Polytech proposals: Cuts in the South

The Otago Polytechnic is to become part of a single crown entity. PHOTO: ODT FILES
More than 20 jobs at southern polytechnics are set to be axed as "overwhelmed" staff struggle with a lack of information about the looming cuts.

Until now, Te Pūkenga has refused to release the number of jobs affected at Otago Polytechnic and the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).

However, yesterday in documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA), the organisation revealed 12 roles at Otago Polytechnic and nine roles at SIT are proposed to be cut.

In addition, there were 18 roles at Otago Polytechnic and 17 roles at SIT proposed to be disestablished with redeployment opportunities available within one or more of the teams.

The proposed restructuring comes as the government pushes forward with the creation of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (Te Pūkenga), an overarching institution which will have a national office based in Hamilton.

Tertiary Education Union representative Daniel Benson-Guiu said staff were experiencing a "significant amount of anxiety".

"Te Pūkenga is a beast that is being pushed through nationwide.

"Staff are being shown proposal after proposal and are very overwhelmed," Mr Benson-Guiu said.

Asked whether he suspected there would be more restructuring proposals in the immediate future, he said "that’s a question you need to ask Te Pūkenga".

"What we do know is that staff are really uncertain about what sort of roles they will take in the bigger structure. Since the proposals were first put forward, we haven’t really received much in the way of detail. It’s made it difficult to submit on them."

The Otago Daily Times has approached Te Pūkenga for further comment.

In the OIA correspondence, Te Pūkenga chief executive Peter Winder said the change proposal on the future structure for five of the eight groups within Te Pūkenga was shared with all staff on June 15.

"The proposal will support Te Pūkenga becoming a unified organisation committed to being agile, equitable, and responsive at regional and local levels, meeting the evolving needs of ākonga [students], employers and communities across Aotearoa New Zealand," Mr Winder said.

He said there would be a five-week consultation period and Te Pūkenga was "fully committed to considering all feedback received before making any final decisions".

"It is important to note that this is still a proposal for change, as such no roles have been confirmed to be disestablished. The final determination for the organisational structure is expected later in the year once all feedback is considered," Mr Winder said.

There are 934 roles at SIT and Otago Polytechnic that are not impacted, have a proposed minor change, or are fixed term.

"Te Pūkenga is a national network and so the new roles could be based anywhere across New Zealand, including Otago and Southland," Mr Winder said.

But Mr Benson-Guiu said there needed to be more clarity.

"Our members want to be empowered to do their jobs, without the distraction of reviews," he said.

By Matthew Littlewood