The second goal in the TEU workplan 2019-2020 is to be the voice of the tertiary education sector - for publicly funded, accessible education, and to ensure a more socially just world.

Our tertiary education system belongs to all New Zealanders. We all benefit from it, and we must all have a say in how our institutions are run. The TEU is a national organisation with both a professional and industrial voice. Our broad interests and objectives make us different from other organisations within the tertiary education sector, and key to maintaining and improving our role as the voice of the sector is our independence.

For National Secretary Sharn Riggs, this independence and focus puts the TEU in a unique position to best represent the needs of staff, students and the sector,

“At a time when managerialism and the shutting down of staff and student voice is being raised as a key concern from our members, having an organisation like our own that is able to speak without fear is an extremely important role for us to play in the sector. That’s why it’s so important that we ensure solid growth within the union if we are to continue to be the leading voice on big issues”.

For Riggs, the TEU’s continued role as voice of the sector is also about gaining active participation from TEU members and allies,

“I think that the TEU encourages participation in a number of ways, but a lot of it is about us being visible as members and staff on site. We also need to continue identifying our allies and people in other parts of the community and society, and other education institutions who share our values and message”.

Riggs continued, “It’s critical that tertiary education is viewed as being something so important to shaping the kind of society we live in. A lot of that is about working with members, and empowering members to believe that it is possible and to our benefit to work towards making those positive changes. Some of that is about celebrating our success, reiterating the things we think are important and never losing sight of the fact that we deliver to individuals through our collective efforts”.

Tumu Whakarae National President Michael Gilchrist reiterated the importance of being the voice of the sector, and of strengthening that voice,

“TEU is the only consistent, broadly supported voice for the principles of the sector. Our members have a role as critic and conscience of society, a role the union as a whole takes seriously. There are many ways to strengthen our voice, but one can be summed up with the motto ‘early to bed, early to rise, organise, organise, organise’. We will be spending our efforts to bring new members in and to organise in ways that make the most of members’ potential contribution. We will continue to provide support and training to members in building and strengthening their voice both in the union and at worksites and through our efforts we will continue to be the leading voice within the sector”.