To: All TIASA members.
From: Peter Joseph, Chief Executive.
Date: 27 March 2020.
Kia ora whanau,
We trust that you are adjusting to our new reality of COVID lockdown and working in isolation and, are staying safe and well.
As you are aware, Shelley Weir, TIASA National President wrote to your Senior Management, stressing the need to provide certainty for allied staff across the sector and listed TIASA’s base expectations with regard to payment, during this lockdown period. We appreciate the many excellent responses received along with copies of communications and guidelines that they have formulated for managers and staff.
Urgent Letter to Minister Hipkins
Unfortunately that has not applied across the whole sector. A number of TIASA branches and individual members were confused and anxious because at the time of the closedown, they were receiving unclear messages from their Institute, particularly with regard to pay over the lockdown period.
Shelley (National President) wrote to Minister Hipkins on 23 March (this was forwarded to TIASA Branches) expressing TIASA’s concern that there was no consistency in the information being provided to staff across the tertiary sector by their senior management. She asked that he issue a clear single statement to tertiary sector staff, advising that in this unprecedented situation staff will be paid normally over the lockdown period without deduction from their sick or annual leave. Shelley said that the statement needed to clarify that staff who cannot for whatever reason work remotely – (for example, no access to wi-fi in their home; employer unable to provide laptop or other necessary equipment; staff member works as cafeteria assistant or in some other role in which it is impossible for them to work from home; or staff who are parents having to provide childcare for them over this period) – will be paid as normal.
Swift action by Tertiary Education Commission
Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Chief Executive, Tim Fowler followed up on behalf of the Minister and we spent some time on a conference call with him yesterday. As a result, Tim has emailed Vice Chancellors and tertiary sector CE’s with a very clear message that support what TIASA had requested through the Minister.
Importantly, it included the following:
“This means for the avoidance of doubt that for all staff, no reduction in salary should occur, and if a staff member is unable to perform any of their normal work from home, then they should be given paid special leave for whatever period applies in lockdown.”
Murray Strong has instructed his NZIST team to send the same communication urgently to all ITP and ITO Chief Executives and their Boards. Murray has been clear that it is expected the messages will also be sent to all staff in ITP’s.
We are pleased that here has been such a quick and positive response to TIASA’s letter to the Minister.
2020 funding for TEO’s
Tim Fowler, TEC Chief Executive, has also clarified funding for 2020 and that TEO’s will not be required to repay TEC if they under deliver on their EFTS. They will receive twelve equal payments that are not required to be refunded to TEC if 2020 targets are not met. This will provide financial certainty for TEO’s for 2020. However, TEC will proceed with recoveries from last year as these have nothing to do with the COVID situation.
NZIST launch on 1st April
A ‘soft’ launch of NZIST (working title) will go ahead on 1st April.
That means that all current ITP’s will become a subsidiary company of New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (working title) effective 1st April.
All ITP staff should by now have received a letter from their Chief Executive, advising that they will transfer to the subsidiary company on their current conditions of employment and that employment is treated as continuous.
Keeping in touch
Over the period of Lockdown, we will provide weekly updates on matters of importance. These will be circulated by your Branch and updates will also be provided on TIASA’s website. TIASA’s Apiha Whakahaere o Te Hononga/National Executive met again today (via conference call) and have Zoom calls scheduled for every Wednesday (or more often if urgent).
TIASA is also involved with daily updates including Zoom meetings with the NZ Council of Trade Unions, and is in regular contact with TEC and NZIST. Shelley (TIASA National President and Michael Gilchrist (TEU National President) have also been in daily contact.
A very big Thank You for the sterling work being done through the lockdown on behalf of TIASA members by your Branch representatives and very many of you.
Congratulations to AUT for declaring Fridays – as low contact days. This acknowledges that these are unprecedented times and that many staff have family and other commitments to juggle while at the same time dealing with the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19. As we understand it, making Fridays low contact days means avoiding emails and meetings and taking time to sort family issues. Let’s hope that this is replicated throughout the tertiary sector.
If you have any questions regarding the above,
please contact us at any of the following:
Please look after yourself and your whanau in these challenging times.
Stay safe and stay strong.
With much aroha.
On behalf of Apiha Whakahaere o Te Hononga/National Executive
“Big enough to matter – small enough to care”