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March, 2013:

UCU Reps train at Taunton

UCU reps discuss the DOs and DONTs of individual casework

Being a UCU rep is both challenging and rewarding so UCU supports each and every rep by providing free and extensive training. Reps can learn about Health and Safety, organising, individual casework, collective issues, employment legislation and collective bargaining and meet others that are doing the same job.

Here four reps from the South West Region break out to discuss the DOs and DONTs of individual casework.  They are part of the latest batch of twelve reps to train on the popular Reps 2 Training Course, a three day course held twice yearly in Taunton (March 2013). 

The University and College Union (UCU) represents more than 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK and is the largest post-school union in the world. It has thousands of union reps, all doing rewarding work supporting their colleagues and standing up for education.

Why not join them?

  • All training is high quality and free
  • You have a statutory right to paid leave to attend it
  • You have a statutory right to remission to perform union duties
  • You can make a difference in your workplace 

If you are intersted in becoming a union rep for UCU in the South West Region email dotoole (at) If you are not in the South West contact your own regional office. You can find the contact details here

Find out more about being a UCU rep
Find out more about training courses
Find out more about your rights to training


FX Plus – Sharing out the Pain





FX Plus – Sharing out the Pain

Sign the UCU / GMB petition at

About 130 employees at Falmouth University, are set to be transferred to a company jointly owned by Falmouth and the University of Exeter known as Falmouth Exeter Plus (FX Plus). The company was set up in 2004 (originally as Tremough Campus Services) and already employs 235 people at the two universities, mainly in catering, estate maintenance and campus services. But those whose contracts are now being transferred are staff who work alongside, and in support of, the academic staff and will include library and IT services staff, academic skills assistants and disability support teams. It is believed to be the first time a UK university has moved its entire academic support service to a separate company.

The shared services model takes advantage of new rules which allow academic institutions to establish private companies but avoid paying VAT as would happen under the rules which govern charities.

Falmouth University staff have reported fears of jobs being recruited to in FX Plus which are significantly lower in terms of pay than for the same job with Falmouth University. New recruits and existing staff at FX Plus have between seven and ten fewer days of annual leave than employees transferring in to the company. There are also concerns that future restructuring could erode TUPE protection and bring TUPE transferred staff onto inferior FX Plus terms and conditions over time.

UCU and GMB met recently with FXPlus CEO and the HR representative (Monday 4 March) and asked again for the implementation of the National Framework Agreement and national pay bargaining. FXPlus management did not make any commitment to our claim but have stated that there will be a terms and conditions review later this year. What this will cover will not be known until terms of reference are agreed by the board of governors in May.  FXPlus management stated that union campaigning “should manage the expectations of staff”.

What we say:

The facilities used by FX Plus exist as a result of gaining EC funding aimed at improving economic performance in one of the poorest regions in the UK. We fear this move introduces local pay bargaining “by the back door” and is in direct contradiction to the spirit of the EC funding. Existing plans will instigate a two-tier system with a race to the bottom which can only further harm our economy. There are simple answers to allay these staff fears:

  • Implement National Framework Agreements for all staff
  • Retain National Pay Bargaining arrangements
  • Plan to bring all staff into this agreement over time
  • Recognition of UCU by FX Plus

UCU and GMB, whose staff are both affected in this transfer, have committed to work together to oppose the move of staff under these conditions and to defend the important right of union recognition.

What Can I do?

Sign the UCU / GMB petition at
Contact your  union rep and offer your support

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Union Recognition: (But Were Afraid To Ask)
Employers have a statutory duty to consult with unions, where recognised, in many areas of employment. Gaining or retaining union recognition is in your interests whether you are a union member or not. Read more at

Download leaflets here:  FX Plus – Leaflet A5

Everything you ever wanted to know about union recognition (but were afraid to ask)








Support the campaign to recognise UCU at FX Plus by signing the petition at

Employers have a statutory duty to consult with employee representatives in many circumstances. For example, an employer wanting to make redundancies must engage in “meaningful consultation” with appropriate staff representatives about the reasons for them and the best ways of avoiding redundancies or mitigating the effects. An employer wanting to change contractual terms similarly cannot do it without the agreement of both “parties” and must also consult. If a union branch is established and recognised this the body that the employer must consult with.

In these cicumstances although negotiations of the changes may be done with a recognised trade union all staff will benefit from conditions won by the union whether they belong to the union or not.

Research shows that wages in workplaces that are unionised are higher than in those which are not. Once again these benefits are enjoyed by all employees.

Unions are experienced negotiators with expert advice legal advice “on tap”. It is not an exaggeration to say that all of the benefits enjoyed by staff in the modern workplace have been argued for and won by trade unions and none by those “going it alone”. So it is to the benefit of all employees then that a well-organised union branch exists in your workplace and that it is “recognised” for collective bargaining by the employer.

So how does a union get to be “recognised” by an employer?

Many employers, enlightened or not, accept that communicating and consulting with staff and negotiating changes to terms and conditions is most smoothly done by talking to professional and well trained union representative rather than by trying to address staff at the individual level. The vast majority of employers, therefore, recognise the relevant unions voluntarily.

Where this is not the case, the recognition status can be decided by a body called the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The CAC will look at applications against a number of criteria, many of which relate to the strength of support for recognition among the workers in the bargaining unit.

Where less than 50 per cent of workers in a bargaining unit are trade union members, the CAC will hold a secret ballot to find out how much support the trade union has. The CAC will generally award recognition if 40 per cent of all the workers in the bargaining unit take part in the vote and a majority of those vote ‘yes’.

In brief

  • You are better off in a union
  • You are better off in a unionised workplace (even if you are not in the union)

Support the campaign to recognise UCU at FX Plus. Join UCU at

Sign the petition at

Download leaflets here:  FX Plus – Leaflet A5

If you want to know more about UCU email dotoole (at)