Pay and unity 2

August 10, 2007

Gavin Reid's comments (Letters, August 3) demonstrate only too well that there are still voices in the University and College Union that believe splendid isolation is the answer to their troubles.

The trade union movement is about collectivism and strength through unity. One of the problems of last year's UCU industrial action was the union's decision "to go it alone" without any attempt to coordinate with the other higher education unions. Surprising as it may be to Reid, Unison, Unite and the general union GMB (representing professional, technical, administrative and ancillary staff or PTAAS) have some experience in industrial action and pay bargaining. We also represent the majority of the staff in the sector.

Far from being "less vociferous... on behalf of our members", the real difference has been in our tactics and the issues we have prioritised in negotiations.

The 13.1 per cent three-year deal is worth more than 15 per cent for our lowest-paid members, who have also had increases worth 40 per cent in their pay since 2003 directly as a result of the deals the PTAAS unions have negotiated. Single-table bargaining will not stop individual unions raising issues of concern to their members or taking action. It should make us stronger as a trade union side.

The UCU and Unison work closely together in many individual higher education institutions, and disagreements over bargaining arrangements should not be used as an excuse for employers to walk away from national negotiations.

Christina McAnea
National Secretary
Unison Education Workforce

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