The rise of the AUT

May 23, 1997

I WAS disappointed to see in your articles on lecturers' unions (THES, May 16) although you referred to the Association of University Teachers Council you omitted any mention of my presidential address which took membership and representation as its theme.

As I said, in May 1996, the AUT had 35,800 members. We have more than 38,000 (not 37,000 as quoted by you) today.

Our merger with the Association of University and College Lecturers will take us way over 40,000 members.

I also said that we had to work hard at representing all of those members, and attracting more into union membership.

In the light of our buoyant growth, it is a bit perverse of you to conduct interviews with a few staff who have left unions when these are clearly bucking the trend.

The AUT is a broad church. Some members undoubtedly welcome industrial action on all occasions. Some others do not.

You cannot please all of the members all of the time but the overwhelming majority of our members support the careful line we have trodden this year. On the central theme of our campaign - the need for a pay review body - your poll last month showed that 90 per cent of staff in higher education agree. I will settle for that, the government should too.

Philip Burgess, President, AUT

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