Aren't I automatically a member when I start work?

No, you have to make an active decision to join the Union. It’s simple to join  and you can withdraw your membership at any time

Does the union assist people who haven't joined?

If an issue arises before you have joined it is unlikely that we will be able to assist you. The NTEU policy on this is here  . We can provide limited advice and help, and in circumstances where the issue is also one that we are working on for members, or where it may provide a strong precedent to assist members, we may be able to provide assistance and representation. 

If you are not yet a member and need help@work Join Now  and use the Help@Work form to see what we can do for you. You must join before we can consider providing any level of support.

How do I join?

Go to the Join page  and fill out the simple form. It's easy and quick.

What are the payment options?

You can pay fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually depending on your payment method. You can pay direct from your salary by payroll deduction, by direct debit, by credit card, BPay or by invoice. 

How does a union protect me in my workplace?

As a union member you are never alone when trouble strikes. We have your back. If you have to attend a meeting with your boss about a problem at work, your local Workplace Union Representative might go with you to the meeting to ensure you are treated respectfully and fairly. If the matter is not resolved the Union may take legal action to defend you (depending on the circumstances) and if you have been under-paid we will take your employer to the Fair Work Commission or pursue the matter in the courts to ensure all staff are paid correctly. If anything associated with your employment goes wrong we are there to provide you with advice and assistance. 

The Union also takes a strong stand against bullying and harassment and provides support for members who find themselves targeted by this unacceptable behaviour. 

How much does it cost?

Members have decided that the fee for continuing and fixed-term workers will be 1% of your gross annual salary, meaning someone earning $65,000 per year will pay $650 (before tax). This allows us to have a well-funded, strong union to support members in the workplace. Fees for casuals are much lower. The principle behind the fee is that the more you earn the more you pay, so that those who can most afford to contribute support to those who can’t. 

As a not-for-profit organisation, we put all our resources back into improving working conditions to members, defending them in the workplace, and campaigning for a better tertiary education for all. 

Employees who working as casual or sessional staff, or who are currently unemployed pay a reduced rate. Membership for postgraduate students, which includes access to communications and union activities is free.

Who can join?

We are academic teachers and researchers, we are administrators, accountants, technicians, student support workers, librarians, scientists, gardeners and almost any profession in tertiary education you can think of.

We are employed as casuals, sessionals, in ongoing roles or on short-term contracts, full-time or part-time.

While the Union’s rules are complex and detailed, they can be summarised quite simply. You can join if you work in, or associated with, higher education (universities, private providers, research institutes and student associations), or if you work in TAFE as a professional or general staff member (sometimes known as PACTT staff) or Adult and Community Ed in Victoria.

If you are a postgraduate student who is not working in tertiary education, you can join and receive union publications and communications for free. You can also join if you would normally work in tertiary education and are currently unemployed.

Why should I join?

We believe that everyone should join their unions. Unions have campaigned for and won the important working conditions that we enjoy today; annual leave, parental leave, sick leave, workers compensation to provide for you if you are injured at work, weekends, and a host of other rights. Union campaigning led to equal pay for women, Medicare, and superannuation to provide for your retirement. By joining your union you help to make your own, and the working lives of others better, you bring about positive change, your voice can be heard, and you are protected at work.

What is a union?

A union is an organised group of workers who collectively use their strength to raise issues and have a voice in the workplace.  The most important strength of a union is its members, and members participate in building that strength by supporting each other.  

Using the collective strength and influence of each other, union members have helped improve working conditions and won important changes for people in the workforce including annual leave, workers compensation, parental leave, superannuation, and sick pay. 

Being part of a union helps to protect your rights at work and to access advice and support from experts and workplace delegates. 
As a union member, you gain strength and bargaining power from the collective influence of the union. Instead of an individual representing yourself, the union acts as a collective body of workers representing your best interests and the interests of other workers. 

What do you do for members?

NTEU is its members, the union does not have a separate identity and everything that we do for members is funded by and determined by members through their elected representatives. Union membership gives you an opportunity to be part of a group that works for positive change in our workplaces and our communities. Should you ever get into trouble at work, union membership means that there is someone there to help and provide you with knowledgeable and professional advice.  

