So today I participated in a New Zealand Tertiary Education Union protest around seeking a better deal for Professional Staff at my place of work - notably for those who are paid lower than the current living wage for the incredible amount of work that they do.
Because I participated in this protest, I and other colleagues will have an hours worth of our salary deducted from our next pay round to reflect what I am being made to feel is considered civil disobedience lol.
I just laughed at that but really I am baffled. Working in the tertiary sector is not what I imagined it to be. It's not a 9 -5 job. You can't just leave work at work. I bring work home every day. I miss out on so many family/friend moments because I'm constantly doing work. It's not a 9-5 job because my students also work full time. They send me work at 11.00pm. In my bid to build and maintain an international profile (one of the requirements) I am up skyping and emailing at ungodly hours. I know for other people in other sectors this is also true.
The tertiary sector is in a constant state of endless change. Although public investment in tertiary education in NZ is high (in comparison to the OECD average) much of that goes to students as loans and grants than as direct funding to institutions which means Universities have to act more and more like businesses to stay afloat - at least that's what I'm told. One of the benefits of today's protest was the opportunity to talk to other union members about the ever increasing workloads, the lack of appreciation for the over-and-beyond (what we get paid) service to further the character, aims, goals, aspirations and public profile of the institution. Not to mention the collective sense of surprise and disappointment at the uncalled for reaction of the employer - given the incredible amount of unpaid work we all contribute in our various roles.
The last time this protest happened, the reaction was the same. I beamed with pride as other colleagues collectively noted their dissatisfaction with the response from the ivory tower, coupled with anecdotes of the over-and-beyond service this place so much depends on in order for it to be the best it can be - for our students.
Although I don't earn as much as my other colleagues :'( I was happy to sacrifice what little I had in support of this cause. I then went back to my office and finished late again because at the end of the day - the work still has to be done. Four Universities were engaged in some form of collective action today I was told.
And here I am at home, on my laptop, about to respond to emails and work on other projects I have due. And the fight continues.