Getting gender equity on the bargaining agenda.

Collective bargaining is a key site of action that can be used to tangibly improve the lives of women members.

Irena Brörens, TEU Assistant National Secretary, Industrial.

‘Collective bargaining’ is the process of negotiating what clauses and provisions are contained in your collective agreement and it is a core function of the TEU.

Collective bargaining is conducted at a branch level, but the National Industrial Strategy of the TEU provides an overarching framework to help guide the work of branch level bargaining teams. Having a national industrial strategy gives us collective strength across the motu and it provides a way in which we can work towards standardising collective agreements across our sector.

The strategy has national claims, including gender equity claims, that we encourage all branches to include in their local log of claims .

So how does it work?

The National Industrial Strategy identifies a set of national priority claims that all branches should aim to achieve in their bargaining. The strategy also contains a set of ‘Core conditions’ that branches cannot negotiate away without prior consultation with the Assistant National Secretary Industrial and the Industrial Professional Committee.

The priority claims and core conditions are regularly developed and/or revised by the Industrial and Professional Committee in consultation with the other national committees, TEU staff, Council, elected Leadership (President and Vice Presidents) and TEU Leadership Team. The Council has final approval of the National Industrial Strategy.  

In addition to the union’s priority claims, branches can develop branch claims for bargaining. There is a formal process for branch members to hear the priority claims, put forward their own claims and to agree which claims will go forward into branch level bargaining.

Getting gender equality on the national bargaining agenda

  1. 1.

    Stand for election for the national committees, Council and/or elected leadership positions. Operating at the national level will allow you to be at the decision-making table when the National Industrial Strategy is reviewed and developed.

  2. 2.

    Become part of a relevant reference group or network which feed into national committee work e.g. the Women's Representative Network, Te Uepu, the Rainbow network, and the ROVE, Academic and General reference groups.

Getting gender equality on the local bargaining agenda

  1. 1.

    Throughout the year discuss gender equity issues with your branch members and branch committee and identify areas needing improved processes or conditions.

  2. 2.

    Talk to your organiser about areas of inequality that might be addressed through bargaining.

  3. 3.

    Explore the model claims on this toolkit site which have been successfully bargained for elsewhere. These may highlight potential areas for progress at your branch.

  4. 4.

    Propose local claims for consideration which will help to progress gender equity.

  5. 5.

    Put yourself forward to be considered for the Branch Bargaining team.

General Bargaining Timeline

At least two months prior to initiation
  • Advocate checks National Industrial Officer as appropriate re: the national bargaining strategy/national claims
  • Advocate contacts and advises other unions of strategy (if appropriate)
  • Bargaining timeline/processes agreed with other unions locally

The 'Advocate' refers to the TEU Bargaining Advocate who is usually your organiser OR a representative from the National Industrial Campaigns team.

At least one month prior to initiation
  • Advocate gets coverage clause signed off by the Assistant National Secretary, Industrial as appropriate
  • Advocate checks the rest of collective agreement to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and TEU bargaining strategy
  • Bargaining meetings for members are held at branch
  • Local bargaining team is agreed.
  • Local claims are called

The Advocate and Branch Committee agree the Bargaining Team. This is a key opportunity for a Women's Branch Representative to 1) Put up for consideration claims that will progress equity; 2) be involved in reviewing possible claims from a gender/ethnicity equity perspective and/or 3) talk to the organiser about going on the local Bargaining Team.

60 days before expiry of collective agreement
  • Advocate initiates bargaining (standard documentation)
  • Advocate drafts a log of claims
  • Advocate checks with employers that notice has been given to all employees whose work is covered by the proposed bargaining
  • Branch meetings/ member ballot taken to endorse claims and ratification process.
Bargaining process
  • Preparation for bargaining, including:
    • Bargaining Team agrees Bargaining Process Agreement (BPA) with employer
    • Advocate shares claims with employers (as per BPA)
    • Advocate circulates employer claims to members for feedback
  • Bargaining meetings are held with the employer's lead Advocate (and team) and the TEU Bargaining Team and Advocate
    • Negotiation involves working towards an agreed set of changes to the collective agreement that the members are willing to ratify.
  • Ratification of proposed agreed claims by TEU members OR further negotiation and/or industrial action.

If you are involved in bargaining as part of the Bargaining Team or the broader Branch Committee you will have the opportunity to evaluate the employers claims from the perspective of gender and ethnicity equity. Speak up about any claims that you think may have a disproportional and negative impact on women members.

Please feed the results of any collective bargaining for gender equity to the National Women’s Officer