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TEU Tertiary Update

Column – Association of University Staff

Christchurch Polytechnic wants longer days for teachers CPIT is seeking to make its staff teach more hours on more days across the year and give up weeks of leave. Tertiary Education Union (TEU) advocate Kris Smith says it is simply not fair for …

Christchurch Polytechnic wants longer days for teachers

CPIT is seeking to make its staff teach more hours on more days across the year and give up weeks of leave. Tertiary Education Union (TEU) advocate Kris Smith says it is simply not fair for a polytechnic that has made large surpluses to do this, while not increasing staff pay since 2009.

“Staff at CPIT are already giving their all, including working long hours and extra days to help students through the aftermath of the earthquakes. But just because they are doing that now does not mean the polytechnic should take away their leave or their contractual right to a fair limit on teaching days and timetabled teaching hours” says Ms Smith.

Wanting staff to give up leave and to teach more hours and over more days will affect quality says Ms Smith. “Students are not asking for more classes over more days and hours, so why is the polytechnic trying to make its staff work these longer hours? Longer hours and less leave mean more workplace stress and unfair pressure on quality education.”

TEU members at CPIT are holding a paid stop-work meeting on Monday 1 August at 10 am where they will announce the result of an industrial action ballot taken in response to this proposed increase in workload. They will be arriving with placards protesting the polytechnic’s proposal to take their leave and increase their working hours.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Restructuring at Vic draws public opposition
  2. International support for general staff rights
  3. Government blocks public hearing on trade agreement
  4. Paid recognition of Māori and Pasifika union leaders at University of Canterbury
  5. Other news

Restructuring at Vic draws public opposition

TEU members at Victoria University of Wellington’s threatened Political Studies and International Relations Programme and Crime and Justice Research Centre are planning a rally next Thursday on Kelburn campus’s Hunter Courtyard. The 1.15pm rally will bring together staff, students and members of the public who are concerned about university proposals to either cut or close departments or centres.

Over two hundred people so far, including many former students and people from outside Wellington, have signed an online petition to the university’s vice-chancellor calling on him to withdraw the restructuring proposals.

Last week the Crime and Justice Research Centre attracted media attention when Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft told the Dominion Post there had been international interest in the centre’s work, and he knew of no other organisation that could produce that kind of research.

“It would be a major loss.”

Heather Henare, the chief executive of Women’s Refuge, Tony Paine, the chief executive of Victim Support, and Kim Workman, the director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, also all spoke publicly in support of the centre.

A senior research fellow at the centre, Elaine Mossman, told the Dominion Post the centre employed three staff and had generated steadily increasing revenue over the last few years.

Centre staff were left bewildered at the justification for closing the centre down. “The projected figures they have provided are based on half a year’s income only so, of course, it shows us running to a deficit. For the last four years we have run at a surplus.”

Victoria’s vice-chancellor yesterday responded to TEU’s claim that university management have failed to comply with the Education Act and Victoria’s statute on Academic Board by not consulting with Academic Board on academic changes of this kind.  

The vice-chancellor claims wide powers for management and denies any role for Academic Board in the current changes, except in the case of the closing of the Crime and Justice Research Centre (CJRC). If a decision is made to close the centre, the vice-chancellor concedes he will ask Academic Board to provide advice.

International support for general staff rights

The global education union Education International is investing €68,000 in an effort to prevent the growing use and exploitation of general staff who are employed on a casual, part-time and/or limited-term basis without continuing security of employment.

TEU National President Sandra Grey reports that the Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in South Africa has passed a resolution committing to addressing the distinct collective bargaining issues general staff around the world face, including a lack of respect and recognition, and poor pay and working conditions.

Dr Grey says that EI, to which TEU is an affiliate member, believes general staff should enjoy the same status, rights and conditions as other education employees with similar academic and technical qualifications and experience.

“General staff can best contribute to the health, education and safety of students when they are part of a single unified workforce that works directly for the education institutions.”

EI now intends to work directly with other global organisations, especially the ILO, to promote the conditions of work and the rights of general staff, including their right to organize and bargain collectively.

