NTEU launches new campaign
By Jeremy Smith
The National Council of the National Tertiary Education and Industry Union met on October 3-5 to decide on its higher education campaign directions.
The outcome was a turn to a "leading site" strategy: that is, the union will centre its campaign on establishing a high benchmark of wages and conditions at three or four tertiary institutions. It is hoped that this will be the basis of enterprise bargaining negotiations on campuses where the union is weaker and the institution poorer.
Council determined that the union's 15% pay claim is no longer an ambit one and will be at the centre of union-wide industrial activity over the next six months as branches enter into enterprise bargaining. The union resolved that there would be no trade-offs for a wage rise, but recognised that the rise would be followed by job cuts.
The leading site strategy, it was argued, would allow the union to organise a campaign centrally, while enterprise bargaining negotiations continued. The leading sites may be Melbourne and Sydney universities and RMIT in Melbourne.
It is expected that industrial action will flow out of this strategy, including bans on end-of-year exams. The National Union of Students and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations have supported such a campaign.
The NTEU will levy its members $10 per week to raise a $250,000 fighting fund. The militant tactics used by university staff in Canberra last year may be a model for this campaign.