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Build the Union

The Open University is unique in size, staff numbers and their structures. The OU branch of UCU is recognised by management as the only union to represent the academic, academic-related, research and Associate Lecturer staff it employs.

Your Union Needs YOU - Build the union

All branch activity is undertaken by members on a voluntary basis, although your unit can be reimbursed for time taken in pursuit of union duties (ask us about the Facility time agreement).

There is lots of work to do, so if you think you can spare some time - from updating a notice board to becoming a member of the Executive Committee - do it! Have a chat with an active member or contact the Branch office - the names of all our reps/contacts are on the People, Reps & Committees page.

UCU Reps and Contacts
To run the local branch effectively we really need members to take an active role. We have the following roles with the branch:

  • Executive Committee member
  • Walton Hall Departmental Rep or Publicity contact
  • Regional/National Centre Reps or Publicity contact
  • Associate Lecturer Rep
  • UCU Contact - view further information about being a UCU contact on the Build the Union website.

Nothing demanding is expected of a named contact, and you need do nothing that might bring you into conflict with local management. We simply need people we can contact, either to give information to, or receive queries from, other members. You would be asked to display posters to alert other staff to the ease with which they can join the union, and the benefits of doing so, post the Spark (branch newsletter) around the unit, and perhaps keep a notice board up-to-date with the latest news from OUBUCU and the national office. Of course, if you want to become more involved, that's fine!

Please visit our People, reps and committees page to see which units or regions/nations still need reps - the new "UCU Contact" role is not restricted so if your unit already has a UCU rep, you can still volunteer as a Contact.

Contact us on 01908 6(53069) or email

Union Learning Reps
We would like to hear from anyone interested in becoming UCU union learning rep. A union learning rep (ULR) is a union representative who is trained in advising members on learning needs and opportunities, recruited from the workforce. Their key role is to raise awareness of training and developments across the membership they represent.

The UCU is an affiliated union to unionlearn and part of unionlearn’s campaign for learning in the workplace is to recruit union learning reps. Unionlearn hope to have around 22,000 by 2010. However the OU branch of the UCU currently has none!

The Employment Act 2002, section 43 states that ULRs are entitled to reasonable paid time off for training and carrying out their duties. A 5 day training programme meets the requirements of the Employment Act 2002, which says that new ULRs should attend suitable training within 6 months of their appointment. The Act also gives a right for union members who wish to have access to the services of a ULR reasonable time off without pay to do this.
Have a look at the UnionLearn website at:
If you are interested in finding out more please contact the branch office.

Associate Lecturer Reps
These are points of contact, and local representatives for ALs, and collectively they function as the AL Reps’ committee, which plays an important role in advising the branch executive committee on matters relating to AL employment. We now have at least one AL regional rep for 12 of the regional/national offices, but there is a vacancy in Ireland - please check the AL reps page for further information.

Health and Safety Reps
At the moment we have only three H&S reps, two ALs and one regional staff member. Ideally we should have one in every region and in every department at MK, as well as several AL H&S reps. Anyone who has a knowledge and/or interest in health and safety issues would be invaluable. Time off work for training and other functions is a statutory right.

We can empower each other, and this would assist us in all our dealings with management. Please volunteer by emailing