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Miscellaneous

Branch Bulletin – May 2022

Workload adjustment for extra bank holiday

Line managers of academic staff have been instructed to ensure that the normal 1.0 FTE (full time equivalent) workload maximum of 1581 hours is reduced to take account of the extra bank holiday. The appropriate reduction is 7.25 hours (pro rata), which is the reduction automatically enjoyed by staff on professional services contracts. UCU’s impression is that line managers have failed to proactively ensure the reduction is made, so we urge members to adjust their own workloads and where necessary seek confirmation from the line manager; UCU support is available with this in the unlikely event that it is needed.

 

Workload adjustment for strike action

Remember to make sure that the annual workload you are attempting to accomplish in the current year is reduced to take account of the work that your strike action has left undone and unpaid for. The appropriate reduction is 1581/365 hours per day of strike. For the full 13 days of strike action, this equates to a reduction of 56.3 hours.

 

Strike pay donation to Ukraine

UCU asked Management to donate pay docked for strike action to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Management have failed to communicate any response.

 

2022–23 BGM dates

UCU Branch General Meetings are held each year at 1330–1500 on the Wednesday of the 3rd, 13th and 23rd of the 24 teaching weeks, which next academic year will be 5th October 2022, 18th January 2023 and 19th April 2023. Reminders will be sent in advance of each meeting. Management have a standing commitment to ensure events are not scheduled to clash with BGMs.

 

A word from a new rep…

Being a rep is a new adventure for me. I hope to be of use to you as members and our branch collectively.

It is due to the steady, ongoing, clear and calm involvement of union reps, that I found my footing as a reluctant academic, learning the game of academia. I have had help with various issues and with their support I have become more autonomous and empowered as an academic.

When Management threatened the end of my course, and  closed down one course I was most passionate about and teaching on, it was the solidarity of my course team and the unfailing presence and willingness of the union to support us in fighting for our survival. It was you, in the branch, who fought for our jobs not to be axed. That was a huge gesture and I want to give something back by becoming a rep myself. I have gone and done the relevant training (it’s not as dreary as you might think, I encourage you to try it out), I made good new friends on the branch committee, dusted off the activist within, stood on picket lines, and am working towards familiarising myself with all the procedures to do what is right for you, the membership.

I bring a true passion for wellbeing, what it means to be yourself and well, not what others tell you to do to be well. Working life is integral to how we maintain health in all its facets, yet the shifts in the climate and conditions of our sector make this increasingly difficult to navigate and maintain. As your rep, in times of challenge, I hope to be supportive. I trust that the solidarity of belonging to a union, and the reminder that we are our union, allows you to dance with me, as I find courage and strength, with a good dose of creativity, to do my best in this role. Vielen Dank,  Kerstin.

 

UCU rep training

If you are interested in undertaking UCU rep training, with a view to working for the branch in future, please contact UCU (ucu@uclan.ac.uk). The next iteration of the first rep training course will take place online, 1000–1500 on Thursdays 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th June 2022. Your line manager should as far as possible be supportive in freeing you from other commitments at those times in order to enable you to attend.

 

Calling staff in research-only roles

If you are in one of the research-only roles (Senior Research Fellow, Research Fellow, Research Associate, Senior Research Assistant and Post-Doctoral Research Assistant) or are a Research Assistant, the Branch Committee would be grateful if you’d get in touch to discuss the issues that particularly affect these roles, including potential undergrading and lack of opportunities for progression and promotion to higher grades.

 

AGM report

Thank you to everyone who came to our AGM on 20th April. The first item for discussion was the “Four Fights” dispute. Assistant Secretary Mike Eslea presented the results of the recent ballot for industrial action, which saw a significant fall in turnout compared with the previous ballot, six months earlier. Although we voted 57%-43% in favour of strike action (and 80%-20% in favour of ASOS), turnout was only 36% and so the ballot failed to reach the 50% threshold required under tory anti-union laws. UCLan will NOT therefore be taking part in the next wave of action.

