The agenda for TEU’s Conference 2022, to be held at the Brentwood Hotel in Wellington on May 21 and 22, is now set. This year’s conference theme is ‘Awhi Atu, Awhi Mai – Shaping our Future’.

Tumu Whakarae | National President, Tina Smith, says this year’s conference will be full to the brim with opportunities for members to shape the future of both Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union and our sector as a whole:

"One of the key items up for debate this year is a document outlining the guiding principles from which our new Te Tiriti-led union rules will be drafted. The principles have been identified through workshops with members led by the Reference Group, Council, and national committees.”

“This is a unique opportunity for branch committees, and all members generally, to have their say and actively participate in the transformational exercise of rethinking our rules, structures, processes and ways we operate and become one of the first unions in Aotearoa to fully incorporate Te Tiriti, co-governance, Te Reo Māori, tikanga Māori and Kaupapa Māori into everything we do.”

Another focus of conference will be key union campaigns this year and into the immediate future. Chief amongst them is a need to push pay settlements upwards in light of inflation now hitting a thirty year high.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins will address the conference at 11am on day one, which also happens to be the day after Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivers Labour’s fifth budget since taking office in 2017.

Te Pou Ahurei | National Secretary Sandra Grey says Hipkins will face tough questions on the expected dearth of funding for tertiary education in this year’s budget, which has been flat, particularly for the university sector, through the stewardship of successive governments.

“It’s not acceptable now, nor has it ever been acceptable, for the government to continue to underfund tertiary education. We have been repeatedly telling them we’ve got a crisis on our hands, and now the cracks are opening up wider than ever.”

“The chronic under-resourcing and understaffing by universities in response to constricted funding needs urgent addressing and with inflation running at 6.9% we cannot and will not continue to accept low wage movements. If the institutions themselves won’t fund an increase for staff the government will have to.”

The conference will also include the launch of a major campaign to support negotiations for the university sector’s collective agreements, which all expire between June and August this year.