The Open University branch of the University and College Union
We won a better deal for members who were affected by the locations closures, including a rational London weighting, better support for home-working, agreement to maintain some level of regional infrastructure, and a co-operative approach to the move to shift-work.
We have backed members who have faced opposition in converting from fixed-term to permanent. This has a major positive impact on the careers of those directly affected, and it also lowers the pressure on permanent staff which is caused by casualisation. We still have a long way to go as there are still many OU staff on Fixed term contracts.
At a time of institutional crisis and with an increase in macho management styles, the union has offered a channel of communication for members who want to raise problems or complaints but do not feel confident to do this in management structures. This is particularly important as Senate has been progressively stripped of power and influence.
By backing up the university’s bullying and harassment policies, and its equal opportunities policy, the union gives these teeth and prevents them from being empty letters.
We continue to represent the interests of ALs under the current contract as well as negotiating for a new and better contract. Without our persistence the organisational debacle in 2016J could have resulted in significant losses of AL appointments due to uncertainty over student numbers. In the event, lost appointments were fewer than in recent years. We are still pursuing fair pay for supporting students and other additional work associated with GTP.
Life is more fun when you’re in a union! Seriously, if you see your co-workers also as comrades, rather than also as competitors, working in a large and complicated organisation like ours is significantly less stressful.