Staff at Literacy Aotearoa Charitable Trust (LACT) are joining TEU, connecting with one another, and realising they are stronger together.

Literacy Aotearoa delivers learning services to adults at a number of locations across the country. The provider employs around 300 tutors assisting in literacy, numeracy, digital and financial literacy, work readiness programmes, Te Reo Māori, Learner Driver Licence and Healthy Lifestyles programmes. Tutors at Literacy Aotearoa work in small teams, and often alone. Pre-Covid-19, tutor contracts were varied, with some casual, others permanent, and many with low-hours.

Following the nation-wide Covid-19 lockdown, individual tutors were encouraged by their employer to accept variations to their employment agreement that would cut their hours of work and/or change their permanent guaranteed hours to fixed-term. Faced with the insecurities of fixed-term and low-hour employment agreements, the Covid-19 pandemic, and no access to Wage Subsidies, tutors at Literacy Aotearoa began connecting and communicating with TEU and with LACT colleagues across the country.

Communicating with one another online provided tutors with a means of connecting in a working environment where many tutors operate in relative isolation from their colleagues. Through connecting and sharing their experiences, tutors were able to voice their concerns around variations to their employment agreement, and discuss the variations with colleagues. As a result a number of staff have now joined TEU where they continue to voice their concerns and gain a sense of community. According to TEU organiser Lawrence O’Halloran,

‘One of the reasons why a number of tutors at Literacy Aotearoa have joined TEU is so they can use the network of the union to understand if colleagues are dealing with the same issues they are and if so how they are responding. We have had a couple of Zoom meetings with members, and we have members who keep their colleagues in touch with the union’s advice on matters such as variations to employment agreements, and what the TEU’s view is.’

As a TEU member at Literacy Aotearoa told TEU,

‘One thing I have learnt is that our ability and willingness to connect, support and be open with each other is vital. It’s not just me for myself, we all have to stick up for each other. Even though a given concern might not be impacting you each day, you still need to stand with the people it is happening to, because tomorrow you may be the one affected. Joining TEU and communicating with one another has created the feeling we’re a team, when the nature of our work can otherwise feel very isolating’.