A lot of members have asked me this question in one form or another. One person, for example, emailed me after my first all-member email to say that their branch was not very good at including ARPS staff in its activities and they were considering joining Unison. Here is an edited version of my replies to the members who asked me about this issue:
I talk in my manifesto about making it possible for UCU’s national committees to learn more about the members they represent, and communicate with them by email. The examples I give there are the equalities committees and the anti-casualisation committee, but this will be equally true of the committee for Academic-Related and Professional Services staff. At the moment, none of these committees is allowed to send emails to members in the categories they represent. They aren’t given access to information about the numbers, geographical distribution etc. of members in those categories, either. In fact, a lot of members don’t even know that they exist. I have pledged to change that. I hope that you would feel more like a valued part of the union if you received information about what UCU was doing on issues that particularly concern academic-related staff.
We have 8,500 professional services staff in pre-92 branches. My view is that UCU has not given nearly enough attention to them in its annual negotiations with employers over pay, casualisation, equality and workload. For example, when UCU makes (very limited) demands for more open-ended, longer-term contracts, it tends to restrict them to teaching and/or research staff only. No wonder professional services staff are discouraged from joining UCU: if we go on strike and get what we’re asking for, the benefits won’t extend to them.
The bottom line is that if I am elected, you’ll see UCU communicating more clearly and directly with you and other professional services staff, and including you properly in its national bargaining. We’re also interested in developing ways of making it easier for professional services staff to support industrial action without repercussions from their line managers.
[One of the members who got back to me said they didn’t even know that UCU had a committee for Academic-Related/Professional Services staff! It just goes to show how much difference it could make if members could be better informed about this sort of thing.]