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Transition to Te Pūkenga takes legal step forward for Ara staff

Over 1500 Ara employees received an offer of employment letter today to join Te Pūkenga, in preparation for the tertiary institution’s legal transition on 1 November, 2022.

Staff have been invited to sign and return the letter to move their current salary, leave entitlements, benefits and conditions of work onto a new employment contract with Te Pūkenga.

This ‘lift and shift’ process is about managing the transition to Te Pūkenga well and in a careful, reassuring way, says Darren Mitchell, Chief Executive of Ara. “We want to make sure we transition safely and give employees time to consider their employment contracts before the formal disestablishment of Ara,” he says.

“All existing entitlements will be protected and maintained, so we see this as a step that necessarily precedes the transition to becoming a business unit of Te Pūkenga.  It’s just about looking after our people and ensuring their continuity of employment as we become part of the new national organisation.”

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Ara’s Chief Executive Darren Mitchell says that the same terms and conditions of employee’s current contracts have been offered to over 1500 staff as it moves closer to transitioning to Te Pūkenga

Ara’s largest union, Ara Academic Staff of Canterbury (AASC) President Warwick Shillito says that Ara People and Culture Division has kept the union well-informed about the process. Advice was sought from the union’s legal counsel. “Her feedback,” says Shillito, “assures us that there is nothing for our members to be concerned about. Our advice is to sign the letter for continuity and to stay engaged in the process of transitioning to Te Pūkenga,” he says.

Tertiary Education Union, the dominant union for Te Pūkenga, expressed a similar sentiment through Branch President Jo McLean. “The shift to the new employer is not unexpected,” she says, “and the TEU have worked with Te Pukenga to ensure that members current terms, conditions and service are not impacted as a result of the change in employer. Members can remain confident that they continue to be covered by the Collective Agreement.”

All staff, including those on part-time, fixed term, and casual contracts, have one week to seek legal, union, or other advice and return the signed letter.  Business Partners for each department are on hand to answer questions about individual contractual circumstances. Managers are in communication with team members who are on leave or require extra support.  Printing and administrative support is available to all staff for the return of the signed letters. 

Mitchell says “we’re very pleased to reassure all of our colleagues that they are able to transition to Te Pūkenga and maintain their same terms and conditions of employment.