With the pressure of cuts due to underfunding, staff at WelTec and Whitireia have faced years of uncertainty over their jobs, their courses, and the future of their organisations. In response to this uncertainty, TEU members at the two Wellington Polytechnics have been busy organising activities to promote wellbeing, whanaungatanga and solidarity on their campuses.

Both institutions having been through three years of course and staff cuts, changes to roles, and constantly changing expectations. Staff at WelTec and Whitireia know first-hand the importance of sticking together and looking out for one another in the face of stress, pressure and uncertainty.

According to Diana Eyes, academic staff member in the School of IT and Business at WelTec,

“Together we have stood our shaky ground asking the hard questions of management, and we’ve endured changes, from an attempted merger to the drastic measure of an appointed commissioner. Throughout this we continue to remind our members to keep an ear to the ground for upcoming events, including a BBQ for our TEU Members at WelTec, to bring us all together ready to face the next challenge, which will be the reform of vocational education”.

In the face of cuts the two branches are planning activities that will bring members together to encourage solidarity and whanaungatanga. For TEU members, the message from Eyes is simple, “we know that trouble is still lingering on the horizon, so stand as one voice, keep supporting one another, and most of all keep time for your whānau. Say ‘no’ if it can’t be done. Take your tea breaks and keep your weekends free of work”.

TEU members are choosing to support each other and come together in union. Members at both WelTec and Whitireia are showing their support for one another by putting up posters around their campuses to promote wellbeing and work/life balance for staff and students alike.

The TEU commissioned State of the Sector Survey 2019 notes increasing and unsustainable workload as a key concern that has arisen in all of the surveys of tertiary education work that have been completed in Aotearoa over the last 24 years. It is one of the key issues that need immediate attention and consideration by institutional leaders, policy makers and governmental decision makers.

With the Survey revealing a serious drop in staff wellbeing over the last decade, and stress levels increasing over the last three years for over two thirds of all respondents, a focus on student and staff wellbeing is more important than ever. That’s why the TEU encourages all members to follow the lead of our members at WelTec and Whitireia. We must look out for one another and stand together in solidarity during trying and uncertain times.