In support of all staff

May 14, 1999

The motion rejected by the Unison Higher Education Conference delegates called for an immediate ballot with a recommendation to reject the offer and to consult and cooperate with other unions in higher education.

Consultation has begun in higher education branches. The service group executive will make a recommendation based on members' responses. Cooperation with other unions now would be difficult as there are several different agendas and the Association of University Teachers has commenced a ballot of its members on industrial action.

Reporting in The THES tends to concentrate on the role of the academic. But the institutions would fall if thousands of support staff said "goodbye to goodwill".

I despair when I hear of job evaluation schemes headlined as suitable for "everyone from porter to professor". This language plays into the hands of the elitist few who feel that support staff should not be valued as highly as the academic staff.

Many of the support staff are highly trained and experienced people who continually upgrade their skills and spend many hours with students.

As a technician at Nottingham Trent University, I am proud to be part of a faculty that recently achieved maximum points in two subject areas after a Quality Assurance Agency visit. In all areas of higher education, we all have a role to play and should all be valued equally.

Why don't we hear more about the wages in higher education that are only just above the minimum wage? Why don't we hear about the constant pressures on clerical staff? Why don't we hear about the extra hours that technicians put in to support students in laboratories and workshops? It is time to address these issues.

Maggie Martin

Senior technician

Nottingham Trent University Member of the Unison higher education service group executive

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