A conflict of interest? Never seems to be an issue for the MUT. It would have us believe it can serve the interests of both managers and employees.
We at the UPE, on the other hand, do not believe in double-dealing. Our aim is and has always been to give one-hundred and twenty percent service to our members, to safeguard and advance their interests and not to attempt to appear simultaneously and miraculously on the two opposing sides of the negotiating table.
The latest example of the MUT’s folly can be found in the story of MCAST Lecturers. A large number of lecturers is very much concerned and frustrated by a union that has taken on the representation of managerial grades and still pretends to have the lecturers’ interests at heart. The newly-signed agreement for MCAST managerial grades can only undermine the MUT’s credibility in the eyes of the lecturers.
A very simple scenario illustrates the lecturers’ situation. A dispute arises at MCAST. Who does the MUT truly and unequivocally represent? Lecturing staff or the management? A little common sense – you cannot have it both ways. And when it is time for the negotiations for the next agreement, who will the MUT work hardest for? Which side will it fight for in the negotiations? Sleight of hand is always an illusion and it does not change the reality of a union that has divided itself at MCAST.
It is said that people vote with their feet. And so it is the case at MCAST. Once the stronghold of the MUT, the tables have started to turn. Many lecturers have opted not to renew their MUT membership; some have even stopped their direct debit payment with the MUT and have joined the UPE.
It has been part of the UPE’s ethos from its inception that a union cannot represent both parties without a conflict of interest arising. This is why we represent educational staff and not management. We cannot understand what lies behind the MUT’s MCAST move.
Given the present situation, these question must be asked:
Is the MUT a union for MCAST’s lecturers or for their managers?
How desperate is the MUT for individual memberships?