Education union election: it’s just comrades conversing

All is amity at the NSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says, state secretary Michael Thomson.

Mr Thomson is backing president of the UTS branch, Vince Caughley, in the election for the union’s deputy national secretary while new federal president Alison Barnes (Macquarie U) supports WA official Gabe Gooding. “I am happy to support Alison and Vince,” Mr Thomson says.

Observers say this is not as contradictory as it sounds – that the NSW branch leadership is interested in setting strategy rather than splitting the national leadership. Given Mr Caughley’s low national profile his beating Ms Gooding, who led the long bargaining campaign at Murdoch U, seems unlikely. But running gives him and his state allies an opportunity to push for a new approach to enterprise bargaining based on industrial action, rather than negotiations with managements that run from one year to the next.

“Vince is reaching out to widen the conversation,” a union-watcher says. Victorian state secretary Colin Long, running for re-election makes the same point, saying “must speed up our ability to reach agreements to ensure that bargaining teams and members don’t experience fatigue.”


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