You’ve seen the pink hats. You’ve seen the braziers. If you’re very lucky you’ve seen the dancing! But we do so much more: read on to find out what UCU Brighton does and how you can get involved.

What we do

We defend the academic freedom and professional judgment of our members in the face of a creeping managerialism which increasingly seeks to dictate every aspect of our jobs.

Who we’re fighting for

Everybody in Higher Education. As a campaigning union we are proactive in protecting what’s great about HE and fighting for changes to make things even better. As the largest post-school union in the world we have the strength to defend HE for the benefit of staff, students and society.

We represent members of staff including academics, lecturers, teachers, trainers, instructors, researchers, administrators, managers, computer staff, librarians, postgraduate teaching assistants and other education professionals.

What we do locally at University of Brighton

As a recognised trade union, we have a key say in how things are done here at Brighton. UCU meet at least 6 times each year with the University Executive Board (UEB) which includes the Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Heads of Schools, Registrar, Directors of Campus Developments, People and Finance amongst others. Some of these meetings are between UCU and the UEB only, some of them are joint meetings between UCU, the UEB and our sister union Unison, who represent other members of staff. We meet with university management in several other contexts, such as the policy working group which meets periodically to review university policies. In other words, we stand up for our staff in every part of the university’s decision-making structures.

Through these mechanisms we have defended the interests of staff in a number of ways. We have, for example, ensured the staff development review is not transformed into a performance appraisal system. We negotiated the workload agreement which builds in protections on our workloads and we have been monitoring the implementation and continue to successfully challenge management when breaches are identified.

Helping members with specific issues

We have a very committed team of over 10 caseworkers who advise and help out members in trouble. Recent victories include ensuring that, despite their best efforts, management have never secured any compulsory redundancies. When Heads of Schools attempt to ignore collective agreements such as the workload & flexible working agreements, we step in to ensure that our members are being treated fairly.

What we do nationally

As a very active branch, Brighton UCU shape the direction of UCU nationally. For example, in November 2019 we took two motions proposed at branch meetings to the national UCU Equalities conference. One based on feedback and issues our members are facing (maternity and paternity leave and pay) and one co-written with a member in relation the EU accessibility regulations. Both motions carried with minor amendments and will be taken forward to the National Congress, where we will push to have them accepted as union policy nationally.

As union reps we are constantly learning, both by listening to members and also by attending union training and to ensure that we keep our knowledge up-to-date.

Fighting for equality

Our members run and participate in many types of campaigns, events and initiatives in support of equality. In October 2019, staff from our Black Members equalities strand ran a film screening of BlackKklansman (2018: Dir. Spike Lee) to mark Black History Month. Brighton UCU fights for our local community: we are currently supporting the “Hands off Moulsecoomb Primary School” protests and campaigns against the academisation of this local school. Our banner is often seen at climate marches, anti-racist demos and many other events as our members proudly show their support.

What you can do: Staff

  • Attend your local branch meetings

We work hard for our members but our strength comes from the number and solidarity of our members who are prepared to take collective action to fight for better working conditions and pay for all. We can fight against issues such as breaches of the workload agreement because we are told about these issues my individual members like you at branch meetings. As well as the local importance of attending, these meetings are the democratic basis for the union: every motion adopted by the National Congress starts out as a motion from a member of a local branch.

What you can do: Students

  • Talk to staff about the strike

We really believe in the importance of the action we are taking and we want to explain why. Visit the picket lines to talk to us. When the strike action finishes and teaching resumes, talk to us.

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