'Both sides realise now that everyone benefits from strong, capable unions'

September 22, 2006

Trades Union Congress elects Middlesex University administrator Alison Shepherd as its next president

Higher education will find itself at the heart of the union movement thanks to the appointment of an administrator at Middlesex University as the next president of the Trades Union Congress. Alison Shepherd was elected at a meeting of the TUC's governing body, the general council, at the 138th Congress in Brighton last week. She takes up the post next year.

She has spent more than 20 years as a union activist and was previously president of public service workers' union Unison, and has represented the union on the TUC general council for over a decade.

"Staff in universities are a shining example of healthy trade union activism," she said. "There is a very high rate of membership in the sector. The fastest growing trade unions are for professional workers, and the stereotype of trade unions being simply about the old-style working man is simply not true. The movement is still very relevant today."

"I will continue to fight for the issues that matter to higher education staff. The number one concern is still job security. We still have seemingly endless reorganisations and restructurings which leads to real concern among administrative staff."

But Ms Shepherd also sounded a note of optimism: "We're currently in a period of change with implementation of the national framework agreement (on pay) and we are hopeful for the future.

"Both sides realise now that everyone benefits from strong, capable unions in the workplace," she said. "The best universities prove that this is the case."

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