Information from Head Office – February 2021

Feb 9th, 2021 | By | Category: Further information

Consultative ballot:
Members in higher education (HE) should have received an email inviting you to vote on whether you wish to accept or reject the employers’ ‘final offer’ on our 2020-21 pay and conditions claim. The email is from ‘takepart@cesvotes.com’ and will have the subject line ‘UCU consultative ballot on UCEA final offer 2020/21’ and a link for you to cast your vote online (click here if you have checked your spam folder and still cannot find it). The union’s HE negotiators recommend that members reject the offer. The consultation which is being run by Civica (formerly Electoral Reform Society (ERS)) will close at 12 noon on Tuesday 23 February 2021.

Industrial action survey:
Please also fill in the online HE industrial action survey which closes Wednesday 17 February and is your opportunity to let those who make decisions about UCU industrial action know your views.

Branch briefings:
A series of online briefings are also being held so please talk to your branch if you are interested in being a delegate: 18 February 2021, HE branch briefing

Remember Donna Coleman: Covid death at Burnley College

We’re very sorry to report the death of longstanding UCU member Donna Coleman who had contracted Covid-19. Donna, who worked with vulnerable students at Burnley College, was just 42 and leaves behind family and friends. UCU will remember Donna and all workers who have lost their lives to this virus as we continue the fight for safe workplaces.

‘Falling Short’ report: Pandemic PGRs

Pandemic PGRs has published a damning report on the treatment of postgraduate researchers (PGRs). The report blasts UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for ignoring and misrepresenting data from its own research and calls for the funder to work with universities and the government to ensure that all PGRs are provided with the funding that they require. UCU’s annual meeting of staff on casualised contracts takes place on 13 March.

Take action against workplace racism

UCU’s annual week of action against workplace racism will be held from the week beginning Monday 22 February 2021. This annual campaign event has grown from strength to strength as it involves a whole union approach in tackling the issues of workplace racism and its impact on careers, mental health and well-being and relationships with peers and students. Activities will take place across the union and a webinar is planned for Wednesday 24 February. Please let Chris Nicholas know what you are planning in your workplace.

University of Liverpool UCU defending jobs and vital Covid research

University of Liverpool UCU branch is consulting members over potential industrial action to stop plans to sack 47 staff from health and life sciences. The cuts are impacting a faculty that is part of Liverpool STOP COVID, a city-wide group whose aim is to decrease the burden of the pandemic locally, nationally and globally.

Stop job cuts at University of Leeds: sign and share the petition

Please sign the petition to stop proposed job cuts in medicine and biological sciences at Leeds. The university refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies, reports an operating surplus of £38 million and has failed to provide any financial rationale for the cuts.

Senior management survey 2.0: Covid-19, moral injury academic staff survey

Following on from the successful senior management survey in 2017, the same team has launched a new senior management survey in the context of the pandemic. The focus of this survey is on higher education (HE) staff experiences of working throughout the pandemic, with a particular focus on how supportive senior managers have been and the extent to which staff have had to act against what they feel is morally right. The survey takes 5-10 minutes and can be found here.

Solidarity with staff and students at Boğaziçi University in Turkey

UCU has been supporting the campaign for academic freedom and university autonomy at Boğaziçi University in Turkey and we have raised concerns about the detention and ill-treatment of student protestors, including specific threats to a number of LGBT+ students. Amnesty have launched an online petition demanding justice for the ill-treated students.

TUC LGBT+ conference

TUC LGBT+ conference 25 and 26 February 2021. The conference is online. Book your free place today and join trade unionists from across the UK for key debates and issues affecting LGBT+ workers. This is open to members who identify as LGBT+ and those who support LGBT+ rights.

UCU NEC elections

Elections are now underway for UCU’s officer and national executive committee (NEC) positions and you can find out more here. If you did not receive or lost your ballot papers you can request a replacement here. Voting closes on 23 February 2021.

