UK: Affiliates Agree to Union Merger

Members of EI affiliates NATFHE and the AUT have voted overwhelmingly for their unions to merge and create the world’s largest union for post-school academic and academic-related staff, with more than 110,000 members.

When the ballot was declared this afternoon, nearly 80% of AUT members who voted were in favour of merger and 95% of Natfhe voters. The new union, the University and College Union (UCU), will represent further and higher education lecturers, managers, researchers and many academic-related staff such as librarians, administrators and computing professionals across the UK. The two unions will amalgamate on 1 June 2006, and then enter a transitional year until full operational unity is achieved in June 2007. In a joint statement Paul Mackney, NATFHE general secretary, and Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary said: "We are delighted our members have voted overwhelmingly for the creation of the University and College Union. The new union will be a potent force for change in further and higher education. No longer will universities and colleges be able to divide our members over their pay and conditions. "Our priorities now will be to improve our members' salaries, end the scandal of pay discrimination on the grounds of gender and ethnicity and defend the core values of education such as academic freedom." Dr Steve Wharton and John Wilkin, presidents of AUT and NATFHE respectively, added: "A bigger stronger union will be able to do more for our 116,000 members across the sectors we represent. We are determined that the best of both AUT’s and NATFHE's traditions are combined to create a vibrant professional union which will be a major player in education both here and across the globe. As the largest further and higher education union in the world, UCU will be a voice to be listened to and respected by all."