 

Mike also presented results from the recent member survey regarding the Four Fights strategy. 60 members responded (thank you if you did) and they were almost all people who had been active participants in the strikes so far. Responses were evenly divided over the question of whether combining four different fights was a good idea, but almost everyone agreed that all four were important issues (workload being the most important, by a short head). A large majority thought that aggregated ballots were preferable to the current disaggregated approach, which leaves only a small number of branches bearing the cost of striking. These results informed our delegates’ votes at the Special HE Sector Conference that was happening that day.

 

Next, Branch Secretary And Rosta presented his annual report, focusing on the main branch priorities:

  • Security of employment. The previous VC’s commitment that there would be no compulsory redundancies was reversed by the current VC, who insists that circumstances may well arise in which, regardless of the financial health of the university, Management would regard compulsory redundancies as necessary. The joint unions are working with Management on an updated Security of Employment policy: for teaching staff, the goal is that in situations where Management reckon an academic subject has a potentially problematic surplus of staffing relative to student demand, they will involve UCU and the subject team in seeking consensual resolutions (such as variations in staff deployment) that will forestall Management issuing threats of redundancy. The updated policy will also delineate more carefully the stages that would follow any such threat, and it remains standing branch policy that if a threat of redundancy is issued then UCU will begin the process of balloting for local industrial action and will take what industrial action is necessary to protect members’ livelihoods.
  • Decasualization. Thanks to the efforts of the unions, the university policy is that Fixed-Term Contracts (including hourly-paid) should be used only as a last resort and only with an explicit written justification, which must be of a sort agreed with the unions to be valid. The incidence of FTC abuses has drastically diminished in recent years, but nevertheless instances in which managers have failed to observe the university policy still come to light: therefore UCU encourage all members on FTCs to contact the Branch Committee to check that their FTC is licit.
  • Workload. Management continue to drag their heels in reconvening the workload committee. But nevertheless, even in those schools (e.g. Medical School) where workload management remains unacceptably bad, it has been improving, and the quantity of workload-related UCU casework has drastically fallen this year. It continues to be a branch priority, and we are confident of being able to resolve workload issues when members seek support.
  • Academic Freedom (freedom from threats to livelihood and from harassment) and Equality are always priorities for the branch, but no instances of cases involving either have emerged at UCLan in recent memory.
  • Pay has historically not been foremost among members’ priorities, but the cost-of-living crisis has changed that. Pay is of course negotiated nationally, not locally. UCLan’s main source of income comes from student fees, so for as long as student fees remain capped, the university’s scope for paying salary increases comes not from increasing fee income but from reducing non-staffing spending and increasing the proportion of income spent on staffing.

 

Branch Treasurer Cath Sullivan presented the financial accounts for 2020-21. The Branch had spent only £100 in the year, in affiliations and donations to the local Trades Council and Manchester Hazards Centre. We ended the year with £508.57 in the bank.

 

Your UCU Branch Committee 2022-23

At the AGM, elections were held for the Branch Committee for 2022-23. No new nominations had been received in advance, so the existing Committee was nominated as a slate and elected nem con:

And Rosta [Branch Secretary]

Andrew Baron [Union Learning Rep]

Cath Sullivan [Treasurer/Health & Safety Rep]

Elaine Hill [Membership Secretary/Green Rep]

Kerstin Wellhofer [Branch Officer]

Michael McKrell [Branch Chair/Health & Safety Rep]

Mike Eslea [Assistant Branch Secretary]

Peter Lucas [Branch Officer]

Tara Styles-Lightowlers [Vice Chair/Equality Officer]

Also elected as a Health & Safety Rep, but not to the Committee, was Douglas Martin. Welcome to the team, Dougie!

 

Support striking colleagues in FE

UCU branches in seven Further Education colleges are taking strike action over the failure of the employers to offer a pay rise that keeps pace with the cost of living crisis, the rate of inflation and the drop in the value of FE pay over the last decade. The branches all returned a substantial majority for strike action and action short of strike action and easily met the threshold of 50% required by the anti-trade union laws. The activists in these branches deserve great praise for all that they have done so far.

The branches taking action are; Burnley College, Bury College, Hopwood Hall College, City of Liverpool College, Oldham College and Nelson & Colne College Group (action commencing on 18th May) and The Manchester College, (starting 20th May). If you live near any of these colleges an can spare the time, please go along and visit the pickets – your solidarity will be much appreciated. There will also be an online rally on May 18th at 1pm – the link will be sent out by the NW Regional Office.

