Exclusion and inaction: Academic precariat experiences of union representation in Aotearoa New Zealand
During the last 40 years, neoliberal reforms to the tertiary sector have led to the casualisation of academic labour and the emergence of an academic precariat in Aotearoa New Zealand. Despite the increasing size of the academic precariat, it does not appear that their voices, concerns, or interests have been adequately represented by the national tertiary union. By drawing on open-text responses from the Precarious Academic Work Survey (PAWS) about what unions could do to improve precarious academic working conditions, we discuss the issues created by the under-representation of precarious academics by the sector union. We communicate the results via four key themes of exclusion, participation, voice, and organising. Most participants articulated frustration and disaffection with the union, suggesting the need for a shift in strategy. This study adds to the growing body of employment relations research recognising that employee voices are multiple, diverse, and fragmented; indicating that unions must attend to the differential experiences of people working in the tertiary sector attributable to employment practices.
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