A former president of the Educational Institute of Scotland's further education wing has admitted that the union could face a serious crisis unless the membership becomes more involved.
John Cassidy, a lecturer at Cardonald College in Glasgow, points out that all members of the current national executive of the College Lecturers' Association were elected unopposed, apart from the three women who have reserved seats. This lack of interest has spread to college branches where there is very little "new blood" coming forward to stand for office, he says.
Writing in the union's Scottish Educational Journal, he blames artly the legacy of the Thatcher years when the value of union membership was questioned. "Many lecturers started their working lives during this period and, as a result, never developed a knowledge of the workings of the wider trade union movement, never mind the CLA."
But Mr Cassidy believes lecturers' workload and the impact of local bargaining have also combined to make union activism less appealing. He suggests that one result is that the CLA executive has lost the national perspective it had when there was national bargaining and it had been slow to respond to the plethora of management "initiatives".