About Us

EqualityEducation is an amazing and immensely rewarding profession, but these are insecure and worrying times. At some point in your career, you are likely to have a problem in your workplace.
When you join UCU you are joining a union of professionals like yourself who can rest easier in the knowledge that they will not face their problems alone.
We are a democratic, campaigning branch with a strong tradition of defending our members’ interests, over jobs, pay, equal rights and conditions of service.  On very rare occasions that perspective has brought us into such sharp conflict with the University Management that we have been obliged to ballot on, and take, industrial action.  This has always been a last resort, and members recognise that the ability of Branch Officers to deliver on a whole range of other issues depends on the unity and strength of purpose of the Branch when the chips are down.

UCU is recognised at Northumbria to represent academic staff, and all agreements negotiated with Natfhe have carried over to the new union.  You will find the most important such as Local Agreements on this site under Your Rights (link to that section). Many are also on the Northumbria University web site but they are sometimes difficult to find there.

UCU members can get representation and support from trained UCU representatives and full-time officials as well as expert legal advice. Last year, UCU's legal service won more than £7 million in settlements for members treated unfairly at work. We also work hard to provide benefits that enhance the lives of our members in work and out of it. If you are injured at work, if you need advice over your pension or more general financial guidance, whether you are looking for good travel or home insurance deals or if you need one-to-one counselling for work-based stress, the support we provide through our partnerships with Endsleigh, Aviva and Recourse is second to none.

A professional Union

As a union of professionals, UCU supports its members in their professional lives and careers.
UCU negotiates with employers locally and nationally to improve access to professional development and support proper career structures.
We also provide our own resources to help steer our members through their careers, especially those at the beginning of their professional lives. Every UCU member gets a copy of our Early Careers Guide, as well as access to our own growing range of professional development courses. Every member also gets a copy of our union magazine, UC, free, as well as discounted access to the Journal of Further and Higher Education.

A national voice for the profession

UCU is a nationally respected voice, speaking up for staff in colleges and universities, working for our members.
We are an effective campaigning union, winning the ear of those in power on the issues affecting our members, from pensions and privatisation to equality and safety in the workplace.
As a union affiliated to the TUC, we are also part of a 6 million-strong wider movement speaking up for the working people.

An active community

When you make the decision to join UCU you become part of an active community of professionals supporting each other.
Every member who becomes active in our union makes it stronger, whether it's getting involved in our campaigns, attending your branch meeting, volunteering to help your local branch committee, training to become a representative or standing for election.
We are a vibrant, active democratic community committed to improving the lives of our members at work. Get involved and help make us even more effective.

How we function (maybe it will be better as a sub-menu of about us? Or can the title be bolded?)
In line with the rest of the union, the Branch functions under open democratic principles and a Constitution (link to local rules) which has been decided by members and which is in line with UCU national rules.  Members are served by a network of Faculty/Divisional Representatives, an Executive Committee consisting of Branch Officers (link to document about branch officers) elected at the Annual General Meeting, and a Branch Committee comprising the Executive together with the Faculty/Divisional Representatives. If you have an individual problem, please contact your Faculty/Divisional Representative in the first instance.

The 1-2 pm time-slot on Wednesday afternoons is recognised by the University for UCU meetings.  We aim to hold at least three regular Branch Meetings each year, plus at least one for Coach Lane Campus members.  By agreement with Management, teaching and other University/Faculty activities should not be scheduled in this time-slot, and therefore no member should be prevented from attending a Branch Meeting.  Except for urgent situations, we aim to decide the dates of meetings well enough in advance (see Diary (link to the diary)) for you to be able to inform your line manger that you have a prior commitment.

In between Branch Meetings, the Branch Committee meets at least once every two months, and the Executive at least once every month (except for August).  As well as dealing with contemporary issues, the Branch Committee and Branch Executive are charged with carrying out a number of tasks which form the basis of the Work Programme agreed at the Annual general Meeting.

For the most part, the work of Branch Officers involves policy discussion, negotiating with Management through such forums as the Joint Negotiating Committee, the weekly UCU/Management meetings , the Equality Sub-group  of the JNC and various working groups, and in representing members in individual case work and externally, at UCU regional and national meetings and at Newcastle upon Tyne TUC .  

Via our network of representatives, we maintain regular contact with members, circulating important communications and a Branch Newsletter