Recognition FAQ

What does it mean for a union to be recognised?

A recognition agreement lays out the framework in which employers and unions can negotiate things like pay and working conditions. Currently, the University of Cambridge does not recognise UCU. This means that the University has no obligation to negotiate with UCU about changes to working conditions or redundancies and UCU often learns about decisions after they have already been made. Recognition would give us a voice and more power over key decision-making processes.


Why hasn’t Cambridge recognised UCU?

The University of Cambridge is the only public university in England that does not recognise UCU. For many years, the University argued that UCU members do not need recognition because they are represented in Regent House. But Regent House is an ancient and cumbersome form of governance: it doesn’t include all UCU members, and it can’t negotiate on pay equality, working conditions, or the other concerns that matter to staff. During the most recent strikes, UCU, with considerable support from undergraduate students, called on the University to recognise UCU and compelled the Vice Chancellor to finally shift the University’s position.


Will being recognised make a real difference?

Yes! With recognition, we’d be able to bargain collectively over our working conditions, and stand up to any changes to our contracts, or worse still, redundancies. We’d have the right to be consulted meaningfully about new policies, and the right to the information we need to go into those meetings with all the relevant evidence. And our reps would have time off to do their union work, instead of cramming it in on top of already heavy workloads.


What is Cambridge proposing and why isn’t it good enough?

Responding to pressure from UCU during the most recent strikes, the Vice Chancellor formally invited us to submit a claim for recognition. However, the University offered to recognise UCU as the representative of academic staff only – leaving our academic-related and research staff members without a seat at the table. We do not believe the University should unilaterally deny a voice to some staff and not others: we want union recognition for all categories of staff, whatever their role at the University.


Does the UCU support Cambridge recognising other unions?

Yes: all staff deserve the right to be in a recognised union. Although the University recognises other unions for its assistant staff, it does not currently recognise UCU. In fact, it is the only public university in England that does not recognise UCU. That is why we are calling on the University to negotiate a recognition agreement with UCU and to ensure a seat at the table for all categories of staff.