Two of the more than 100 NorthTec tutors undertaking industrial action have spoken out about a dispute over pay and working conditions, describing the latest offer from their
employer as a "slap in the face".

Sharlene Nelson and Layne Melshinger work out of NorthTec's Dyer St campus in Whangārei and said, although they were paid for 37 hours per week, they worked well above those hours.

The duo, together with 135 other tutors, are members of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) that has been negotiating collective agreements with NorthTec since August last year and decided to take industrial action this week.

They are not taking attendance rosters and not entering or helping with entering marks/grades into the system.


The strike action will continue until February 28 and further action may be taken if issues under negotiation remained unresolved.

NorthTec tutors reject pay offer, take industrial action

TEU is asking for a 3 per cent pay rise but say NorthTec is offering a $1000 salary increase and asking the union to support a proposal for some full-time tutors to work part-time.

Nelson has taught food and beverage Level 3 for eight years while Melshinger has been a tutor in road transport for four years.

"Their offer feels really disrespectful because we often go the extra mile. It's a slap in the face. We feel undervalued. We just want to be paid fairly," she said.

Nelson said tutors realised times were tough and their pay depended on revenue coming in to NorthTec and that was why they have decided to ask for a 3 per cent salary increase only.

Sharlene Nelson says a pay increase of $1000 is not fair remuneration for the work tutors put in. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Sharlene Nelson says a pay increase of $1000 is not fair remuneration for the work tutors put in. Photo / Michael Cunningham

She said tutors loved their work and what they could achieve with the students, and it was only fair they be adequately remunerated.

Melshinger questioned when tutors would stop being made the scapegoat for standing up for themselves.


"Deciding on the current action is quite a big deal for us because students mean a lot to us. A lot of us tutors feel guilty but there comes a time when you have to say no."

Apart from working beyond what they were paid for, Melshinger said they also worked with students who have their own learning challenges.

NorthTec chief executive Wayne Jackson said the polytechnic was disappointed in the partial withdrawal of duties by some staff but has systems in place to ensure minimal impact on students.

He said NorthTec remained open to engage with staff when industrial action ended.