The union representing teachers in tasmania has moved to control what is being said about the union and its officers and by whom, a union insider has told Tasmanian Times.

The moves have been prompted by recent articles on Tasmanian Times about the Tasmanian teachers union elections, in which references were made to leaked documents detailing the salaries of the two senior staff at the union (State President Leanne Wright and state manager Chris Lane), the insider said.

“Following efforts by the union management to track down the source of the ‘leak’, the AEU held a meeting of all its staff who were told that a new policy regarding the use of among other things, the union’s email system was to be implemented.

“Staff were instructed to read and sign a document entitled “IT systems usage policy”. The document contained the following provisions:”

Retrieval of Union related information*** in any format beyond screen based enquiries must be authorised by the State Manager or in her or his absence, an officer to whom this authority has been delegated. The retrieval may take the form of printed reports or labels, merge letters or electronic media.

***Union related information is that which pertains to any AEU member, AEU officer or AEU employee. Statistical data relating to any of these must also be authorised.
Members expect that private details provided to the Union will remain private and only be used for legitimate purposes related to their union membership.
Officers and staff must maintain confidentiality of Union information. Absolute discretion is required in the handling of such information.

“These provisions limit the capacity of union members to obtain information about the management and administration of their union,” says the insider.

“Details of union employee salaries including that of the State Manager are not detailed in the union’s annual financial report, and only a select few members of the union’s executive body have been able to access details of the state manager’s contract.”

In further moves to limit open discussion and debate, the union’s council which met on 13th November discussed emails circulated during campaigning for the union elections. Some councillors expressed concern at the tone and content of election material, and asked if the union executive body “… develop a code of conduct for use of email during elections to ensure that they meet professional standards?”, the insider said.

Councillors subsequently carried the following motion:

“That Executive develop a Code of Conduct for appropriate member use of all forms of communication during elections to ensure that they meeting acceptable professional standards.”

A number of councillors expressed concern that the code was aimed at controlling open debate and public criticism of AEU officials and staff and was a knee jerk reaction to the recent negative commentary about Leanne Wright, the insider said.

TAFE section president Ross Dale said: “I didn’t support the motions because it was clear from the debate and the discussion that it was really about controlling the information that’s provided to members at union election time”

“It’s ironic that this motion was carried some days before I received a nasty bit of hate mail. The code of conduct won’t have any effect on those sorts of tactics”.