When are the elections?

Voting starts on Wednesday 3rd August and goes until Monday 29th August. You will receive a postal ballot in the mail.

When do I need to sort out my details by?

The NTEU hasn’t made this clear, and so we are urging all members to check and update their membership and details ASAP.

What do you make of the Jobs Protection Framework of 2020?

Due to the effects of the pandemic on the economy we agree that the union needed to take action to protect university workers’ jobs and conditions, however, we believe that the Jobs Protection Framework that was negotiated in 2020 was a betrayal of the membership. The union leadership should not conspire with university management to cut jobs and salaries. We believed then and now that it is the union’s responsibility to challenge every single proposed job cut from university management and to scrutinize any change proposals that would impact members negatively.

What’s your position on transphobia?

Sadly, this is a very relevant question to be asking in the context of NTEU elections. The A New NTEU team believes that trans rights are union business and that robustly contesting transphobia in all its forms is crucial to vibrant and effective unionism. We do not believe that a notion of academic freedom should be used to defend transphobic speech or ideas and we believe it is a travesty that trans people have been made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in the NTEU.

We also think it’s noteworthy that problems in the NTEU in relation to transphobia have always come from senior staff and officials and not from the membership. Whenever members have been given a chance to vote on questions of trans inclusion and affirmation they have enthusiastically done so. Every problem we have faced thus far would be solved by allowing members the democratic determination of their union that they deserve.

We also believe that solidarity in the face of transphobia needs to look like concrete action rather than rhetoric.

Anastasia’s actions on this issue:

Universities in Australia have been struggling for a long time. How can new union leadership help?

Most Universities in Australia have not actually been struggling as much as they have made themselves out to be in the past few years - for example the University of Sydney recently recorded a $1billion profit. A strong, organizing union with new leadership at the helm will be able to build the strength of the workers so that we have the power not only to demand significant improvements to our pay and working conditions, but to demand that the program of privatization, which we know is detrimental to all aspects of university life, is reversed.

What should the union do about casuals being systemically underpaid?

We have two priorities in terms of dealing with the systemic exploitation of casual workers in the university. In the first instance, we will prosecute any and all instances of wage theft using whatever mechanisms are available to us in order to win back-pay and wage justice for our casual colleagues. Alongside this, we also intend to push for the decasualisation of the higher education sector, since underpayment of casual staff is not an aberration but rather a fundamental pillar of the system. Only by addressing the root cause of insecure work can we prevent further underpayment of casual staff. Decasualization will be achieved through a combination of solid improvements to casual pay and conditions, thereby disincentivising casualization, as well as demanding for more permanent work.

How can the union help get secure jobs for workers?

The union must re-orient itself towards organizing our members and recruiting all non-members, so that on any given campus the vast majority of workers are in the union. This will give us the power we need to take the necessary industrial action to challenge job insecurity, and most importantly, to win that fight.

I don’t see much of the NTEU on my campus. What will change if Anastasia, Andrew and Fahad are elected?

Currently the representative bodies of the NTEU are in a dilapidated state. The delegate structure is almost non-existent, and many positions on university branch committees are simply not filled. One of our primary goals is to reorient the union towards organizing all university workers, and that means having a strong, active and trusted delegate structure and branch committee system. We aim to have every worker involved in the activities of the union through regular contact with an active union delegate and active involvement in their local branch committee.

Academics already have it pretty good. What does the union need to fight for?

Though it may look good on paper, most academic staff members will likely tell you that this does not reflect the reality of working in the modern university. Workload models that seem generous rarely reflect the amount of time academics actually spend in order to meet their responsibilities. Overwork and underpayment is standard in this industry. In addition, the union represents not only academics but professional/administrative staff as well who face similar pressures and expectations to go above and beyond what they are paid for. Regardless of their vocation, we want every worker in the higher education sector to have a fair and equitable working environment in which they are adequately paid for all the work they do.

The union can’t change federal funding arrangements, right? What can we meaningfully do?

Though the union cannot change federal funding arrangements, we can play a vital role in keeping universities accountable in terms of their obligations as employers. We fundamentally believe in the necessity of a fully-funded higher education sector but also find it disingenuous for universities to suggest that they cannot fairly remunerate or retain their staff when they continue to report huge surpluses every financial year. Additionally, a powerful, high-density union will have greater ability to impact the level of federal funding in the sector.

It looks like our union is doing what it can within its limitations. What else could it do?

The union is certainly not doing all it can at the moment - we do not have active and thriving delegates in all work areas, and member engagement is extremely low. We firmly believe in a democratic approach to unionism and want to give our delegates and activists the resources that they need to secure better working conditions for their colleagues. Alongside this, we believe that the union can make better use of the latent expertise and passion of our membership by engaging them in a more open, transparent, and accessible manner.

What’s your stance on academic freedom and university autonomy?

Academic freedom is a fundamental component of research and the discovery of knowledge and the union must defend it. However, a firm distinction should be drawn between the right to engage in bigotry or hate speech under the guise of intellectual discourse.

What can the union do about heavy workloads for academic staff?

To begin with, enforce the workload provisions that are already in place! Part of the problem of heavy workloads at the moment is the unfair expectation that academic staff are expected to work above and beyond their allocated hours as part of the current status quo. With the help of an engaged membership, we will also be able to secure fairer workloads during enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Industrial action sounds risky. How do you propose we approach it?

We believe in a staged approach to industrial action that involves constantly building up strength towards majority and supermajority membership and taking industrial action corresponding to the strength of the membership at a given moment. In this way the confidence of the workers is built up at every step. We believe that we must take industrial action that we know we can win in order to make gains for ourselves as workers. Moreover, unlike the current leadership we intend to utilise the sizeable defence fund the union has available to ensure that our membership are not disadvantaged by taking industrial action.

What political parties/organisations is Anastasia a part of?

Anastasia is a founding member of CUPUW and still attends meetings whenever she can.

Other than that she’s not a member of any political parties or organisations

What can I do to help this campaign?

A very easy first step is to put a poster on your door or a signature on your email (or both!) to let people that you work with know that you’re voting for change in the NTEU. Check the resources page for options. We have lots more ideas so sign up via this page so we can get in touch.

Something else you wanted to ask? Please submit here.