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Middx. profs win union fight


Middlesex University in North London has just signed a recognition agreement which will see all the professorial staff involved in teaching and research being represented by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU). The university had argued that as the professors were part of "senior management" they could choose to be union members, but the union could not negotiate on their behalf.

This victory is the end point of a fight which really took off in July 2005 and is an object lesson in basic trade unionism. In July 2005 all the professors in the university received a letter just before their summer holidays announcing that the university was aiming to make 19 professors redundant (the number carefully chosen to avoid compliance with legislation which makes additional requirements on the employer if the number is 20 or more).

Despite the lack of official recognition, professors contacted the UCU branch and a fight took off. In the event less than two whole time equivalent posts were lost and this was because the individuals opted for redundancy. Some professors were so enraged by the letter, they sought posts elsewhere (probably what the management had hoped for). But most professors stayed and started a campaign for recognition which has taken just under 18 months to achieve victory.