Does NTEU help members outside of work?

Our union is a community that gathers together to help each other. For example we provide some financial assistance to members who are impacted by natural disasters such as bushfires and floods. We also provide membership benefits such as free legal consultations that help members when they are in need of legal advice whatever the topic. 

Are union fees tax deductible?

Yes. In the example of the worker whose annual salary is $65,000, their tax would reduce by $211.25, meaning the fees for the year would be $438.75 (subject to other tax arrangements). 

What if my supervisor is a member. Can I still be a member?

Yes. The Union has a policy that if you need help at work and the issue involves your supervisor or manager acting in their professional role, the Union does not provide them with assistance, as they are acting as an agent of your employer and are therefore rightly represented by the employer.

If the issue involves your supervisor or manager acting in a personal capacity or it is a complaint against their behaviour, we provide assistance to both parties with strict separation of the two sides. Each will be provided with a different representative who will not collude or cooperate with the other unless it is in the best interests of both sides to negotiate and the members have agreed.

What do unions do?

Unions provide a way for workers to support each other and to work together to their working lives. Members negotiate pay increases and key working conditions, support each other when problems arise in the workplace, and lobby for changes that will benefit workers. Members pay fees which collectively allows them to employ expert staff to provide training and support to allow members to build a stronger union. Paid staff also assist with industrial issues, workplace campaigns and support for members.

Can I join if I'm not an Australian citizen?

Yes, you can join if you are not an Australian citizen. We have many members who are in Australia working on various types of visas.

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About NTEU


How can I find out who my leaders are?

If you are a member, you can find this information in your member portal here . The National and Division leaders can be found here or you can send us an email to find out.

How can I find my Rep?

When you sign into your member portal, you can see who the Workplace Union Rep is for your workplace/work group. Please introduce yourself in the workplace. Reps love having conversations with the members they represent, and it helps to keep them informed of developments in the workplace and the views of members. If you can’t see a Workplace Rep listed, then please contact your Branch Organiser as there may be a vacancy that you can fill! 

How often are elections held?

Depending on the position, elections are held every 2 or 4 years.  

All members are advised when union elections are approaching, and everyone can nominate for a position who is eligible.  For example, if the position if for a casual representative in a particular Branch all casual members who are from that Branch are eligible to nominate but not casuals from other Branches or people who are not employed on a casual basis. If it is a National Salaried Officer position, any member can nominate. 

To find out more about NTEU elections go to the NTEU Rules

Who votes in elections?

All financial members can vote in union elections, and we encourage everyone to participate. A strong democratic process makes for a stronger union. 

What is a Workplace Union Representative?

A workplace union rep (also known as delegate) is an official workplace representative of NTEU members endorsed and often elected by the NTEU members in the area they work or who do the same type of work. Workplace Reps receive training and comply with our Privacy Policy. 

What do Workplace Representatives do?

Workplace Reps are the heart of the NTEU. They are the first point of contact for members with questions about their working conditions. They are also the face of the Union, providing members with the latest information about campaigns such as enterprise bargaining, and informing the NTEU Branch of any problems arising in the area. Workplace Reps welcome new staff to the workplace, explain the role of the NTEU, support members with problems, and encourage new staff to join. They put up union posters, distribute union materials and contribute to Branch bulletins. In short, Workplace Reps are the Union! 

Workplace Reps receive training from NTEU and ongoing support and development opportunities.
If there is no Workplace Rep in your work area, think about becoming one and have a chat with your Organiser about you can help the Union and your workmates.

How are NTEU leaders selected?

Our leaders at all three levels are elected by the membership at that level, with local leaders also contributing at Division and National Level.  
We also have dedicated elected leaders for professional staff, academic staff, casual employees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members. 

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My supervisor is a member, can you still help me?

Yes we can. If at some point you end up in dispute with your supervisor we will follow our policy on dealing with member to member disputes, which put simply is: if the dispute as about them in their supervisory role, the employer represents them; if it is personal in character you are both assisted with strict confidentiality and no exchange of information between the advocates assisting you.

How do I contact the union for help?

If you are a member, use the Help@Work page of your member portal. If you are not yet a member, we may be able to help you but only if you join now and you can contact us here .

