Birkbeck UCU | What we do

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What we do

Organising and Campaigning

We organise around issues that are facing our members in higher education, connecting local concerns with broader changes in the sector. If you have any campaigns you would like to initiate or you think we should be involved in, do ! The AGM, General Meetings and the Branch Committee meetings are the principal fora for discussion of Birkbeck UCU policy.

If you would like to come along to the next committee meeting please contact 

Representation - protection at work in case things go wrong.

UCU can offer representation and advice if you are facing:

  • Disciplinary or grievance hearings
  • Probation hearings
  • Termination of contract
  • Health and safety problems
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Any other issues relating to your terms and conditions of employment.  

Contact your departmental UCU representative in the first instance who may be able to help with minor queries.

If the issue is more serious, the departmental representative may direct you to the casework co-ordinator or another member of the UCU Committee


At Birkbeck, relations between UCU and management are governed by a Procedural Agreement which places obligations on both sides. It states that changes to ‘customary and contractual’ conditions of employment may only be introduced by mutual agreement.

You can see a copy of the procedural agreement here.

Any changes to policies affecting staff are formally agreed at the Staff Joint Committee (SJC), before being presented to Governors for approval. The SJC is also the forum for settling any disagreements. The SJC is chaired alternately by the Master and by the unions and each meeting is in two parts, one for all Birkbeck unions together; the other for matters specifically concerning academic and related staffs.

Nationally, UCU negotiates with the employers' representatives on issues such as pay, pensions, and conditions.

UCU locally has been involved in Birkbeck's Framework Negotiations. This has seen the implementation of a single pay spine, a job evaluation procedure, an appeals procedure, a contribution-related pay policy and harmonisation of policies on TOIL, overtime, sick absence, notice period etc. See for full details.

Who does UCU represent?

Birkbeck University and College Union is the recognised union for the following:

  • Academic staff
  • Administrative, computing and academic related staff on grades 7 and above
  • Librarians
  • Research staff
  • Postgraduate students

This means we negotiate terms and conditions with the college management on behalf of these groups and nationally UCU negotiates pay for these categories of staff.

If you are grade 6 or below (and not in one of the above categories), then you should join Unison. Technical and craft staff should join Unite.