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.

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. 

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 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

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.

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. 

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. 

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 the Women's Action Committee (WAC)?

The Women’s Action Committee is the body set up to represent women and to provide policy advice to the Union on matters relating to women, including equity, discrimination and affirmative action.

Who are the members of the Women's Action Committee?

The WAC is comprised of an academic and a general/professional representative, nominated by each State or Territory (Division).  The NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee (A&TSIPC) also nominates an academic and general/professional staff representative to be on the WAC.  Members of the WAC are appointed for three yearly, rotating terms, after which the Divisions or A&TSIPC may wish to renew or appoint new representatives.

The President of the NTEU is the Chair of the WAC, with the National Assistant Secretary acting as Deputy Chair.

Divisions are asked to ensure there is at least one staff member to assist their WAC representatives and to support organising, campaigning and recruitment activities of their Division-based local women's networks. National Office staff also support national WAC activities.

You can find the current membership here.

What are the main issues for women in tertiary education?

According to the NTEU’s State of the Uni Sector surveys (2019 and 2020), the main issues for women in tertiary education include job security, workloads, access to flexible work, work health and safety, and career progression.

Academic women staff in our 2020 survey were very concerned about the loss of work opportunities coming from increased workloads and other covid impacts, while professional/general and research only women respondents were more concerned about job security. Women in research were particularly pessimistic, with just over 60% saying they felt that it was unlikely they would be able to maintain their employment in the sector over the next three years (compared to around 51% of men).

These fears are not without foundation. While higher education is a feminised industry (58% of all higher education workers are women), COVID related job losses affected more women proportionally than men, with 61% of job losses affecting women (Australia Institute, 2021) and professional/general staff women bearing the brunt of the redundancy rounds.  Casual staff – where there are higher proportions of women – were also targeted early in the pandemic related job losses.

We also know that women report higher incidents of sexual harassment, sexism and gender-based bias/discrimination, with NTEU’s 2018 survey on sexual harassment in the workplace finding that while one in five respondents had personally experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, with twice as many women (24%) as men (12%) reported personal incidents.

Is there a wage gap in tertiary education?

While 58.6% of workers in higher education are women, there is still a gender pay gap (full time) is 12.7% (WGEA 2022). Men also hold 56% of director positions in higher education organisations, and 74% of chair roles (WGEA 2022).

How are women affected by job insecurity in tertiary education?

The things that affect tertiary education workers are magnified for women.  Job insecurity impacts not only on career progression and financial security, but those who are insecurely employed are more vulnerable to wage theft, sexual harassment, and exploitation. Enforcing professional rights around academic freedom and research independence is almost impossible. While this is problematic for all workers who do not have job security – noting that only one in three staff working in our universities are securely employed – for women, it is especially problematic. Women have borne the brunt of redundancies and layoffs, and this will have ramifications for women workers not only now, but in the longer term.

Job insecurity has an impact on superannuation savings. On average, women workers retire with around half the superannuation balance of men and those who are insecurely employed have significantly less in super savings.  

In addition, the federal government’s pandemic response of allowing those who lost hours or employment early access to superannuation (noting that this was one of the few supports available to casual higher education workers during the pandemic) was also taken up by far more women than men.  In 2021 UniSuper paid more than 8500 members over $65 million as part of the federal government's early access to superannuation scheme – this is bound to have an impact on the quality of life of women in retirement.

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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 the 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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