HR's union rhetoric is stuck in the 1980s 1

August 27, 2009

I was perplexed to read that university HR directors believe the sector's problems are the fault of the workforce and their representatives. It is not staff and unions who have created a culture of casualised employment in higher education. Nor is it us who are presiding over job cuts that already affect 6,000 staff while refusing to negotiate a national agreement with unions that could alleviate this.

The real truth is that higher education is all too often an exemplar of bad rather than good practice; lately with the refusal of many universities to conduct equality audits before letting staff go and courses close. What our sector needs is not less democratic governance and accountability, but more.

One unexpected benefit of your depressing report was a resulting surge in applications to join the University and College Union. Our membership is now at 120,000 - the highest ever level. Proof that UCU and its sister unions will be here long after these self-appointed masters of HR have moved on.

Sally Hunt, General secretary, UCU.

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