Auckland Professor Tim Hazledine is either stupid, brave, or possibly both

An academic that thinks it is fair enough to be docked an hour’s pay for not working for an hour is a rare creature indeed. ?Even rarer, one that goes up against the union comrades in public.

we went on strike, to protest lack of progress in our pay negotiations with the Vice Chancellor. It was just a little strike – one hour from noon on a Thursday. I happen to give a lecture at this time, so I cancelled that, and spent the hour eating my lunch and reading the newspaper.

When I got back to my desk I found a terse email from the Director of Human Resources (sic), telling me that an hour’s pay would be deducted from my salary this month.

Fair enough, I thought: you go on strike; you withdraw your labour: you don’t get paid for that time – that’s how it works.

But I was wrong. At least, I wasn’t on-side with a large number of my colleagues. First a trickle, then a flood of messages came across from the union group-email list – all the next day, all weekend, and still going. My colleagues were writing in protest at the DHR’s email. They thought its tone ungracious and uncollegial. But they were specially upset at having their pay docked for that hour, even though most (not all, surprisingly) had obeyed union orders and gone on strike.

Uncollegial. ?Typical mob mentality dressed up as gentile resistance.

What is their beef? Over and over, colleagues reported the “extra”, hours they routinely put in for their research and their students – well over 40 hours a week, and often in the evenings and weekends, many claim. They thought it unfair that this “unpaid” labour should be rewarded by a pettifogging clipping of their pay packet because of one hour’s industrial action.

Personally, I am not too sure about this argument. But what I was really impressed, or depressed, to learn is just how unhappy many of my colleagues are. They, like me, love their work, but they do not love their job at the University of Auckland. Especially with the younger ones, and perhaps especially the women, they feel insecure, unappreciated, frustrated, in a work place that has become increasingly bureaucratised; in which “management” has seemingly lost sympathy with our core academic values.

That’s what they say they feel, anyway, and the numbers are supportive: in the Faculty of Commerce, for example, the ratio of managers and their ilk to front-line teaching, research and support workers has increased from two managers to every 40 lecturers to about two to five over the past 30 years. And believe me, our work has not been made easier or more effective as a result.

Hopefully management will get the message. They have actually backed down on the pay cut, so perhaps that’s a good sign.

Good to see commercial realities knocking on the door of Academia. ?It has to be one of the larger troughs of taxpayers money and it has historically been topped up generously by successive governments. ? How else can they pay for an 100% plus increase in management staff without a proportional improvement in productivity?


– NZ Herald