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Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 25, No 20

Following on from the launch of our Fair Workloads campaign in Tertiary Update Vol 25, No 18, we asked our branch president at Manukau Institute of Technology, Steve McCabe, to share some of his thoughts with us based on his perspective as a workplace leader and a champion of work-life balance.

Steve’s approach is to empower his members to take control of their situation. As he puts it, ‘we’re in an employment relationship, and we’re equal partners in it. Employers, the union, and our members are all bound by their collective agreements and employment law.’

‘If your house starts leaking and you have to fix the roof, you can’t go to your employer and say “but I need a few thousand extra dollars” – they’ll say “no. We’ve committed to pay you your agreed salary and that’s what you get.” We need to say the same thing. ‘We’ve committed to work a number of hours or a certain range of tasks each week in exchange for our wage or salary, and that’s what we’ll be working.’

‘Over the past decade there has been a shortfall in funding to tertiary education and as a result our employers have failed to hire enough staff to ensure that workloads are fair, reasonable, and manageable. By you working on weekends you’re enabling and reinforcing the deliberately broken system.’

‘There’s some kind of shame in ‘not working hard enough,’ and this idea that you need to be a team player is exploited by employers who say you’ve got to go above and beyond, to work extra hours.’

‘I tell my students “if you’ve got problems about an assessment outside office hours, that will have to wait. I don’t work weekends.” It’s important to manage expectations from the beginning.’

‘I’ve seen several lecturers resigning over workload stress. And then they don’t get replaced so other people are expected to absorb the already unrealistic workload demands until eventually they leave too. So just putting up with this is not a sustainable strategy.’

To conclude, we asked Steve if he had ever had to represent a member in a disciplinary situation for refusing an unmanageable workload. ‘No, I haven’t – I’m looking forward to the day that happens to be perfectly honest…’

Workload Stories – #1: Steve McCabe (teu.ac.nz)




Source: Awsm.nz