Digesting derecognition

June 12, 2014

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor at the University of Reading, asserts that the decision to derecognise Unite and Unison and establish a staff forum was taken to address “a serious democratic deficit” (Letters, 29 May).

Despite the claims made by John Brady, the human resources director (“HR head: union shutout ignited staff enthusiasm”, News, 22 May), it remains the case that the staff forum at Reading has yet to meet – a forum that Unison said we would support – with little information currently available to university staff, even to its membership. There is no denying that union density at Reading has been relatively low, but the university refused to acknowledge that we recruited 300 per cent more members in 2013 than in 2012.

It was never clear to Unison, despite requests, where a final decision on derecognition was to be made. We did request the opportunity to address the appropriate body, where we would explain the efforts we had undertaken, but this was refused. We did seek an extension to the deadline, but this was also refused. Unison has been advised that the single seat on the body is “complementary” and will be withdrawn after one year. How derecognition reduces a democratic deficit is more “Yes, Minister” twisted logic than honest partnership.

With regard to Sir David’s rejection of an “anti-union bias” I would simply say that the university has chosen to derecognise Unison at the very time that it is embarking on a major transformational exercise, which by its own admission will have its greatest impact on jobs in the area we have members.

Tony Jones
Regional manager for Unison in the South East

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