When should I ask for help?

You should ask for help if there is a risk to your health and safety or that of anyone else, including to mental health; when your employment has been, or is about to be, terminated; if you are called to a meeting with your supervisor, a manager, or human resources; if someone has made or threatened to make a complaint about you; when you have been denied leave; if you believe you may have been underpaid; or in any other circumstance at work that you are unsure about. If you are a member read further information and tips on your Help@Work page.

If unsure contact your local Workplace Representative whose details can be found in the My Contacts page of your member portal.

I need help, what do I do?

If you are a member and you need help (or even if you are unsure whether you do need help) please login and go to the Help@Work page where you will find advice and a link to seek assistance.

If you are not yet a member, then join now.  While we do not generally provide representation to people who are not members, we may be able to provide you with some basic advice, and in occasional circumstances may be able to provide representation if your matter is one that we are already working on for others (e.g. mass underpayment), or where it may set an important and useful precedent for members.

You can find our policy on representation here .

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Our Key Issues

Our Key Issues

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What is Work, Health and Safety?

WHS is the system that protects you at work and stops your employer from putting you in dangerous situations. When implemented properly, WHS systems minimise the risks of workers being injured at work, either physical or mental injury. It provides workers with rights to stop working where there is a clear danger to health and safety and gives WHS Representatives powers to enforce the Act and direct work to stop if it’s dangerous.

What are my rights to safe work?

Every staff member should be able to work in a safe environment and be able to return home from work alive and well. Workers have the right to stop work if they form the genuine view that the work is unsafe. If a Library checkout machine suddenly started spouting flames, the library staff would not be expected to just keep working! They would stop working until the hazard had been removed or sufficient protection had been put in place to prevent the risk of injury. Some unsafe work will be less obvious, but the threat may be just as real.

Are mental health and safety covered by WHS Laws?

Mental health and stress are just like any other form of injury. They affect us mentally and physically and can have long-term consequences for our health if left unaddressed. For example, people experiencing bullying and/or harassment, or workers continually being forced to work unreasonable hours, can develop serious psychosocial injuries that can have devastating consequences. Bullying and harassment and ridiculous work demands are hazards, just like radioactive materials and live viruses.

What are the recognised psychosocial (mental health) hazards?

The psychosocial hazards that give rise to the risk of mental health injuries in the workplace are:

  • High Job demands – such as excessive work and high workloads
  • Low job demands – such as too little to do or monotonous tasks
  • Low job control – where workers have little say in how their work is performed
  • Poor support – where there is a lack of support, including training
  • Poor workplace relationships – occur when there is conflict, bullying, harassment, lack of fairness and equity 
  • Low job clarity – when conflicting demands lead to uncertainty Poor organisational change management – where there is little consideration of the health aspects, and inadequate consultation and communication
  • Low recognition and reward – such as lack of positive feedback
  • Poor organisational justice – such as unfairness in procedures such as bias
  • Poor environmental conditions – where the workplace is hazardous due to noise, dust, chemicals etc.
  • Remote work – where there are long travel times
  • Isolated work – where the employee is isolated from support structures and others
  • Violent or traumatic events – such as suicide and vicarious trauma

What are the main health and safety hazards in tertiary education?

In certain areas of TAFEs and universities there are clear, physical hazards such as chemicals, forklifts, radioactive materials, blowtorches etc. However, our experience is that psychosocial hazards like stress, overwork, bullying and intimidation are the most common WHS hazards in tertiary education. A significant risk that could be easily removed is poorly managed change management processes that clearly produce stress and anxiety for workers. Another is unfairness and bias in decision making, especially around work allocations, access to development opportunities and even working hours.

How is safety in my workplace regulated?

Each State and Territory has a WHS Act (or OHS in Victoria) that regulates safety in all workplaces. The Acts in all states and territories except Victoria and WA were made uniform in the 2010s. The Victoria and WA Acts while not uniform, contain the same basic provisions. The Acts require the employer to establish a system of local Health and Safety Representatives and WHS Committees to ensure that WHS matters are dealt with as and when they arise (or hopefully beforehand). These are elected positions and committees and NTEU members can and should get involved.

