You and UCU

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UCU and Collective HE Action

The UCU is concerned about being able to deliver a 21st Century education to 21st Century students to meet 21st Century needs. 

Because the Union cares for its members and the students for whom we’re responsible, we need to fight the current situation in HE.

New managerialism, the preferred tool of the university bosses, seems to be sweeping the HE sector, and the unions seem to be thrashing about in an effort to combat this assault on the terms and conditions of workers.

 The UCU email lists are full of messages about how each of the universities is developing separate pay scales, not just for lecturers, but for academic-related staff, as well.  There’s also discussion about job roles and job evaluation.  What we can see is a picture on the box that’s nothing like the jigsaw puzzle inside. Ever-increasing workloads, differing pay scales, contestability, private finance, cut-backs, and a fragmented workforce. 

Not only is this an alarming situation, it seems to be one where the workers are powerless. And even some of those on the left seem to be promoting a ‘twin-track’ approach.

 It is clear to me that unless there exists a culture where workers in HE regard themselves as workers, (because the bosses do), then the resistance to the ravages that are facing the sector will be fragmented. 

Common terms and conditions should be primary goals of the UCU.  How else can we ensure quality of provision?   

This is not about self-interest, it is about ensuring that all workers in HE are able to do the job that the students desire.  And the key, here, is students’ desires, not industries’ needs. 

Sure, we need a 21st Century workforce equipped with the social, academic and technical skills and knowledge for society to progress, but that stems from each student’s own curiosity and their desire to find things out. 

A strong UCU fighting for common terms and conditions for its members will help bring that about.  But it can only be done through concerted collective action.


December 21, 2006 - Posted by | Collective action

1 Comment »

  1. The academic staff of British universities are required to conduct and publish original research in peer-reviewed publications or the discipline-equivalent media. What is your experience (direct or indirect) of the conduct and defence of academic research and enterprise across the sciences, humanities and creative arts? How will you balance the UCU Gen Sec’s responsibilities to support members for former AUT and NATFHE in their research employment as well as teaching employment?

    – David Booth (University of Birmingham)

    Comment by David Booth | February 12, 2007

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