Challengers in NTEU elections

Issue 

BY JEREMY SMITH

All positions in the National Tertiary Education Industry Union are up for election in 2002.

In the national elections, president Carolyn Allport, general secretary Grahame McCulloch and national assistant secretary Ted Murphy are facing a contest from Vicki Sentas from the University of Technology Sydney and Justin Bare and Bruce Lindsay from Victoria University, running on a platform called “Democracy and Action”. The challengers are all working in student unions.

The incumbents are running on a ticket called “National Strategy, Local Strength”. Their track record includes significant salary increases through enterprise bargaining, winning reinstatement for sacked academic Ted Steele, winning permanency in the industry and maintenance of 17% employer superannuation contributions.

The incumbents future priorities include: campaigning for a reduction in workloads through higher staffing levels, enforceable staff-student ratios and stricter regulation of general staff overtime. They emphasise better career paths for general staff, improved job security and a reduction in the levels of casual employment.

In addition to industrial issues, they present themselves as strong advocates of public education, social justice for Indigenous people and refugees and independence for the ABC. “National Strategy, Local Strength” has widespread declared support from local branch delegates.

The “Democracy and Action” team say they will push the NTEU beyond a strategy that revolves around enterprise bargaining and political lobbying. They stress that the union needs to intensify local campaigns. They believe the key industrial issues are casualisation, the growing divide within the workforce and the need to campaign for “just pay” (flat increases rather than percentage increases). They also call for greater involvement in social movements and a radical restructuring of the union.

The current national leadership has a good track record by the standards of white-collar unions. In particular the general secretary has played a good role in supporting proposals for industrial action and in supporting solidarity campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region.

A separate contest is taking place in the Victorian division between the incumbent “Active Union: Unity and Experience” team and the “For a Renewed and Active NTEU” ticket. The challengers stand for more effective public advocacy on university and TAFE issues, improved job security and career progression for general staff and an extension of the industry-wide super scheme. Polls open on July 10 and close July 22.

From Green Left Weekly, July 10, 2002.
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