Unions aren't us, thanks

May 16, 1997

ALAN GREEN, a lecturer in the built environment at the University of Central England, has become disillusioned with unions, writes Harriet Swain.

A Natfhe member for 18 years, he failed to renew his membership after taking a break from teaching and returning to the university on a year's contract.

He felt there was little point in paying his subs when he had only a year's secure employment and his contract said he would have no redress if it was not renewed.

He was also unhappy about the effect on students of union actions: "I observed colleagues being driven by their loyalty to the union even when it meant putting students second and I vehemently disagreed with that."

"I also found policy at faculty and below-management level was severely distorted by pressures from unions," he said. "We were getting decisions which I felt were warped because they confirmed the union's needs rather than educational requirements."

When he did have a reason to ask the union for help, it failed to deliver, he said.

Mr Green had asked the union to intervene because he had seen his hours increase to nearly 800 per year, although his contract was for only 550. But he said the union told him to sort it out with his line manager.

"The material and propaganda for Natfhe I found so unimpressive that if I had joined a union I would have joined one with a gentler approach," he said. "I would like a body that was much less militant, more rational and constructive about proposals."

While Mr Green, 59, is aware that he is totally unprotected and acknowledges that the union does defend individual lecturers in some disputes, he disagrees with its overall negative attitude towards senior management.

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