Recognition at national level
In the General FE sector, the NEU has formal trade union recognition at national level as the successor to ATL and AMIE and is a member of the NJF national negotiating body. The national recognition agreement does not limit that recognition to any particular group or groups.
In the sixth form college sector, the NEU has formal trade union recognition at national level in respect of teaching staff but is not recognised in respect of support staff.
Recognition at local level
In the General FE sector, the NEU has formal recognition at local level in many colleges as the successor to ATL and AMIE. The NJF’s joint guidance and model local recognition agreement recommended ATL’s recognition for lecturers and senior lecturers and ACM/AMIE’s recognition for management spine staff. NEU recognition at local level is consequently sometimes limited to teaching staff or to managers or to both of these groups. At other colleges, however, the NEU is not recognised.
In the sixth form college sector, the NEU has formal trade union recognition at local level in all colleges in respect of teaching staff but is not recognised in respect of support staff.
Recognition for teachers and managers at local level in colleges which are merging
When any merger between an FE college and a 6FC is proposed or has taken place, NEU representatives should discuss recognition with the new college corporation. As noted above, the NEU will be recognised for teaching staff in the 6FC and may be recognised in the FE college in respect of teaching staff and/or college managers.
The NEU’s aim is to ensure firstly that all existing recognition rights are maintained, and secondly that they are extended where members wish this to happen.
The first aim should be to secure a recognition agreement which formally recognises the NEU to represent and negotiate on behalf of all teaching staff and managers at the merged college across all sites and locations. This will ensure that existing NEU members will still be covered by recognition arrangements even if their work location changes. It will also ensure that newly recruited teachers can continue to remain in or join the NEU as a recognised union.
The NJF joint advice and model recognition agreement, together with any existing NEU recognition for teaching staff and/or managers in the FE college, obviously support the case for continuing recognition for NEU across all sites and locations.
Where the NEU is not already recognised in the FE college, this approach will entail seeking recognition for the first time for teaching staff and managers in the FE college. NEU membership among those groups should be checked and contacted. Even where NEU membership among those groups is negligible, however, recognition should be sought covering all teachers and managers across all sites and locations.
If such an agreement cannot be secured, the aim should be to secure the continuation of recognition for all teaching staff at the former 6FC site. This should be set out in the formal recognition agreement or revised recognition agreement. The NEU does not accept that it is sufficient to refer to continuation of recognition as a provision protected under TUPE, as this downgrades the status of the NEU and might result in new appointees being told that the NEU is not recognised to represent them and negotiate on their behalf. It should be made clear that agreeing to NEU recognition only for teaching staff at the former 6FC site does not imply any agreement that fuller recognition rights may not be sought and granted in the future.
Recognition for teachers and managers in FE colleges where NEU is not currently recognised
The absence of existing NEU recognition in any FE college does not prevent NEU seeking recognition, particularly where there has been a growth in membership. The NEU is fully entitled to seek recognition in FE colleges and there is no agreement in place with TUC or other unions that it will not do so.
NEU recognition should be sought whenever NEU members in teaching or managerial roles want this to happen. As a “rule of thumb”, recognition should be pursued whenever NEU membership stands at 10% of the relevant group. In any situations where NEU membership is smaller, but members nonetheless want the NEU to be recognised, the members should be encouraged to seek to recruit more members from among lecturers not in any union before seeking recognition when membership reaches that level.
Care should be taken, however, in respect of pursuing recognition and recruitment activity at times when other unions are pursuing industrial action within any college.
Recognition for support staff
The TUC agreement on support staff recruitment and representation did not and does not apply in the general FE and sixth form college sectors. In any case where a significant group of NEU support staff members want the NEU to pursue recognition at local level in their college, contact your regional office for advice.
Recruitment in general FE and sixth form colleges
NEU representatives can seek to recruit new members in general FE and sixth form colleges in all capacities at any time. Again, however, care should be taken not to do this when other unions are pursuing industrial action. Existing members of other unions should never be approached and encouraged to join the NEU instead of their existing union.