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Previous information:

UCU consultative ballot on UCEA final offer 2020/21

On Monday members working in higher education (HE) (see here for list of employers participating in JNCHES) will receive an email inviting you to vote on whether you wish to accept or reject the employers’ ‘final offer’ on our 2020-21 pay and conditions claim. Please look out for an email from ‘takepart@cesvotes.com’ which will have the subject line ‘UCU consultative ballot on UCEA final offer 2020/21’ and will include a link for you to cast your vote online. The union’s HE negotiators recommend that members reject the offer. The consultation which is being run by Civica (formerly Electoral Reform Society (ERS)) and will close at 12 noon on Tuesday 23 February 2021.

Please remember to fill in the online HE industrial action survey which you will also have received by email from Civica (‘from’ address is ‘noreply@qemailserver.com’). This closes Wednesday 17 February and is your opportunity to let those who make decisions about UCU industrial action know your views. 

Higher education branch briefings February 2021

In line with the decisions made at the HE sector conference in December, registration is now open for three HE branch briefings, which will take place on 12, 15 and 18 February. In anticipation that the sessions will be popular, each branch can register up to two representatives for one of the briefings. In advance of the briefings your representatives asked find out your branches views on five set questions that will inform both the discussions at the briefings and the feedback given to the HEC who will decide the next steps when it meets on 26 February.

Up to two representatives from your branch can register for one of the briefings. Please talk to your branch before registering if you are interested in being a delegate:

Further education: pay gap with school teachers widens

More teachers than ever are leaving the college sector within two years as data shows the gap with school teachers has risen to an average of 9,000 pounds per year. UCU’s head of further education Andrew Harden said it was “no surprise to see undervalued teachers continuing to leave the profession. In real terms further education teachers have seen their pay cut by 30 per cent over the past decade. Last year the government increased the sector’s funding by 400 million pounds, yet further education colleges refused to use it to pay staff more.”

Prison education safety campaign

This week Coventry MP Zarah Sultana supported our campaign for safety for prison education staff by raising the issue of unnecessary on site working during the pandemic you can watch her calling on ministers to ‘stop this reckless practice’ here. Meanwhile UCU has written to the Ministry of Justice to raise ongoing concerns about the treatment of prison education staff working for Novus, England and Wales’ biggest prison education provider.

University student support announcement

UCU has described the financial package announced for students hit by the pandemic, as a ‘sticking plaster’. Jo Grady said: “The government needs to go further and provide proper funding to avoid irreparable long-term damage to the sector’s reputation.” 

University of Liverpool threat to jobs and Covid research

University of Liverpool UCU branch is consulting members over potential industrial action to stop plans to sack 47 staff from health and life sciences. The cuts are impacting a faculty that is part of Liverpool STOP COVID, a city-wide group whose aim is to decrease the burden of the pandemic locally, nationally and globally. UCU Liverpool branch president Anthony O’Hanlon said: ‘The University of Liverpool is attempting to utilise ‘rank and yank’ practices to get rid of its perceived low performers. This brutal assault on jobs is more akin to the ruthless managerialism you would expect to see at a big corporate firm. It is not being proposed out of financial necessity.’

Stop job cuts at University of Leeds: sign the petition

Please sign the petition to stop proposed job cuts in medicine and biological sciences at Leeds. The university refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies, reports an operating surplus of 38 million pounds and has failed to provide any financial rationale for the cuts.

Fight for fair pensions 

UCU has called on employers in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to join us in demanding a change of approach to the ongoing 2020 valuation of the pension scheme. The union welcomed Oxford and Cambridge universities’ joint letter to USS chief executive Bill Galvin raising concerns over the scheme’s valuation. Jo Grady said ‘We have no confidence in the approach USS has taken in valuing university staff pension pots and Oxford and Cambridge universities are right to join with their respective UCU branches in raising the alarm.’ You can read the full story here. 

Defending jobs at University of Central Lancashire

The UCU branch at the University of Central Lancashire is resisting compulsory redundancies, has lodged a dispute and an industrial action ballot opens next week ballot. Please send messages of support to branch chair Michael McKrell.

TUC women’s conference 3-5 March 2021

This year’s TUC women’s conference 3-5 March 2021 will be an online event and, for the first time, individual women trade union members can participate by registering directly with the TUC. The places are free. Anyone wishing to attend must sign up by 17 February. For more information about the conference and to sign up see here.

Best wishes

Justine Stephens
UCU head of campaigns

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