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Positive Results From Sixth Round of AUT/NATFHE Talks

Union officials say they are one step closer to forming what would be the largest post-16 trade education trade union in the world. The sixth round of intensive talks between the AUT and NATFHE produced positive results on both sides. Secretary Generals from both sides of the table, Sally Hunt and Paul Mackney said, “Agreement has been reached on the key principles which will drive the new union forward. These are based on the broad common concerns and approaches of the two unions to policy and industrial strategy in recent years.”

One of the biggest roadblocks to a merger between the two groups is the issue of regional representation. Within NATFHE, they send delegates and motions to national conference. In contrast, AUT local associations alone participate in AUT Council. Hunt and Mackney declared, “We have sought a compromise which makes the best of both traditions, recognizes the important work done by regional committees in both unions, formalizes what such committees might do and, most importantly, gives some security to those who worry that this important work will be diluted in any new union.”

The next set of talks is set for March 2nd. The meeting will finalize the structures of the National Executive Committee and National Congress, and arrangements for organization of membership. If the proposals are agreed, members would be balloted in autumn 2005. Following the vote, the new potential union would then come into existence in 2006.

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Brooke Van Dam

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