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Branch Bulletin – March 2022

Forthcoming strike action

Members will be aware that the national union’s Higher Education Committee has called for further strike action in the Four Fights dispute. Different institutions will be taking action on two separate weeks. At UCLan, five days of action will take place from Monday 21st to Friday 25th March. The Branch Committee acknowledges that some members will be finding further action in this dispute difficult for a number of reasons. However, for as long as the mandate (which members voted for) is live, members should adhere to the strike call and not do any work for the University on those days.

 

Fighting Fund

Members who are in genuine financial hardship can consider making a claim from the union’s Fighting Fund, but we would stress that the fund is intended only for those members in dire financial straits and is not a compensation scheme for lost pay. Information about the Fighting Fund can be found at: UCU – UCU fighting fund 2021/2022

 

Pickets

Following a meeting of the UCU branch strike committee today, the Branch Committee has endorsed a proposal that picketing take place on Monday 21st and Thursday 24th March from 08.30 to 11.30. Please meet outside the EIC (Engineering Building) adjacent to Adelphi Square.

 

Withheld strike pay for Ukraine

Last week, UCU asked that Management donate all pay withheld as a consequence of next week’s strike to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. We also asked for swift confirmation of this. To their discredit, Management have not responded. UCLan UCU will continue to press for all pay deductions to be used to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

 

Four Fights reballot

Members will be have received notification from the General Secretary that the national union is reballoting members on the continuation of the Four Fights dispute. The ballot is now open and runs until Friday 5th April. Please keep an eye out for your ballot paper which should arrive in the next few days.

 

Covid/Health & Safety update

In response to requests from UCU, Management have now provided a report on ventilation measures currently in place in University buildings and proposals for upgrading ventilation and air circulation systems for the future. UCU will continue to raise this and other Covid-related matters via the joint-union-Management Covid meetings, which will move from a weekly to a monthly basis. Advice remains that any Covid matters be raised with your line manager (Head or Deputy Head of School in most cases) in the first instance.

UCU has been consulted on the University’s Health & Safety strategy and has called for greater resources to be devoted to tackling the causes of work-related stress (particularly excessive workloads) and for improved workplace wellbeing. We continue to meet with Management via regular joint-union H&S meetings in addition to the Covid meetings.

 

Pensions dispute at Staffordshire University – show your support – sign the petition

Members may have read about the proposal by Management at Staffordshire University to cease entitlement to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme  to new academic starters. UCU members at that branch have voted decisively to resist this unprecedented move to drive down terms and conditions and create a ‘two tier’ academic workforce at that institution. You can read more about the dispute here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12195/Staff-at-Staffordshire-University-set-to-walk-out-over-two-tier-workforce-threat

As we know, Management at UCLan ended entitlement to the Local Government Pension Scheme for new professional services starters at the University this year, but Management at Staffordshire are the first to launch such an outrageous attack on academic staff. It is vital that this move be defeated, since this could potentially establish a precedent for the whole post-92 HE sector. Branch Chair Mick McKrell has sent a message of support to Staffordshire UCU and we ask members to support the campaign by signing the petition here: https://speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/staffordshire-university-no-to-a-two-tier-system/

 

iROWE Seminar – menopause in the workplace

‘Supporting staff going through menopause in the workplace. The UK has one of the highest percentages of women in the workplace in Europe and this, coupled with an ageing workforce and a tight labour market makes the management of the menopause in the workplace a highly relevant topic. However, staff experiencing symptoms of the menopause may feel unsupported in the workplace, and their symptoms trivialised. It is vital that employers provide sensitive and appropriate support for staff experiencing symptoms of the menopause, not least because Acas and the Employment Tribunals are seeing an increase in claims associated with sex, disability and age’.

Tuesday 26th April, 1:00 – 2:00pm. To book a place on this online event go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/menopause-in-the-workplace-tickets-260913327787

 

AGM reminder

The Annual General Meeting of the Branch will be on Wednesday 20th April, 13.30 – 15.00 via Teams: check your emails for the link.

