Staff Unions

Staff at the RCA are able to be part of two Unions – UCU which represents academic staff and Unite which represents technical staff. Historically there hasn’t been much contact between the three of us but moving forward we will be having regular meetings to make sure that we can support each other.
We are stronger together fighting the same fight!
There are dozens of reasons to join a union, but ultimately, it comes down to protecting your rights in the workplace. Some members of staff are reluctant to join the Unions as they perceiv that this is a black mark against their name in the eyes of management. The larger the Union memberships are the more sway they have.
Do you know if your favourite tutor or technician is a member of the Union? Would you like them to be? At the end of this page there is a template email to send to staff to show your support in them becoming part of the Union.
 Unite trade union works hard to ensure all workers have the right representation in their workplace, as well as making your voice heard in Government debate and decision-making. When you join Unite, you’ll become part of a diverse and varied community of working people, just like you. Not only will you have our support on workplace issues such as fair pay for all and a healthy working environment; you’ll also have access to a number of Unite benefits such as legal advice, training and education.
It doesn’t cost a lot to become one of the biggest and fastest growing trade unions in the UK. Use the online cost calculator to see what you might pay each month, in exchange for endless support and varied benefits.
The University and College Union (UCU) represents over 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.
UCU is recognised by higher and further education employers at a national level, and by many individual institutions locally throughout the UK, for the purposes of negotiating salaries, pay structures and conditions of employment. UCU works closely with other unions on matters of common concern, often jointly lobbying government and other bodies on employment and educational issues. UCU is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and sends delegates to its annual congress and to its women’s and black members, disabled and LGBT conferences.
Email Template
Hi ____,
I just wondered if you are part of UCU or Unite? I believe that the college community benefits from it’s members being part of strong unions. As I’m sure many students do, I support you in being represented and want to make sure you have a healthy working environment. No worries if you don’t wish to disclose whether you are a member or not. I just wanted you to know students endorse the unions.
All the best,

The latest message from RCA UCU members: 

Staff working conditions are student learning conditions. We want to make the best possible teaching environment for you, but to do that things need to change. UCU have balloted nationally for strike action for four reasons:

  • To end casualisation and rising job insecurity
  • Tackle the rising workloads driving our members to breaking point
  • Address the scandal of the gender pay gap
  • Gain pay awards at, or above, the rate of inflation after a decade of pay fall by 20% in real terms.

At the RCA all these issues affect us deeply. The RCA hires more lecturers on insecure contracts than any university in the UK. 90% of lecturers were hired by the RCA on insecure contracts according to the Precarious Work In HE UCU Report 2016. When UCU highlighted this to RCA management in 2016 the RCA said they would work with the UCU branch to rectify the situation. Instead in 2018 they instituted ‘terms of engagement’ which strips hourly paid lecturers (VLs) of employment rights and makes them even more precarious. They also made the (then) only union rep redundant.

Some areas of the college are staffed almost entirely by VL tutors who work on the same course year in year out. To say they are ‘engaged’ not employed is both insulting to the work they do and denies them rights. Engaged VLs can be fired at anytime and don’t get rights to permanency. We have reinvigorated the union and are fighting against this, but last year the RCA tried to cut VLs out of our union recognition agreement. We have been forced to ballot for strike action to show RCA management we will not put up with this any longer.

Furthermore over the last decade the HE sector’s income has increased by £11 billion & universities’ reserves have almost tripled. Yet since 2009, the value of pay in higher education has fallen by 20% in real terms. At the same time, members have seen their workloads rise, while employers have failed to commit to meaningful action to address the gender pay gap or tackle the job insecurity which plagues the sector.

We want the RCA to recognise the scale of our concerns and create an art school that works for all. If we get a YES vote for the strike, action will take place in November. We want to give you the time, teaching conditions and environment you deserve. Please help us voice our concerns and support the strike!

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