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Unitec Trades Teachers Among “Vulnerable Workers”

30 May 2008

Unitec Trades Teachers Among “Vulnerable Workers”

The Government’s recent announcement that it will legislate to ensure that basic rest breaks are an entitlement in every work place will be greeted with applause in a surprising quarter – the publicly funded tertiary education sector. Trevor Mallard announced in April that it “may surprise many people that no statutory requirement for meal and rest breaks exists ….However, anecdotal evidence has suggested some sectors ….where there are a lot of vulnerable workers may be providing less than optimal breaks.”

Academic staff at Unitec’s Trades School are among workers referred to by Mallard. In some parts of the School rest breaks are deducted from timetabled teaching hours, while in other parts, rest breaks are excluded from paid duty hours altogether.

“This flies in the face of national and international custom and practice, and sends disturbing health and safety messages in a work area where the recognition of paid rest breaks should be paramount” said ASTE Assistant Secretary Chan Dixon.

The draconian practice will be of interest to students and tertiary funding providers. Currently, the tea break everywhere else in the sector is accepted as being part of working and teaching hours, and the time away from class is also counted as class time.

ASTE will be in discussion with NZQA, TEC and the Students’ Association to ensure that if staff are not having rest breaks counted as part of their working or teaching day, that the time is also being deducted from programme hour requirements and funding arrangements.

CTU will be making its submission to the select committee on this Bill today.


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