 

NWTUC Blackpool Protest cancelled

The Cost of Living protest by NWTUC planned for Saturday March 19th in Blackpool has been cancelled.

 

Dates for your diary:

Saturday 2nd April– Cost of Living Protest, Preston Flag Market, 11.00-13.00, organised by Preston Trades Council.

Saturday 30th April – Preston Workers’ Memorial Day, Preston Flag Market, 11.45am. After speeches and a piped lament there will be a short procession along Friargate to the Peace Gardens. Wreaths will be placed on the Preston Martyrs’ memorial outside the 1842 Bar (the old Corn Exchange) on Lune Street. All welcome.

 

UCU Branch Committee

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Branch Bulletin – Feb 2022

Four Fights strike dates

Members will be aware that further strike dates have been announced in the ‘Four Fights’ dispute, those dates being;

Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd February

Monday 28th February, Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd March

Remember, contrary to the inaccurate and misleading letter that has been circulated by Management, the grounds for this dispute are not just headline pay, shocking though the erosion of real-terms pay has been in the last ten years. It is also about the failure of the sector to tackle inequality (people not being paid the same for the work they do due to their gender, ethnicity or disability), unsustainable levels of workload across the sector, and the sector’s reliance on a reservoir of staff on insecure, short-term contracts. UCLan UCU voted 73% Yes for strike action and 87% Yes for ASOS. We expect all members to respect the outcome of the ballot and to heed the call to take action, whether they voted for it or not.

For more on the ‘Four Fights’ dispute please go to: https://www.ucu.org.uk/he2021

Remember that you are not obliged to inform your line manager (Head or Deputy Head of School) whether or not you will be taking strike action and we recommend that you decline to do so. The union has fulfilled all its legal requirements in terms of notice to the employer of strike action.

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the strike action here. Please check these before contacting branch officers with your questions.

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11818/Four-fights-dispute-FAQs

 

Pickets and protest rallies.

Please come along to our pickets and show support for striking colleagues and other branches taking action: We will be picketing from 0800 – 1000, followed by protest gatherings until 12.00 noon.

You can sign up for particular time slots (check your email for the link) to let us know you’re coming along, but feel free to just turn up.

 

ASOS Guidance

Instructions on ASOS (Action Short of Strike)

The following are the UCU instructions and advice on ASOS, adapted to the local circumstances at UCLan and approved by UCU Regional Office and where necessary Head Office.

  • Don’t undertake duties that aren’t on your workload plan and that can’t be reasonably understood to fall within some more general item on the workload plan.
  • Don’t reschedule classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action unless your workload plan has been modified to include this additional task.
  • As always, don’t accept a workload plan that doesn’t match reality or that is over maximum hours.
  • Your line manager may revise your workload plan by convening an appraisal meeting with you to agree revisions to it. The process of agreeing proposed revisions should involve considering any objections you might have, and your reluctance to weaken the force of ASOS is a valid consideration. If your line manager insists on certain revisions to your workload plan despite your objections, and you are reluctant to accept your line manager’s demands, don’t just refuse them but rather contact UCU for advice and support.
  • Do not upload or share materials related to classes that have been cancelled as a result of strike action. Remove uploaded materials (related to classes that have been cancelled as a result of strike action) if and only if they have not already been shared with students.

 

NUS Student Strike

The NUS (National union of Students has also called for a student strike on Wednesday 2nd March as part of their ‘New Vision for Education’ campaign.

https://www.nus.org.uk/campaign-hub/new-vision-for-education?i=0

UCU will be meeting with the local SU to discuss both the Four Fights action and the student strike.

