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 24, No 23

As 2020 nears an end, it’s important we reflect on the year that has been, and all we have done together as Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union.

2020 has been a uniquely challenging year but there is also a lot we can be proud of in our continued work together and the awhi we have shown one another.

Over the course of lockdown, and throughout the year, we all became better acquainted with online tools for teaching, support, and union activity. While we recognise the many shortcomings of emergency remote teaching and support, our use of online hui as a union enabled us to better stay in touch with one another, and opened our meetings to a wider group of members. Our ability to stay connected was truly tested, but the tremendous feedback and thanks we received let us know that our communications and support were appreciated.

TEU members have worked on so much, and achieved so much, that we can only highlight a few areas.

A key achievement was our successful campaign to ensure casual, short-term and fixed-term staff - those whose positions were set to expire over the lockdown period - continued getting paid over lockdown. This was a significant win for us in the earlier stages of the pandemic.

Later, we relaunched our Secure Work = Better Futures campaign at three institutions: Te Whare Wānanga o Otago | University of Otago, Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau | Auckland University of Technology and Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka | Unitec Institute of Technology. As a result the campaign, over the last fourteen months more than 40 TEU members have had their fixed-term appointments converted to permanent work. That’s forty more workers, their whānau, and communities who will have a more secure summer break, and this number continues to grow with the strength of the campaign.

We’ve stood firm against the use ofagainst voluntary leaving schemes and enhanced retirement offers, encouraging members to push-back against the selling of jobs, and called on all leaders in the sector to lead by example and bring to the table new approaches to the management of tertiary education institutions.

Our continued work in the reform of vocational education and training has meant government agencies, and Te Pūkenga in particular, recognise the need for staff voice early in any process of decision-making. We are building staff voice, staff particpation and union representation into the design and ongoing development of these institutions and their processes. This is a huge win for TEU and all who work in the ITP sector, and we will continue to fight to ensure staff voice and union representation extends to our universities and across the tertiary education sector.

At Te Herenga Waka Victoria | University of Wellington, TEU mobilised members and  worked with PGSA and VUWSA to halt the ‘Whiria project’ a large scale, highly controversial restructuring project.

TEU members stood in solidarity with kaimahi Māori, and the ‘Waikato Six’ in opposition to structural, institutional, and casual racism at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato | University of Waikato and in the tertiary education sector.

Following the release of the Massey University | Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Digital Plus strategy, we held a number of hui with members at Massey's Albany, Manawatū, and Wellington campuses. In the following months TEU contributed submissions and continued to support members frustrated and disatisfied with the proposals.

We appreciate the challenges our members have faced over the course of 2020. There will undoubtedly be many more to come in 2021. But together, in union and in solidarity with our colleagues around the country we can be proud of all we have achieved. So I hope you all are able to take a well-deserved break – we have certainly earned it – and come back next year, rested and  energised, as we continue to stand together, work together and make a difference together, wherever we can.

Meri Kirihimeti,

TEU Tumu Whakarae | National President Michael Gilchrist.

Also in this update:

Tertiary Update: Top ten stories of 2020

Determined NorthTec members lead the way

Clear co-design with Māori needed to make strategy live

All women in Aotearoa working for free until Christmas

Designing Together – A conversation about Te Pūkenga’s operating model

Taking time for you over summer

Other News:

Auditor-General warns of potential $53m loss for polytechnics - RNZ

Open Letter: Income support must go up before Christmas – Action Station

Victoria University staff feel 'guilt-tripped' into giving up jobs after not-very-merry Christmas speech - Stuff

'This is urgent': Fed up employment commissioner launches inquiry in low pay for Pacific workers - Stuff

Massey scientists 'stressed and anxious' as course cuts confirmed – NZ Herald