The University of Auckland has said all staff and its contractors are still getting paid during the lockdown, but casual staff were not and contract staff working on Semester Two’s foundation courses were asked to work without pay.
Tertiary education providers, such as universities, polytechnics/institutes of technology and wānanga are considered state sector employers by the government and are expected to pay employees their normal wages through periods of self-isolation.
The same goes for government agencies, schools and crown entities such as ACC and Kāinga Ora.
While some service staff, like security and gardening, are employed directly by the university, some services, such as cleaning and on-campus food outlets, are contracted to third-party suppliers, who employ their own staff.
The university told Craccum in a statement that it is not aware of pay cuts by its contractors, as contracted service providers and on-campus food vendors have been covered by the government’s wage subsidy.
“We are working with all on-campus retailers to understand the financial assistance available to them and what further support the University may be able to provide.”
However, the university also said those working on casual contracts would not receive any wages, as they only get paid for the hours that they work.
Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater said in an All Staff Forum on April 1st that the university will be looking to shift the duties of casual employees to permanent staff.
“The current policy is to preserve our permanent workforce as much as possible in order to reduce the potential of redundancy.”
“This means that, in the first instance, we will be reviewing our non-permanent staff (casuals, fixed terms) with a view that many of these agreements will come to an end and no longer continue.”
“This will provide opportunities for permanent staff to register their interest who are available for alternate duties.”
Two casual staff working at the University Recreation Center told Craccum they were only paid until April 9th, and they were told by email there were no exemptions on not getting paid unless it was proved that “the casual staff were needed and still working” during the lockdown.
The university’s attempts to cut costs in the wake of the lockdown has also affected contracted academic staff working in the second semester.
In an email, teaching staff of the New Start General, a part-time preparation course for an undergraduate programme, were asked to work without remuneration.
“Covid-19 has changed our world and the impact of the fallout requires us to rethink our future,” the university said in the email.
“You may wish to continue with us or find a replacement lecturer by consulting your Head of School. However, if you wish to withdraw your services we will understand.”
While most foundation course lecturers are full time academics who have been paid extra to guest lecture, some lectures and tutorials are delivered by outside staff on fixed term or casual contracts. Staff have been asked to respond by May 4th.
Other New Zealand universities are also making staff changes to reduce costs, with Victoria University considering cutting pay by a fifth or moving to a four-day week, and Lincoln University asking staff to volunteer a five percent wage cut.