Tuesday, May 04, 2010

35 librarians- ah, now for lunch.

Members of the Tertiary Education Union at the University of Canterbury have reacted with anger and dismay to the latest change proposal in which fifty-eight staff positions are targeted for disestablishment.
Thirty-five of these positions are in the university's libraries.

It is the opinion of members that the roles proposed in place of those marked for redundancy do little to consolidate the expertise and institutional knowledge that are a hallmark of the work done at this university. The proposed replacement of the professional librarians who lead the university's libraries with Centre Manager roles is of particular concern, as is the Vice-Chancellor's as-yet-untested claim that the ongoing employment of senior librarians would occur at the cost of academic jobs elsewhere in the university.

The Tertiary Education Union has represented its members throughout the submissions process associated with the multiple change proposals under Project STAR. It has worked not only in defence of members' positions but also of members' own vision for the university. Its views are informed by the deep expertise and experience of its members, from new staff who have joined the university from other institutions to those who have served the Canterbury community for many decades.

It is the view of the union that the labour force of a large public institution such as the University of Canterbury is an asset, not a liability, and that positive outcomes for the future are best achieved by treating it as such.

This from the president of our local UC branch of the tertiary education union.
And so it is: the barbarians are not at the gate, they are at the helm at the University of Canterbury.
The library is the core of a university: heart and brain. You cannot hack away at it without damaging the institution.
I could go on at length about what a complete farce of inHuman Relations uncompetence and Managerial Flatulence the whole "Project Star" has been. (And I started out as being modestly in favour of it: the University does have some odd management practices, and there was- and will be- plenty of siloing, excess of managers and duplication of services.)
But... usually when you cut services you have a vision of how to better provide them. Usually you know what people do (or what 'functions' they 'fill' in the Inhuman Relations Vision) before sacking them.
I can- and, sigh- do!- vent about 'project star' for hours (they spelt the name backwards, a local wit proclaimed). And that wouldn't touch on the debacle at the College of Education.
I seem to need to vent because I feel powerless. There is some fight-back (the Academic Board gave a solid push) but we are divided, herded into seperate corrals,and there is little opportunity to take a public stand.
And while real damage is being done to a major public institution- that feels wrong too.


Hamish said...

Is there some sort of Machiavellian wit at play here, "STAR"?
Why not Wrecking Crew or Bugger Uppers.
How can they think that this level of devastation could be anything except devastating.
Next question why do these people hate education, they are surely trying to kill it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you see "STAR" stands for "Supporting Teaching and Research" by axing support staff. It's simple.
And you have fallen into the trap of thinking this is about education. It's just a few brave souls forging highly successful careers, and it's all about their careers. Education just happens to be what they are bravely succeeding in today: tommorrow it will be finance, politics or knee-capping.
These are our Tall Poppies. We need to celebrate them and pay them ooddles, and clap and cheer at their devast- I mean 'world class vision'. Or they'll bugger off somewhere more corrupt and leave us behind, toiling away in our sad little dead-end jobs, till our mediocre lives finally expire.

Jane Robertson said...

I've just read this. The area I used to work in at UC no longer exists - blown apart. I naively thought that the western world was on the brink of a major shift in economic perspective - but if so clearly no one told UC managers.