Dear NTEU 

Let my first act as elected President be to wish you and your loved ones a fulfilling festive season and let us be reminded to treasure every moment with each other.  

This past year was truly a trying one for the NTEU family.  Together we mourned the loss of one of our cornerstone members, Quinten Booysen, as well as tragedies that struck many of our members in their personal lives.  

As NEC we had to make some very difficult decisions affecting specific branches, members and leaders. 2019 has been the year NTEU was tested in terms of our willingness to protect the integrity of our organisation’s values.  It has been a year that tested character and commitment.  NTEU’s commitment to root out corruption and unethical behaviour was measured when these trends where discovered within our own ranks and, where in the past we were protected by this document, it now fell upon us to protect the NTEU Constitution and abide by the directives and values captured within it.  There has been criticism, disagreements and battles.

However, though there were trials NTEU also saw growth.  Just last month NTEU obtained organising rights at the University of Venda, establishing our national footprint in 18 universities.  At the recent Congress, hosted by our colleagues at TUT, we were joined by the Deputy President of Egitim Bir Sen, the largest trade union in Turkey.  

Through several social justice and youth focused engagements the international community has noted NTEU as an organisation that is changing the landscape of unionism and as “a union to watch”.  Relationships with sector stakeholders as well as the Department for Higher Education, Science and Technology (DHEST) have deepened reaffirming NTEU as the voice of reason within higher education.

As we step into 2020, we mark the coming year as The Year of Expansion.  The 2019 Congress theme of Empower, Equip & Engage was deliberate for, over and above intensive targets for member growth, emphasis will be placed on providing training opportunities to add value for NTEU members on a wider scope.  FEDUSA has committed to several training events on the 4th industrial revolution to help us identify how, when and where this will impact the higher education sector.  There will be opportunities for our members to increase their knowledge on legislation impacting them in the workplace.  These courses will not only deepen members’ understanding about their rights, but will empower those who are suffering under oppressive management styles.  NTEU’s continued pioneering beyond historic union activities will open doors for members to partner in seeing justice beyond the workplace and the holistic wellness of university staff will be a key value.

Next year will be a milestone year where we celebrate 10 years of NTEU protecting and advancing rights and values within the sector. Countless lives have been affected by those who have raised their hands to defend staff in desperate need. To those colleagues, I salute you.  And now as we put 2019 behind us, taking from it lessons learnt and resilience strengthened, join me in welcoming the challenges and opportunities of 2020, together creating universities we can be proud of!  


Xolani Tom

NTEU National President


NTEU is a politically non-aligned trade union organizing exclusively in the Higher Education sector and is aligned to FEDUSA, the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa.