TEU mourns former Tumu Whakarae Lesley Francey.

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union was extremely saddened to learn of the passing of former National President Lesley Francey last week. Lesley made a huge contribution to the TEU via our Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) branch – first as a representative from the English as a Second Language school, then as Branch President. On a national level she served as a Vice President and as Tumu Whakarae from 2013-2014.

Te Pou Ahurei Takirua – Ahumahi | Assistant National Secretary – Industrial, Irena Brörens, says “Lesley was a long-standing TEU activist and member of ASTE and TEU, Lesley advocated strongly for members’ rights and in particular members on fixed-term agreements as well as for migrant workers and refugees.”

“Lesley was employed on a number of fixed-term agreements and became active in the union to take on this fight for herself and many other casual/fixed-term staff. She challenged the union to do more for these workers and this led to the secure work campaign that TEU continues to run, which has seen many members move to permanent positions.”

“She was a determined and committed member of the MIT negotiating team during collective agreement negotiations, and was a wise and sharp co-advocate who fronted strikes, marches, and rallies.”

A TEU member at MIT during Lesley’s branch presidency, Jeremy Greenbrook-Held says “Lesley was a fantastic teacher, but also an outstanding advocate for workers as the Branch President, and later National President of the Tertiary Education Union. It was our mutual interest in left-wing politics, industrial relations, and workers’ rights that drew us together.”

“Lesley was a force of nature and let nothing get in her way of working for the rights of all workers at MIT. This came to the fore when I was “right-sized” out of my role. Lesley was a constant support during the process, ensuring I got what I was entitled to and nothing was overlooked.”

Kaiwhakahaere | Organiser Jill Jones, a former staff member at MIT and a friend of Lesley’s describes her as “a truly remarkable individual whose strength, courage, and steadfast commitment to defending the rights of others has left an indelible mark on the people who had the privilege of working with her and the many members she assisted.”

“Lesley’s capacity for empathy and genuine care was well known. She would drop everything to support a member in trouble, offering a listening ear, a strong shoulder, and an irreverent and irrepressible sense of humour.”

“Lesley was fearless in defending others. She had a deep-rooted belief in justice and equality. She tackled injustice in the workplace with an unshakable resolve. But despite her fearlessness, Lesley was kind. She was always patient and non-judgemental with people who sought her assistance.”

“Whether through activism or advocacy she used her voice to stand up for members and to challenge the status quo. She was determined to make a difference, and she did. Lesley was and is an inspiration to me and many others. I know how much she was missed after she left MIT. I know that the people who worked with her will never, ever forget her.”