Moves that could lead to a merger between the Association of University Teachers and the University Lecturers' Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland are set to be stifled today by the EIS executive council..
The ULA's executive has voted overwhelmingly to seek permission for exploratory discussions with the AUT in Scotland, but the union's powerful finance and general purposes committee is recommending that the motion be rejected at today's meeting.
Martin Myant, president of the ULA, said its executive wants a single union for Scottish higher education. The ULA's position was being weakened by changes within the EIS.
Both the ULA and the College Lecturers' Association, also part of the EIS, have been alarmed by internal restructuring which is removing the post of higher and further education secretary, and replacing it by a lower level national officer post. Jack Dale, further and higher education secretary for ten years, will take early retirement in December.
Dr Myant said that ULA wanted to be able to talk to AUT on possible conditions for a transfer of membership. But it appeared that the association's request for permission to talk to the AUT would not be granted, he said. The ULA will meet next week to discuss the outcome of the meeting, although under EIS rules, the issue may not be allowed to be brought up again for several months.
John Duffy, secretary of AUT Scotland, said: "We don't want to poach members from EIS-ULA. I think we've always felt the way forward is to have as close cooperation as possible, and see if any kind of natural evolution takes place."
The ULA currently has 1,800 members, while AUT Scotland has more than 4,500.