Meanwhile, general staff at Victoria University of Wellington celebrated a belated general staff day yesterday with TEU staff and members delivering cakes to general staff, and then TEU hosting a barbeque lunch and quiz. Over 130 TEU members attended the lunch, many taking the opportunity to discuss employment issues with their colleagues.

Government blocks public hearing on trade agreement

The government has blocked a request for a select committee hearing on the implications of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

A parliamentary petition signed on behalf of 13 organisations that collectively represent hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders made the request to the select committee.

The groups include the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and individual unions including TEU, as well as Oxfam, the NZ Public Health Association and the NZ Society of Authors.

TEU has regularly expressed concern that the proposed trade agreement could give private US tertiary education companies the right to sue New Zealanders over tertiary education quality assurance measures, public funding or other restrictions that they did not like. 

The Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade select committee only agreed that the first signatory, NZCTU President Helen Kelly, could present additional written information.

“This hearing would have been an opportunity for those who support the agreement to make their case and for those with concerns to be heard before the negotiations proceed any further”, said Robert Reid, who signed the petition on behalf of the National Distribution Union.

NZCTU President Helen Kelly expressed concern that the select committee’s action “reinforces widespread criticism that the government is not allowing this hugely important agreement to informed public scrutiny before the deal is signed and sealed.”

“We have many concerns about the effects of the proposed agreement, including on the cost of health care and public health such as tobacco control, development of well-paid jobs through use of government buying power to favour local firms, and the powers it gives to overseas investors to sue the government.”

Paid recognition of Māori and Pasifika union leaders at University of Canterbury

TEU and the University of Canterbury have negotiated a key role for TEU Te Uēpu representatives into the new collective agreement.

The University has agreed it will support paid participation of a Te Toi Ahurangi or Te Uēpu representative “in branch and related activity of the union within and beyond the workplace”. In return, TEU will also consult with, and provide prior notice to the university of any meetings or demands that require the input and/or presence of the TEU Māori representative.

The university and TEU have negotiated a similar clause for paid Pasifika representation within and beyond the workplace.

TEU advocated strongly for the claim during its mid-agreement negotiations with the university, with the university very willing to acknowledge its obligations and commitments to Māori and Pasifika staff. The union says the agreement, if ratified by TEU members in an upcoming ballot, bodes well for future working relationships with Māori and Pasifika members.

Other news

With the Government’s cuts to refugee study grants about to come into effect, refugee students will need extra help and support, an agency says. Last year the Government cut refugee study grants from next year. The grants, which began in 2003, provided recipients up to $4000 a year for each year of their qualification – The Dominion Post

A priest working as a senior executive at the Auckland University of Technology has resigned after “accounting discrepancies” involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Jonathan Kirkpatrick was chief executive of the AUT Business Innovation Centre and is now at the centre of a police complaint. – New Zealand Herald

The founder of a trades-focused education centre says Māori students thrive under its guidance. MIT’s director of external relations Stuart Middleton told Nine to Noon that students are doing far better than they would under the regular school system. He says the national average for Maori students getting level 1 NCEA or national certificate of educational achievement standards in Year 11 is 61%. However, Mr Middleton says under its system, they are achieving 80% – Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon

A church in Arizona and one in Kentucky are suing one another over the sale of an apparently unaccredited for-profit online university. The suits say that Child of the King Ministries, in Louisville, sold American International University to Church for the Nations, in Phoenix, last year. Child of the King says that Church for the Nations isn’t making the required payments. But Church for the Nations says that Child of the King made false claims about the university, including that it had accreditation, was affiliated with various other educational institutions, and had a base of foreign students who wanted an American degree.  – The Louisville Courier-Journal via Inside Higher Ed

Pressure to perform well in audits such as Excellence in Research for Australia and in international rankings has left universities juggling their budgets to cover an estimated $2.7 billion research-spending shortfall. “There is a clear trend of universities diverting more income to research in terms of their total operating expenditure” – The Australian

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day.

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