AUT postpones its redundancy plan for six months after a ruling from Employment Relations Authority
By Nic George (he/him)
The staff redundancy plan announced by AUT last year has been put on hold following a ruling from the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in January this year.
This ruling has halted AUT's redundancy plan until July 2023, and academic staff who received a termination notice have been advised that their employment has been reinstated along with their regular salary.
80 academic jobs have been restored as a result of the ERA’s decision.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) lodged a complaint to the ERA claiming the University had not abided by the redundancy process laid out in the Collective Agreement between AUT and the staff.
The Union’s complaint says when the departments received the initial notice of the plan, they were not told which specific positions were surplus. Potentially affected staff members also were not offered the option for voluntary severance as well.
AUT's initial response was to send out an email to all staff with a list of people it planned to cut, which perplexed TEU Organiser, Jill Jones, as she tells Stuff the list is "a gross invasion of privacy".
"They’ve basically put out a list of people who they’re saying has not done enough research or teaching."
Jones says that the University only needed to identify the positions and naming the staff member was unnecessary.
Students took action to fight back against the plan by starting a petition calling for AUT to reinstate all staff members that had been cut and to cease future redundancy plans.
The petition has received just over 850 signatures at the time of publication.
Included in the petition is an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, Damon Salesa, and AUT's Executive
Leadership Team, which highlights the impact a staff cut would have on students.
"Redundancies will leave remaining staff overworked and may impact their ability to provide students with individual attention and support."
The uncertainty had left many students feeling uneasy about whether they would be able to complete their studies at AUT.
According to an AUT press release last year, the main driving force behind the decision was the lack of income
the University was generating without international students and a downturn in local enrolments.
It is almost a year since Aotearoa opened its borders to all vaccinated travellers and key visa holders, which could help bolster international student enrolments at the start of this year. This year's enrolment figures could further impact how AUT proceeds with future redundancy plans after July this year.