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Networking important benefit of conference: The recent Council of Trade Unions' organising conference was attended by more than 200 union staff and delegates from around the country.

Networking and hearing how other unions had tackled issues such as collective bargaining were among the highlights of the recent three-day Council of Trade Unions' (CTU) organising conference in Auckland.

NZNO's associate industrial services manager, Glenda Alexander, said hearing how other unions, notably the Public Service Association and the New Zealand Education Institute, had approached campaigning and bargaining had been worthwhile. "NZNO is doing equally as well as other unions, but there are other ways of approaching things, for example digital campaigning, that we can learn from."

A side benefit of the conference was having many of NZNO's industrial staff in the same place at the same time and getting away from the frontline for three days, Alexander said.

Its theme was New pathways to building power and 230 people attended.

The conference, the second to be held in New Zealand, wasn't as vibrant or as relevant as the first, according to Alexander, but there were some impressive presentations. One such presentation on the first day was a "pretty challenging one" on racism in New Zealand, given by AUT University academic Heather Came. She is a senior lecturer at Taupu Waiora Centre for Maori Health Research, at AUT's School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies.

Calling out racism

Alexander said the session was thought-provoking and challenged people to call out racism. "We are not so good at calling it out because the average Kiwi is polite and that attitude is entrenched. But that has to change."

A workshop by Jane Carter, of the Australian CTU's (ACTU) organising centre on a framework for organiser education, had a lot of resonance for NZNO, Alexander said. "The framework was designed along the lines of [nursing theorist] Patricia Benner's novice to expert model. Our delegate education model, with its progression through four levels, is similar. The ACTU's framework for organiser education provides a continuous learning platform, similar to our delegate education framework. That was affirming."

The CTU's union development director, Ross Teppett, said the CTU was very pleased with the conference turnout and feedback had been positive. "Bringing a whole lot of union people together ... to think, talk and act on how we can more effectively build working people's power, is a rare opportunity."

From the outset, the CTU had wanted the conference to be "action orientated" and to provide people with the chance to connect with each other "on important ongoing work that will contribute to building working people's power", Teppett said.

Examples of this work included people working on how to provide more "heft and focus" to political campaigning and others who were committed to building sustainable worker/civics learning programmes. Building union capacity and networking to strengthen the CTU at a local level were other examples of this work. "There were many actions which emerged from the conference that will make a lasting impact," he said.

Keynote speakers included the national organiser for the United Kingdom Trade Union Congress, Liverpool-based Carl Roper; co-president of E tO Muriel Tunoho; and lead organiser at the Victoria, Australia, Trades Hall Council, Felicity Sowerbutts.

There were more than 20 conference workshops. Subjects included organising around health and safety issues, organising around feminist issues, deepening relationships with iwi and hapO, tackling the challenges facing Pacific workers and organising migrant workers.

NZNO's campaign adviser, Georgia Choveaux, presented at a workshop on the lessons learned from last year's major state sector industrial campaigns. She focused on NZNO's #HealthNeedsNursing (#HNN) campaign. "#HNN was about putting in place the campaigning framework that would support our bargaining team to secure an offer that was ratifiable, and enhance the organising opportunities for organisers and delegates that bargaining creates."

The next CTU organising conference in New Zealand will be in 2022, with one in Australia before that. *

Report by co-editor Teresa O'Connor

Caption: NZNO's delegation to the organising conference
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Title Annotation:conference coverage
Author:O'Connor, Teresa
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Article Type:Conference news
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:May 1, 2019
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