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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Academics vote for union merger
Members of one of the main higher education unions in the UK have voted to merge with the other big union representing academic staff.

The vote was taken by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) at its annual council, in Eastbourne.

A similar proposal may be put to Natfhe's conference next month.

If it also agreed, a merger ballot would be held among the membership of both unions later this year.

AUT general secretary Sally Hunt welcomed her association's decision and said it was important for there to be one voice representing all academic and related staff.

"This historic decision to create a single union covering both higher and further education will put us in the driving seat to take post-16 education forward," she said.

"The AUT led the way last year on pay with members taking industrial action to win a fair deal. We regained our confidence and got the best deal in the sector. But the employers were still able to divide and rule.

"Merging with Natfhe there will still be arguments about strategy, but they will take place inside the union and not through the media or in front of the employer."

'Much stronger'

Natfhe general secretary Paul Mackney said: "I welcome this decision and hope that Natfhe's executive and conference will also put the proposed merger to members.

STRIKE
Brunel's Uxbridge campus [university photo]
AUT members at Brunel University have voted to strike on Tuesday 26 April
Action is in protest at proposed job cuts
"Academic and academic-related staff want real shared ownership of developments in the system they work in.

"In a single union these staff will be in a much stronger position to fight for decent pay and conditions - and for high quality education for students."

The AUT, with 48,700 members, represents staff mainly in the older, pre-1992 universities in the UK.

Natfhe represents 68,000 lecturers in new universities, further education colleges and adult education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lecturers in Scotland's newer universities and FE colleges are represented by associations within the Educational Institute of Scotland.




SEE ALSO:
Academics vote to accept pay deal
30 Apr 04 |  Education
Universities hit by strike action
25 Feb 04 |  Scotland


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