University and College Union (UCU) held a rally on 6th October in central Nottingham to speak out against a change in circumstances regarding negotiating with Nottingham Trent University management.

The event was well attended, with delegates from various branches of UCU travelling to show their support. The rally comes after an 11,000 strong petition against NTU’s new union recognition policy and plans to cut facility time for union representatives was handed to governors at the university. It is hoped that the governors will pressure NTU management into a u-turn.

A recent ballot by NTU UCU members resulted in 77% in favour of taking industrial action on 21st October, should the situation not have changed by then.

Mark Weinstein, branch secretary for the UCU at Nottingham Trent, said “they want to significantly change the terms under which we meet, which we think are far to their benefit and to our detriment, and they want to cut the time that we have to carry out trade union duties by somewhere in the region of 80%”.

UCU also believes that NTU management view them as a threat to what Mr Weinstein calls their “clear vision of change”. He went on to say “our view of it is what they’re trying to do is to significantly alter the balance of power between the trade union and the management. Like lots of organisations they’ve got a clear programme for how they see the place to be run. They said they wanted to introduce more cultural change, like introducing private sector ways of working into a public sector organisation, and they see us as an obstacle. Rather than negotiate with us on an individual basis, as and when things happen, they decided the easiest thing to do is to put us into some sort of straight jacket where we find it very difficult to respond”.

Mr Weinstein also claimed that on several occasions NTU management had been offered the chance to engage in public debate with UCU, but all offers were declined. He said that it left UCU asking “what have you
got to hide?”.

Lindsay Wheatcroft, a representative of NTU Socialist Students, was angered by the lack of input from NTU Student’s Union. He said “They have been taking no action to defend student’s interests or to defend the lecturers. They need to get off the fence and support the lecturers to force the management to stop attacking academic staff, because this is not going to improve the students experience at university at all…you have to wonder that if they’re attacking lecturers and staff, how long will it be till they attack the Student’s Union too?”.

Dan Windross, Communications Officer for ULSU says “Fortunately, relationships between the Students’ Union at Lincoln and the University are very close. I can’t see a similar occurence happening here in Lincoln.” Nottingham Trent University’s press office has not responded to our e-mail before publication of this article.