You might also find this NUS briefing on the strikes useful:

UCU_Strike_Briefing__Autumn_2021_briefing.pdf (nusdigital.s3.amazonaws.com)

 

Branch Meeting Report

At the Branch General Meeting on 19th January, the following matters were discussed;

Branch Officer Andrew Baron reported on the strike action in December, highlighting the effectiveness of the pickets and strike protests. Krissi Musiol gave an excellent account of on being a first-time participant in strike action and branch activism. We hope Krissi’s example will have encouraged other members to get involved. Branch Secretary And Rosta and Chair Mick McKrell gave a general summary of the national strike situation and reiteration of ASOS advice (see ‘ASOS Guidance’ above). Health and Safety officers Cath Sullivan and Mick McKrell update the meeting on the work of the joint union-Management COVID-19 meetings (see ‘Covid update’ below). Mick McKrell proposed a branch motion to UCU Congress calling for an end to the outsourcing of student support services. This was in response  to the growing problem of students who are struggling to access support for specific learning needs, as these have now been outsourced to private providers, rather than provided through UCLan. The motion, which called on the union to campaign alongside the Students’ Union and other campus unions, was carried overwhelmingly. Finally, Green rep Elaine Hill reminded members that there will be a meeting on Wednesday  16th February between 14.00 and 16.00 for any UCU members interested in working on green issues at UCLan. The meeting will be on Teams- check your email for the link.

 

Covid/Health and Safety update

Further to previous updates, the University SHE team and Estates are currently working on a draft protocol for managing CO₂ levels in workspaces and this will be brought to the unions for consultation. In the meantime, any concerns regarding safe working should be reported to the estates help desk and raised with your line manager in the first instance. Overnight air changes will occur in rooms which are mechanically ventilated, so air will be completely changed from the previous day. UCU repeated our request that information relating to ventilation be made available on the on-line room booking system.

Members who have studied the University’s Strategic Plan may have noticed that there was no mention at all of Health and Safety, as though the Covid pandemic had never happened! This is now being rectified and the trades unions will be consulted on a new strategy for managing workplace health and safety at UCLan.

 

Changes to TPS

Members of the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme (TPS) who have supplied their email address to the TPS should have received an email outlining the changes to the scheme due to come into effect in April. If you have not received such an email, you can fins out about the changes and how and whether they affect you by looking on the TPS website: https://www.teacherspensions.co.uk/

 

Cost of Living Protests in the North West

UCU NW Region, alongside Unison NW, NW Unite, local trades councils and the NW TUC are sponsoring protests in the Region against the spiralling cost of living, cuts to pensions and universal credit and real-terms pay cuts. The protests will take place this Saturday, 12th February at these venues:

Liverpool – St Luke’s Church (aka. ‘the bombed out church’) at 12.00 noon

Manchester – The Wellington Statue, Piccadilly Gardens at 1.00 pm

Please support these protests if you can.

 

‘On the Table’

Other matters currently being discussed by UCU and management include; Being able to find out who your line manager is on iTrent, honoraria payments, L to SL progression guidelines, and the setting of research targets.

We hope to report on these discussions in future bulletins.

 

Dates for your Diary:

Saturday 19th March: North West TUC protest at the Conservative Party Spring Conference, Blackpool Promenade, 11.00. Show your strength of feeling towards the Government and call on them act to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Wednesday 20th April: UCLan UCU Annual General Meeting of the Branch, 13.30-15.00 via Teams

Saturday 30th April: Preston Workers Memorial Day. Preston Flag Market, 11.45am

 

UCU Branch Committee

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Workload 2020-21

UCLan UCU sent out our 2019 workload advice containing UCLan intranet weblinks to the relevant university documents. Without informing UCU, Management broke the weblinks and rendered the documents unfindable. We are therefore supplying links to the documents here. Note that not all the university documents are worth reading, so read the updated UCU workload advice 2021 first; the university document “WLM Expectations agreed UCU” is crucial, “Academic Workload Considerations 2019 Final” is useful, and “WLM 2019 final” adds nothing useful and is not worth reading.

In 2019-2020 it has remained the case that some schools have been disregarding university workload policy. If your school or your appraisal is not following university workload policy, and above all the principle that there must be a faithful match between workload plan and workload actuality, contact UCU for support. UCU advice is to draft your own workload plan, making sure it is not above maximum hours, that it includes all duties you expect to undertake and that the hours allocated to duties reflect actuality.  In particular the duties must include 175 hours (pro rata) of SMRSA (Self Managed Research & Scholarly Activity). If members of an academic team are able to coordinate workload plans, checking that all duties are taken account of, that is even better. As soon as possible, send the proposed workload plan to the appraiser, who may need to negotiate changes to it with you. If anything proves contentious in this process, contact UCU for support.

 

 

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