Conference Special!.

Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 28, No 08

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union’s first annual conference under our new Te Tiriti-led constitution was successfully held at Pōneke | Wellington’s Brentwood Hotel last week.

The theme was Tū Kotahi, Tū Kaha – Stand Up for Our Future, with a strong focus on building collective power to achieve our goals.

The keynote address was delivered jointly by the two co-presidents and the National Secretary, and followed a classic union conversation structure known as “anger, hope, action”.
Tumu Whakarae | National President Tiriti Dr Julie Douglas focussed on a few of the key challenges we have to overcome. Precarious employment was singled out as a major problem in our sector, particularly in light of figures from the University of Auckland’s 2023 gender pay gap report that show “around 52% of academics and 69% of general/professional staff at that institution are employed on fixed term and casual agreements. Even more reason to stand together, as those not impacted by precarity need to stand up for those that are.”

Tumu Whakarae | National President Māori Huhana Watene talked about our track record of success providing hope for the way forward. She said “over the last two years, as a result of all our campaigning, visibility, organising and positive change, we have increased our membership by 10%, welcoming new TEU members who have seen us as a strong, active, campaigning union where they can contribute. Results come from power. Change comes from power. And unions exist to give power to workers. So that’s what we must all continue to do.”

Te Pou Ahurei | National Secretary Dr Sandra Grey followed up with an overview of the work ahead and a call to action on the union’s biggest priorities – pay in the university sector, pay in Te Pūkenga, pay in the Wānanga and Pay Equity. “What we want you to understand, vice chancellors and chief executives, is you must start putting people first - making sure that you are putting the vast majority of the public monies entrusted to you into staffing.”

Over the ensuing day and a half, over the course of remit sessions, caucuses and workshops, the union discussed and debated plans for collective agreement negotiations and how we would go about tackling funding issues and the spending priorities of institutions.

The conference ended on a high when a mock action was called at short notice. Delegates had 20 minutes to prepare for a mass demonstration in support of the Living Wage complete with logistics, health and safety, speech writing, media interviews, chants, signs, and even a flash mob!

After the planning, delegates took to the streets and had a great time demonstrating that planning for action does not need to be long or arduous and the results can be fun!

Dr Sandra Grey says “we hope all those who attended return to their branches reinvigorated and will spread the news that working together from Kaitaia to Invercargill we will keep building our future with collective action.”

Also in this update:

Other stories:

More than half of workers report severe burnout, driven by job insecurity – RNZ

Students suffer while Vice Chancellor sidesteps – TEU

More than 500 courses cut from Massey University – RNZ

Images from TEU Conference 2024 – Flickr