Open your eyes and see your University
(to the tune of God Save the Queen)
Open your eyes and see
Our Auckland U
We are her leading lights
We guard her basic rights
It’s us who are the U-
Thwart those who would prefer
Exclusive power o’er her
Confound their knavish tricks,
Confuse their politics,
Strengthen our just critiques
We make it real
Give us pow’r to o’ersee
Arbitr’ry powers that be
Make them consult with us
We claim a say for us
Top down and bottom up
“Critic and conscience” right
Students and staff unite
Fearless in word and deed
Speak truth to power in need
Ensure what students need
Join us to keep her free
We are her leading lights
We guard her basic rights
It’s us who are the U-
Courtesy of Dr Ned McHorse and the Professional Institute for Sociological Semantics in Theorising and Actioning the Knowledge Economy
Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara (formerly the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee) commissioned Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) to analyse the academic workforce, identify possible scenarios for the future and present the universities with options and recommendations to prepare for these changes. BERL’s report, released in February 2011, can be found here: http://nzvcc.ac.nz/files/Academic_Workforce_Planning_Towards_2020_FINAL.pdf (a summary of it is here: http://nzvcc.ac.nz/files/Responding_to_an_ageing_academic_workforce_FINAL.pdf). The report states the obvious. The academic workforce is old and a large number of academics are required to replace those that will be retiring in the near future. The question is how are the academics to be recruited? The report looks at the reason why people are not interested in being academics. At page 20 the report states:
“Discussions with project members indicate that in New Zealand postgraduate students are discouraged from entering the academic workforce due to perceptions about the workload, unattractive working conditions and administrative duties.”
Essentially people can earn more in the private sector for less work, as most academics can testify too, especially in the professional schools. The perception about workloads isn’t just a perception, it is a fact. The report concedes that money is a problem, ie NZ Universities cannot match overseas salaries. The report’s remedy for attracting and retaining academics? Simple:
“[T]here are other indicators of attractiveness of an academic career other than salary. These include job satisfaction, opportunities for research, workload, and working conditions. If people feel supported in their role they will have a higher degree of job satisfaction and it is this that New Zealand universities can focus on to retain their academics.” (at page 27)
The question is, has the VC actually read the report? His actions are going directly against the above stated solution.
Tena koutou katoa
On behalf of the TEU branch committee and members at Victoria University, please accept our warmest expressions of solidarity and support for your industrial action. We have a special understanding of your position, having had to contend with Stuart McCutcheon as Vice Chancellor at Victoria before he became Vice Chancellor at Auckland. We took industrial action several times in that period and that action was worthwhile and effective in every case – even more so in retrospect, perhaps, than appeared at the time. That’s because these struggles are about the future and every action you take now is an investment in the future.
We understand that your struggle at Auckland is about the future of fundamental structures and principles that are central to the integrity of academic life in New Zealand, for both staff and students. We support you and we know future staff and students support you and will be indebted to you for the stand you are taking now.
Kia kaha, noho ora mai
Victoria Branch President
The VC has responded in the NZ Herald in this opinion piece: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10712204. But if you read the piece it doesn’t actually say anything. There is no explanation about why the changes are needed. Currently, the University of Auckland proclaims itself as New Zealand’s leading university (based on large part on its current PBRF ranking). As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
For another story in the media about the stalemate between the VC and his staff see the article, “University of Auckland staff escalate industrial action” by Sarah Robson on 10 March at: http://www.tewahanui.info/wordpress2/?p=3959
What you are facing is a group of men who are used to managing farm and factory workers. If they tried this out with any professionial group not in public service, they would lose big time. The net outcome of all the desired changes to conditions is that NZ becomes a waystage academic cluster where we rapidly produce masses of low level graduates, many from overseas, who quickly pass through a quasi-academic appointment of indeterminate quality on the way to a better job overseas. This will result in endless departmental and classroom patch up jobs, with quality compliance issues and loss of institutional and professional knowledge.
Branch President and Organisers @ Auckland University
The Branch Executive of TEU @ UCOL (Palmerston North, Whanganui & Wairarapa) send a message of support to your Branch and all your members.
We strongly encourage you all to stay strong and keep your conditions in your collective agreement. As a branch that has lost many conditions and now has conditions covered in policy, we can tell you from experience that it is almost impossible to get conditions back and having conditions in policy causes many, many difficulties. Also, you are effectively being offered 4% for 1 day a week (which is 20%) so why would anyone give away 20% to get 4%??
Attacks at the working conditions of those in education is really an attack on the integrity as academics and the heart of education. Education is the people who provide it and society needs the best people in education!
So, Kia Kaha, stay strong & stand together. If the people in Egypt & Wisconsin can get success by solidarity, then there is hope for us all, so don’t give up.
All the very best for your struggles with management.
Branch Chair TEU @ UCOL
The University of Auckland’s TEU branch co-president, Cerian Wagstaff, says the vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon is wrong to accuse TEU of jeopardising funding for the university. Rather she says, in a letter to the Herald, that the vice-chancellor is creating a crisis at the university by refusing to negotiate with the union.
Ms Wagstaff, who is a general staff member, says academic staff are making their stand; “because they know Dr McCutcheon’s demands will decrease the quality of education at Auckland University and lead to the departure of many talented staff and students.”
Ms Wagstaff’s letter followed an earlier Herald story, which reported that union members were refusing to submit PBRF reports, which the university needs in order to get millions of dollars of funding each year.
In that story Dr McCutcheon threatened “if, through protesting, the union was to put revenue at risk then it would be putting jobs at risk and one would hope they would think carefully about that.”
The PBRF strike was the most strongly supported action by TEU members in the industrial action ballot. They hope the action will pressure the university to negotiate with them, while affecting students as little as possible. The University of Auckland not only receives a large sum of money from its PBRF funding, it also claims significant prestige based on its performance in the exercise.
TEU members have now stopped entering their publications into Research Plus, which records their research outputs for the PBRF exercise. They are not validating publications when they are automatically entered and are not complying with the PBRF collection of data or participating in mock rounds.
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