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Rally and march in protest over Coventry University Group's 'sham union'

14 May 2018 | last updated: 16 May 2018

University and college staff from across the country will take part in a rally and march on Wednesday over the Coventry University Group's use of a 'sham union' to deny employees proper trade union representation.

Protesters will assemble for a 3pm rally at Broadgate in Coventry city centre, before marching to lobby a meeting of the university board of governors at 4pm in the Alan Berry Building of Coventry University's main campus.

Speakers at the Broadgate rally will include UCU vice-president Douglas Chalmers, UCU vice-president elect Nita Sanghera, Jane Nellist from the Coventry Trade Union Council and Labour councillor Kindy Sandhu.

The row centres on attempts by staff at Coventry University Group - whose employees have worse pay and conditions than their colleagues at Coventry University - to win trade union recognition.

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Coventry University and has set up a sham trade union - the Staff Consultative Group - and signed a recognition agreement with it. A loophole in trade union law means that, despite the wishes of staff, UCU cannot apply to represent those affected.

UCU says Coventry is using dirty tricks to deny its staff their rights and that it may call for an academic boycott of the university if bosses do not stop their underhand tactics. MPs from across the UK have signalled their support by signing a parliamentary motion calling for UCU to be recognised.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'Staff at Coventry University Group have already made it clear that they want to be represented by UCU, and MPs from across the country are backing the campaign. We are again calling on the board and management to respect staff wishes, scrap the sham union and grant UCU proper negotiating rights. Unless Coventry wants to risk an academic boycott, these dirty tricks need to end now.'

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