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Branch Bulletin – Apr 2023

Branch AGM report

The Annual General Meeting of the Branch took place on Teams on Wednesday 19th April, with around 100 members attending.


Election of Branch Committee

The following branch officers were elected to the Branch Committee (BC) for 2023-24:

And Rosta – Branch Secretary

Mike Eslea – Assistant Branch Secretary

Tara Styles-Lightowlers – Branch Chair, Equalities Officer

Michael McKrell – Vice-Chair, Membership Secretary, Health & Safety Officer

Cath Sullivan – Treasurer, Health & Safety Officer

Peter Lucas – Branch Officer

Andrew Baron – Branch Officer, Union Learning Rep

In addition, Douglas Martin was elected as a Health & Safety rep


Outgoing Chair Michael McKrell welcomed Tara as the new Chair of the Branch. He also thanked branch officer Kerstin Wellhofer for her outstanding contribution to the work of the Branch Committee over the last two years and conveyed the branch’s best wishes for the future when she leaves UCLan in June. Mick also thanked out-going Membership Secretary Elaine Hill, who is taking a ‘sabbatical’ from the BC next year but hopes to return in 2024-25.


Branch Secretary’s Report


In his report, Branch Secretary And Rosta focussed on redundancy prevention as this has been the priority of the Branch Committee’s work over the last year. Management’s review of staffing in the Faculty of Culture and Creative Industries, and the accompanying work of the Redundancy Prevention Committee, has been curtailed for the current academic year, but next year in that faculty’s successor schools and in some other schools, the Redundancy Prevention work is likely to begin again, and threats of redundancy remain an issue across the University, which is  heavily reliant on overseas students to keep financially afloat, resulting in increasing pressures to reduce staffing in areas where demand for courses is falling. There is need for a proper redundancy prevention strategy focusing on full and partial VR and full and partial variation to duties; but it is only the deterrent effect of the branch’s resolve to take resolute effective industrial action in defence of members’ livelihoods that dissuades Management from resorting to the otherwise easier option of forcing through compulsory redundancies. Therefore we need every member of the branch to maintain a sustained commitment to actively support local industrial action to oppose compulsory redundancies, in the event that all other redundancy prevention measures were to have failed.


Treasurer’s Report:


Treasurer Cath Sullivan said that between last year’s AGM and the end of 2022 the branch has spent £285:

£50 donation to the Working Class Movement Library

£25 donation to Preston and South Ribble District Workers’ Memorial Day

£50 to Preston & South Ribble TUC

£10 to the Mechanics Centre Trust

£50 Affiliation to Hazards (Health and Safety)

£100 donation to the UCU Fighting Fund in support of colleagues in FE taking action on pay

For a copy of the accounts and any questions, please email Cath:


Membership Secretary’s Report:


Elaine Hill told the meeting that branch membership is currently 707 full members plus 38 student members and some retired, honorary and attached members. Numbers have held steady despite losses of staff from the University. Elaine stressed the need to increase numbers and improve membership in Schools were density is low in order to give us a stronger voice, especially in the current local and national circumstances. Elaine asked members to check their personal details are correct before the start of the 2023-24 academic year as the database will need to be changed due to the restructure so some people may inadvertently be mislocated. It is essential that the database is accurate for valid balloting to take place, so there are implications for members having a voice, and for industrial action, if it is inaccurate. Members can update their membership profile via:


Health and Safety Officers’ Report


Mick McKrell informed the meeting of changes to the management of Health and Safety at UCLan. Alongside the twice-yearly Health and Safety Committee meetings there are now regular meetings between Management and the joint-unions (UCU, Unison and Unite). These were agreed as part of the new Health and Safety policies are now available on the intranet, having been delayed by Covid. The unions were fully consulted on these and were able to make significant improvements, including  simplifying of the accident and near miss reporting processes. The policies also draw particular attention to the reporting of ‘near misses’ as these are under-reported at the University. Members are encouraged to go to the SHE webpages and use the relevant reporting forms to report accidents and – especially – near misses. This will help identify areas of the University where there are ‘accidents waiting to happen’. Please report near misses here:


‘UCU Rising’ and Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB)


And Rosta told members that with regards to the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) and potential further strike action, national policy is still being developed. There are widely diverging views about what should happen but the national guidance is clear. A Special Higher Education Sector Conference had met that morning and voted on a series motions (including HE4 which calls for strike action in May/June) which can be seen here: The Higher Education Committee is meeting on 28th April to decide next steps.


At UCLan – as at most other Universities –  Management have proposed pay deductions of 50% for those participating in the boycott. Staff have expressed anger at the tone of the emails from Management and many doubted whether they can afford to take part. Note that UCEA recommends that its members operate 50% pay docking for action short of a strike but they support up to 100% pay docking. Legally, it seems they do not accept that staff taking strike action are ‘partially performing’ but they are instead making a ‘goodwill’ payment as they are still covering some of their duties.


The Branch Committee asks that members do not leave UCU if they feel unable to participate in the boycott. Members will be needed for local action if management moves towards compulsory redundancy as the branch will be alone in this action.


We are aware that the MAB is likely to disrupt the university until the exam boards take place. Unless the dispute is resolved soon we plan to hold an EGM round the time of the boards to discuss the situation and a possible way forward.


Members present at the meeting then had opportunity to discuss and ask questions. It was suggested that maximum support for the MAB would act as a deterrent to Management contemplating redundancies; others raised concerns about the efficacy of the MAB given the measures put in place to counteract it. Others expressed dismay at the prospect of losing 50% pay for boycotting a relatively small amount of assessment. The view was expressed that more thought should have been given to co-ordinating and targeting the MAB.


Update: Management have now published their Mitigations for students in an attempt to neutralise/minimise the effect of the MAB. The branch committee is continuing to try and engage management with regard to MAB-related matters.


Motion to NW Regional Committee Orchard Nursey


Mick McKrell moved a motion to the Regional Committee proposing to send a message of solidarity – and to make a donation to – staff at Orchard Day Nursery in Knowsley who lost their jobs when the nursery suddenly closed after workers there had won union recognition and had taken action on pay. Carried. Update: This motion was carried at the UCU NW Regional AGM on 22nd April and a donation of £500 from the Regional Committee has been made to the Orchard Nursery Hardship Fund.


MAB: member survey and EGM


The Branch Committee has been asked to gather information about participation in the boycott. Please answer the simple, anonymous question (see email for link) so that we can provide this information.


The Branch Committee has also called an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Branch next week to discuss the Marking & Assessment Boycott. We will meet on Teams on Weds 3 May, 1.00-2.00pm. Check your email for the link.


UCU Branch Committee

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