The UNISON branch fully supports UCU in taking whatever action it feels is necessary to defend the terms and conditions of its members.
What is at stake here is not just the three issues identified – jobs in Arts and Humanities, academic promotions and fundamental changes to contracts, but also the rights of all staff to work at an institution which maintains an effective working relationship between senior managers and the trade unions.
Working people do not take strike action lightly, but the overwhelming result of UCU’s ballot for action demonstrates the depth of feeling of UCU members. As many UNISON members are telling us, the current leadership of the University are drifting to a position where confrontation and non-negotiable announcements are the norm rather than the spirit of constructive discussion, which had been the tradition at Brighton for many years.
Senior managers will say that this is necessary to deal with the challenges faced by the University as a result of government policies, student numbers and funding changes. We argue that turning this institution into an education factory with more casualisation and fewer employment rights is precisely what students are not in favour of. There is an opportunity to demonstrate that Brighton can be different and can show current and potential students that its workforce is less stressed, properly rewarded and highly motivated.
The anti-trade union laws, specifically designed to prevent trade-unionists from effective campaigning to support the rights of their members may have postponed the planned action, but we will do whatever we legally can to support UCU members later in the month.
If UNISON members have any questions, any of our officers, stewards and reps will be happy to answer them.
As always, we would encourage all members of staff who have not yet joined a union to seriously consider doing so. It is only by sticking together, and organising on a democratic basis that we can make sure that our rights at work are protected.