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P/T Lecturers in UK Fight for Their Rights

FURIOUS PART-TIME LECTURERS at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England, have forced their union to rethink a pay settlement they believe has sold them out. They are now engaged in an acrimonious dispute to oust their union’s officers.

The 7,700 associate lecturers are the OU’s public face throughout the United Kingdom, tutoring students and giving them phone and e-mail support. They are typically paid £3,200 ($5,676) to teach a nine-month course and many have other jobs in universities or colleges.

A pay modernization agreement negotiated with the OU by local officials of the Association of University Teachers was welcomed by full-time staff and featured in a full-page advertisement placed by the union in the Times Higher Education Supplement. It described the OU as “top of the class (commended).”

But representatives of the associate lecturers complained the deal left them well behind the rates for the university’s 1,100 full-time academic staff.
Nevertheless, union officers pressed ahead with a ballot of part-time members. The ballot secured a majority in favor of the deal, but this has not been officially recognized because of a dispute over whether the vote was valid.

The dispute developed with associate lecturers calling an emergency general

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