Union blues

October 16, 2008

To suggest that the University and College Union (UCU) leadership has somehow defied its members' wishes (Letters, 9 October) is disingenuous.

The reason that the UCU currently has a clearly defined non-role at the national pay negotiating body (the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) is because its members made it plain in a ballot earlier this year that they believe the current structure fails them in a number of ways.

The UCU regrets that the current structures prevent us from representing our members in academic and academic-related jobs on matters exclusive to their roles. Our members reject a stringent timetable for annual pay negotiations that precludes the opportunity to explore new and/or unexpected circumstances during the year, and we believe that there should be a distribution of trade union seats on the committee that reflects union membership in higher education.

As the organisation that represents 95 per cent of unionised academic and related staff, we will be submitting our pay claim as normal and will expect a response. We do not believe it is unreasonable for a union to seek arrangements that its members have democratically voted for and that strengthen their position.

We find it disappointing, and are deeply saddened, that another trade union would choose to join with the employers to publicly criticise us for doing just that.

Alastair Hunter, UCU higher education chair.

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