One thing that three TEU national committees had in common last week was their drive to make tertiary education a better place to work and study.

Last week, over February 16, 17, and 18, Industrial and Professional Committee (IPC), Te Toi Ahurangi, and National Women’s Committee (NWC) members held their first meetings of 2021, providing an opportunity to welcome new members, reconnect and reaffirm their shared vision and goals for the next two years.

Our TEU whāinga – tātou, tātou e – and the notion of using our collective strength to improve working conditions for those more vulnerable in the sector was evident across all committee meetings, with addressing increasing workloads also an issue of importance.

NWC members were energised and looking forward to the next two years, working with the TEU Gender Equity Strategy 2020-2023, and tackling the issue of gender equity in their workplaces and across the sector.

For NWC member Claudia Gonnelli, a key means of dealing with major problems in the sector will require the valuing of all staff, and a renewed focus on promoting wellbeing,

“We need to reinforce the importance of general staff and ensure that if there is more emphasis on well-being, there is also an increase in the financial resources and human capabilities allocated to achieve it”.

For IPC members, a full day of discussions ranged across the ongoing work of the committee: the Industrial Strategy review, submission on the MBIE bullying document, and Te Pūkenga Operational Strategy.

For IPC member Warwick Anderson, ‘fairness’ in the workplace was cited as the most important guide to TEU’s work. Anderson says a key solution for dealing with some of the sector’s major problems will be our collective efforts to address ‘least-cost accounting’,

“We need to be a voice which counters ‘least-cost’ and the selling-off of jobs through a reinforcement of the values of TEU and the educational experience”.

Te Toi Ahurangi kōmiti members were thrilled to learn that their long-term strategy to reach 1000 Māori members was successfully realised earlier this month, with Te Uepū members representing 10% of the TEU membership. Reaching 1000 members is a milestone when kaimahi Māori across the tertiary sector only account for 8% of the workforce.

Kōmiti members identified there is still more mahi needed to get the sector and union closer to the national population of 16% Māori, but the milestone represents a win – a ngā piki moment – for the kōmiti and recruitment efforts.

Citing discussions that ranged from a refreshing of the TEU Whitestreaming report, research on Mana Tangata, Mana Mahi, Te Pūkenga, the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry (WAI 2700), and Hui-ā-Rohe 2021, TEU Pou Tuarā Lee Cooper says kōmiti members are reinvigorated  and looking forward to what will be a busy two years.