The Academics' Association (AA) is no more. A proposal to dissolve the AA was accepted at the AGM in May, and a new constitution was adopted to officially mark the launch of the university's Academics' Union (AU).
More than half the membership responded to a poll last year, with over 80% voting to support unionising, about 13% voting against the move, and the remainder choosing to abstain. The next step was to draw up the constitution, which outlines the objectives of the new body.
"The move toward unionising was necessitated by erosions and breakdowns in the 'collegial framework' for engagement, and the growing need to ensure that members of the AU are given greater legal protection under the Labour Relations Act," explains Roger Arendse of the AU.
"The AU exco is now able to begin discussions around a Collective/Recognition Agreement with UCT management, and has already initiated such efforts.
"It is also important to recognise that it will be easier for management to engage with academic staff through a formal union. We have received unequivocal support for the union from a number of senior management staff, since it is felt that it will clarify the lines of communication and ensure that staff are included and represented in the various processes of the university.
"I would like to assure all members that our intention is not to draw the battle lines," says AU president, Dr Ulrike Rivett. "We would like to set up a different interaction with the university, striving to engage in a spirit of constructive collaboration as far as possible, but with far greater legal protection, bargaining powers and rights than we enjoy at present."
The newly elected AU exco is Dr Ulrike Rivett (president), Associate Professor Bernhard Weiss (vice-president), Abdul Cader Abdulla (treasurer) and Roger Arendse (secretary). Other exco members include Associate Professor Bette Davidowitz, Shane Godfrey, Dr Kenneth Hughes, Janice McMillan and Professor Kit Vaughan.
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