Australian university union leaders quit amid escalating sellouts


Australian university union leaders quit amid escalating sellouts

Mike Head

22 August 2018

After presiding over a series of betrayals of university workers, the two top officials of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) are standing aside and backing the installation of a more openly pro-management leadership.

Both the national secretary, Grahame McCulloch, who has held the post at either the NTEU or its predecessor union for 35 years, and national president Jeannie Rea, there for eight years, have resigned. According to McCulloch, their aim was to “encourage leadership renewal of the union at all levels.”

The simultaneous departure points to a significant crisis within the university trade union. Disaffection among university staff is growing as the union assists managements to impose government funding cuts via real wage reductions, greater casualisation and heavier workloads.

Since the NTEU was formed in 1993 to enforce the regressive “enterprise bargaining” system, introduced by the Keating Labor government, the union has participated in transforming the country’s public universities into corporatised institutions, serving the narrow profit interests of employers and the corporate elite.

Like all the other trade unions in Australia, the NTEU has used enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) to split university employees according to their individual workplaces, suppress industrial action and subordinate them to the profit demands of university administrations.

Over the past decade this process has only accelerated, since the NTEU backed the last Greens-backed Labor government’s “education revolution.” This so-called “revolution” has forced under-funded universities to compete with each other to enrol high-fee paying students, attract…

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