Tertiary staff fear for jobs

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:00 14/06/2014

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As Manawatu's tertiary institutes trim fat to make ends meet, a nationwide survey of workers in the sector has found most of them are fearing for their futures.

Three out of five tertiary education workers believe their jobs will be restructured within the next two years, and 30 per cent believe they will be made redundant, according to a survey released this week on work and wellbeing in the tertiary education sector.

A number of Palmerston North-based tertiary institutes and research centres have made changes in staffing numbers recently - some have scaled back and others were preparing to welcome workers following restructures elsewhere in the country.

Private tertiary institution International Pacific College confirmed this week its 100-strong staffing pool had been downsized in order to meet an operational deficit. About six positions were altered, two roles cut and maintenance services contracted out.

In 2012, UCOL was forced to cut 32 jobs and 15 courses after changes in government funding.

The polytech also settled six months of industrial action last month.

A restructure at AgResearch's Invermay facility will see more than 60 scientists arrive at the Crown institute's Palmerston North campus in 2017.

The report, commissioned by the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) and put together by the New Zealand Work Research Institute in conjunction with AUT University, surveyed 3000 academic and support staff from universities, polytechnics, technical institutes and wananga.

It showed deteriorating wellbeing among tertiary workers, intensifying workloads, reduced job satisfaction, low levels of perceived job security and fears for the sector's future.

TEU national president Lesley Francey said there had been 59 reviews and restructures across 16 different tertiary institutions, affecting more than 350 staff members during March and April this year.

The number of shake-ups in the sector had been so pervasive in recent years that remaining staff were "living under a cloud of job insecurity and fear for themselves and their families", Francey said.

IPC president Wayne Edwards said there was no surprise that workers in the sector felt pressured with the growing demands.

"In today's tight economic environment, pressures inevitably come on tertiary staff to ensure the best use of resources - whether of time, people or money," he said.

UCOL spokeswoman Jean Archer said the current environment was wearing, but management tried to keep staff informed and enthused.

"It's fair to say UCOL has faced challenges and reduced funding in recent years which has placed stress on staff," she said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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