Since the launch of our workloads campaign, Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union has asked two simple questions about unsafe workloads: What’s the worst that can happen if you say no? And what’s the worst that can happen if you say yes?

It’s now time for our National Secretary Sandra Grey to give her answers to both of those questions by way of her workload story from her time as a Social Policy lecturer at Victoria University | Te Herenga Waka.

Fifteen years ago, Sandra’s mum Annette Grey underwent life threatening breast cancer surgery at Auckland Hospital. But as her mum was being wheeled into surgery, Sandra was in Wellington – her students needed her. ‘For some reason I prioritised my class over my mum.’

Her decision carried with it a high personal cost. ‘I couldn’t concentrate during the day. All I could think about was what was happening for my mum. …She went from that surgery to ICU. Luckily, she came out. …what’s the worst that can happen [if you say yes]? Like me, you can really have some deep regrets. …I regret, every day, that I prioritised work over my mum.’

Having quickly realised her mistake, Sandra approached her Head of School to request time off because she had to spend time with her mum. His response was simple. “Of course you do. I’ll find someone to cover your classes.”

If you missed our first workload story, from Manukau Institute of Technology’s Steve McCabe, you can read it here.