A Vision for a New NTEU

A New NTEU is built upon a vision for our union and for our universities in which the union is synonymous with the members, and the members synonymous with the union. We believe in direct democracy of rank-and-file workers, deep organising, accountability, transparency, and collective strike action as the bread and butter of unionism. We hope this working vision document demonstrates our principles and that it further develops through struggle at our workplaces and in our union. We hope that presenting a strong, radical vision based on struggle not only inspires tertiary education workers, but inspires all unionists aspiring to rebuild a fighting workers’ union movement in so-called Australia, in solidarity with workers across the world.

For the union, we believe structurally:

  1. That we must recognize and commit to fighting for Indigenous sovereignty and liberation - all union work takes place on stolen land through stolen lives and labour.
  2. That our weapon against the for-profit university system, which fundamentally relies on the exploitation of its workers, is the withdrawal of our labour.
  3. That democratic decision making is the key way to organise in a union. Decisions by rank-and-file members should be carried out by the executive after extensive democratic debate. Collective action is only effective if it is driven by members. We are committed to the already existing democratic processes within the union which are currently inconsistently applied.
  4. In strong techniques built on tried-and-tested labour organising tactics of historically powerful high-density unions. Delegates should be provided with stronger tools to organise members, and our union should place full trust in its members and organisers to unionise and fight for workplaces.
  5. In total transparency and accountability in the union. Our union should have open finances and member input, criticism and accountability procedures right up to the highest level of operation.
  6. That the union leadership are completely committed and inseparable from the membership through actions such as proportionate wages and mechanisms of direct accountability.

And believe specifically:

  1. That we should be an independent union unaffiliated with mainstream political parties - we serve workers, not politicians, and we are against compromise and concession in backroom deals with management in all its forms.
  2. That we have solidarity with workers across the world and total support for workers movements and nations. We are not free until all workers are free - from Palestine to Aotearoa.
  3. That Indigenous workers should be empowered by the union against the institutional racism of settler-colonial capitalism, and that we stand in full support for grassroots Indigenous organisations on the frontline.
  4. That we stand and fight with trans workers as comrades who are welcome, respected and fought with as a fundamental part of union. Trans lives are never up for debate.
  5. That we stand firmly against sexism on university campuses and in the union.
  6. That we stand for disability justice and against ableism in all its forms.
  7. That we stand against exploitation of international students for profit.
  8. That we stand with refugees against the racist border regime of Australia.
  9. That policy which is presented by caucuses and passed by National Council is committed to by the leadership and enforced.
  10. That we commit to the education of union members about the nature of the structurally exploitative relationship between workers and bosses.

For the university, we structurally want:

  1. Workers to control how teaching, learning and research is structured and delivered. i.e. control over the very functioning of the university itself.
  2. An end to the neoliberal university system. A university system that serves the public with heavily increased government funding can only be won through union struggle.
  3. An end to institutionalised racism, hiring of permanent Indigenous workers, and a deep commitment to anti-racism beyond tokenistic policies. Solidarity must be ingrained at universities.
  4. General democratic decision making in the workplace that is facilitated by local branches instead of through unaccountable managers. Open finances of university chancellors and management.
  5. To acknowledge the diversionary tactic university management uses in the relationship between precarious and permanent workers: the workplace conditions of one fundamentally impact the other, and vice versa.
  6. To force management to implement awards and agreements that have already been won, while simultaneously pushing for more wins.
  7. A commitment to health and safety: COVID safety protocols, tackling stress, overwork, racism, transphobia, institutional bullying & other sources of misery and psychological damage for workers.

And specifically want:

  1. Secure jobs for all and dignity and respect at work.
  2. An end to wage theft and overwork.
  3. Immediate application of all permanent & fixed term benefits applied to casual workers.
  4. The raising of wages to well above inflation rates, i.e. real wage increases.
  5. The end to discriminatory non-renewal practices of union members who organise at their workplaces.
  6. Full support for Indigenous methodologies at universities and cultural leave to ingrained at all universities.
  7. Full support for trans and queer workers and gender affirmation leave to be ingrained at all universities.
  8. The end of support from fossil fuel corporations, arms dealers and right-wing reactionary organisations such as the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.
  9. The end of exploitation of students for profit and a general empowering of and consultation with students – free education should be provided for all students.
  10. The implementation of progressive radical education that empowers students and workers to think structurally, critically and to take action.