Uni job cut plan labelled ‘drastic’

A union organiser has labelled the loss of 160 full-time-equivalent jobs at the University of Otago drastic, saying it will have "devastating" consequences for those involved.

Yesterday, University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne announced the cuts to a room full of support service staff in the St David lecture theatre at the Dunedin campus.

The cuts are expected to save the institution $14.9million a year, but what jobs are on the chopping block remains unclear.Tertiary Education Union organiser Shaun Scott said the cuts were likely to affect more than 160 people.



"That 160 is the full-time equivalent, so when you throw in part-time people it might be a bit higher than that."

Yesterday, staff were "pretty shocked" to find out how many jobs would go, Mr Scott said.

"While we’re pleased there will be fewer people out of their jobs at the end of the process, it is still a drastic cut — 160 FTE staff losing their jobs is devastating to those individuals."

University of Otago staff leave the St David lecture theatre following the announcement of 160...
University of Otago staff leave the St David lecture theatre following the announcement of 160 support service staff redundancies yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

The uncertainty concerning who would retain their jobs would further contribute to low morale and stress which was the worst he had seen in the 17 years he had been an organiser.

Staff in roles which would not change, or would have minor changes, would be informed in a letter by the end of the year, a decision document revealed.

The institution was now calling for voluntary redundancies before specific job cuts were decided next year.

All support service job descriptions would be updated and "re-evaluated" next year, the document said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said any job losses were upsetting and difficult.

"However, I do understand the overriding expectation on the University of Otago as a public sector organisation is that it is run as efficiently as possible."

There had been high profile job cuts in the city recently and 350 Cadbury staff will be made redundant  by next year, but figures showed there had been a net gain of 644 jobs in the year to March 31, Mr Cull said.

"This may all be of little consolation to the university staff affected by today’s announcement ...

"However, I am hopeful that, over time, those affected can be absorbed in other employment in the city."

Yesterday’s announcement comes after a two-year process which included a support services review in 2015 and a three-month long consultation process this year in which 611 submissions were made about the cuts.

A number of changes to the proposal, including reducing the number of job losses from 182 to 160 (FTE) had been made in response to staff feedback, Prof Hayne said.

Other changes included increasing staff in the student development sector from 13 FTE to 21, and an additional 15 FTE administration staff, she said.

"The overwhelming feedback was generally supportive of the model.

"There is wide recognition that we need to change the way we do business in several areas and we need to focus our collective efforts to get this right."

A university spokeswoman said the institution offered "generous" redundancy packages, including up to 45 weeks salary.



Job cuts

• 160 full-time-equivalent jobs to go.

• Will save $14.9 million a year.

• At present the university employs 2300 FTE general staff.

• 20 years since the university reviewed administrative services.

• Staff who will keep their jobs, or have minor changes to their jobs, will know by the end of the year.

• The university is calling for voluntary redundancies.




If they sacked the woman running the place they would save a fortune.