Who can be a HSR?

Anyone who is an employee of the university, college, institute etc. You do not need to have any special skills, and you do not need to be in secure employment.

How is a HSR chosen?

Workers can ask their employer to conduct an election for an HSR. The employer cannot refuse this request unless there is already a HSR for your work area. The employer is then also required to provide 5 days of training for the HSR at the provider of the HSRs choosing. We can provide you with information and guidance if you are interested in becoming an HSR.

How can I find my HSR?

Your employer should have a list of HSRs publicly available. If you can’t find the list, then contact your NTEU Workplace Rep and who can help you or l request one from your employer. Odds are that if there isn’t a publicly available list, there isn’t a HSR for your area. If you are a member, you can look on your My Contacts  page where we try to keep updated contacts for HSRs.

I don't have a HSR. What should I do?

Talk to your local Workplace Rep about requesting an election. Hold a meeting of NTEU members in the area/role and see if anyone is prepared to put their hand up for the role, maybe even you. The Workplace Rep/Branch can help you to formally request an election. Win the election, do the training and then start making the workplace safer for you and your co-workers.

How does the union support HSRs?

The Union supports HSRs with advice and assistance when WHS matters arise in their workgroup, including formally assisting the HSR to resolve issues with the employer and the WHS Regulator. We are also developing HSR networks where union members who are HSRs can exchange information and support each other. NTEU offers training opportunities, updates and resources, and always defends any HSR for whom there is any suggestion of adverse treatment as a result of performing their important safety duties.

What is a HSR?

HSR stands for Health and Safety Representatives. 

A HSR is the elected representative of workers in a work area who consults with workers on health and safety and advocates on their behalf. The HSR role includes consultation with workers, participation in health and safety decision making, inspection of workplaces, and keeping management held to account for the health and safety impacts of decisions.

They have powers under the various WHS Acts to enter the workplace to inspect it for hazards, refer matters to regulator, to participate in any inspections by regulators, and if necessary to order that work cease. HSRs are afforded strong protection by the legislation, the duties can be conducted during working hours and should be offset through reduction in other work allocations, and they can request the assistance of any person to perform their role. Many HSRs request assistance from the Union.

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What are rights and entitlements?

Rights and entitlements are things that by law you are required to experience or receive at work. For example, you have a right to work in a healthy and safe environment and you have an entitlement to four weeks annual leave. Many of the rights and entitlements you have at work are defined in your enterprise agreement, which is why it is such an important document.

How are my working conditions determined?

All workers in Australia have minimum employment conditions as set out in the National Employment Standards (NES). These set the floor for almost everyone, including staff in the tertiary education sector. Read more

What is an enterprise agreement?

An enterprise agreement is an agreement negotiated between the employer and workers to govern the working conditions, pay and entitlements of workers. Read more  

What is my contract of employment?

Your contract of employment is the terms of your employment agreed between you and your employer when you start a job, which can be changed later by agreement. Read more  

What is the difference between ongoing, fixed terms, casual and sessional employment?

Ongoing, or continuing, employment is employment where there is no end-date set at the start of the job. It used to be known as tenured employment. Read more  

Why is my job a fixed term contract?

If you work in a university your job can only be a fixed-term contract if it meets certain categories, such as externally funded research or work that is replacing another employee on leave. If your work is fixed-term you should contact us to check whether it should be ongoing employment. Use the Help@Work page to seek advice.

What is an industrial issue?

Industrial in the union context simply means anything to do with or pertaining to your working conditions and your rights. Industrial Officers specialise in resolving industrial issues.  Sometimes members will bring a problem to us relating to their work and we will say that it is “not an industrial issue.” All the means is that the problem is not something that can be rectified with action under your enterprise agreement or in a commission or court of law. This does not mean that it is not a real issue, it simply means that we have to use other methods to resolve it. They may include organising a group complaint, writing letters, lobbying or campaigning.

What rights do casual and sessional employees have?

Casual and sessional employees have most of the core rights of all other employees including to safe workplaces, payment at the correct rate, right to consultation etc. The big exceptions are access to paid leave (sick, annual, parental etc) and a right to continuing employment unless they meet very specific criteria.

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