TEU seeks tripartite talks – again.

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Hipkins and the eight university chancellors “to canvas a tripartite response to ... deliberate disinvestment in staffing and the risk it poses to all universities and their ability to deliver the educated workforce Aotearoa will need for the future.”

In a letter to Chris Hipkins and the chancellors TEU says “a tripartite meeting is the way to strategise how we can ensure staff conditions of work are of a standard which ensures high-quality conditions of learning. It is only together that we can find the best way forward.”

The letter makes the point that disinvestment in staffing has led to “higher student:staff ratios, widespread use of fixed term and casualised forms of employment, problems recruiting general/professional staff, higher churn of staff, higher workloads, and the significant increase in the use of teaching fellows/graduate teaching assistants with the corresponding move away and degradation from research-based teaching.”

TEU has previously attempted to address these issues by approaching Te Pōkai Tara | Universities New Zealand, offering to work with the Vice Chancellors to secure more funding for the university sector. However this attempt was rebuffed by UNZ Chair Jan Thomas, who said “the Vice-Chancellors consider that the relationship with unions should be at the employer level not the peak body level.”

Thomas went on to say “at a headline level we will always agree that greater investment is needed in universities, but we are likely to have very different views as to where that investment is going to make the greatest difference.”