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Miscellaneous

Branch Bulletin – May 2024

In this Bulletin:

AGM Report 1: Redundancy Prevention

AGM Report 2: Local Subscriptions

AGM Report 3: Your New Branch Committee

Unison Learning At Work Week

UCU Equality Conference

Check Your Details

 

AGM Report 1: Redundancy Prevention

Prior to April 2024, Redundancy Prevention Committee had been focused on Humanities, but had been suspended as a plan was in place to resolve the issues there. UCU were seeking to negotiate a conditional agreement that for a rolling period of at least three years there will be no compulsory redundancies that would result in loss of livelihood. Management indicated their willingness to enter into negotiations on this matter, but the negotiations remained at a very early stage. In April 2024, Management announced that the financial outlook was far worse than predicted, and that UCLan was facing a £25m deficit for 2024-25. UCU HQ’s financial expert will check over UCLan’s figures (when they’re given to us properly), but the problems are sector-wide so we have no real reason to doubt the financial picture being painted, and the danger has been on the horizon for a long-time.

* If any members have financial/accounting expertise and could help us scrutinise the data when it comes, please email ucu@uclan.ac.uk

UCLan Management’s recovery plan is to try to cut costs by £15m next year, to reduce the deficit to £10m. Approx £5m can come from non-staffing costs, leaving £10m to be cut from the staffing budget. This equates to approximately 160 jobs. UCU have secured a Management commitment that Phase 1 (under way now) is to be confined to genuinely voluntary redundancies, and that any future process that might culminate in CRs would be begun anew.

UCU’s overriding aim is to secure members’ livelihoods. There’s a good chance we can continue to achieve this aim. Nevertheless, we must be ready for resolute industrial action if further persuasion is necessary. The following motion was passed overwhelmingly, with 99% in favour, only one vote against and one abstention:

This branch is resolutely committed to defending its members’ livelihoods. In the event that Management initiate a process that could culminate in a member compulsorily losing their livelihood, the branch will ballot its members to seek a mandate for industrial action.

 

AGM Report 2: Local Subscriptions

At the previous Branch General Meeting, we voted to institute a hardship fund. In order to build this fund up to useful levels, we proposed at the AGM to institute a local branch subscription, to be hypothecated to meet the level of expenditure regularly needed by the branch, and to support industrial action in local disputes, such that criteria for disbursement from the hardship fund would be agreed by future quorate branch meetings, based on the conditions at the time. This motion was passed overwhelmingly, with 95% in favour, only four votes against and one abstention. This subscription will be automatically deducted, along with the national subscription, from the usual direct debit.

A further motion was proposed, that (i) In the event that local subs are low, and the local hardship fund does not contain enough money to allow at that time the disbursements that branch policy at the time would dictate, the branch will maintain a record of the payments that branch disbursement policy required but which could not be made. (ii) In this event, at the earliest AGM the branch will vote on whether to increase local subs to a level that will allow the recorded unpaid disbursements to be paid retrospectively. (iii) In passing this motion, the branch affirms its hope and wish that in the event of such a vote at a future AGM, the branch will vote to increase local subs to a level that will allow the recorded unpaid disbursements to be paid retrospectively. This motion was also passed overwhelmingly, with 94% in favour, only three votes against and five abstentions.

A series of motions followed in which we decided the level of the local subscription. Three possibilities were available: a minimal figure, a medium figure, and a high level figure (meaning that it is at the top of the range of subscriptions charged by other UCU branches detailed here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/localsubs).

The AGM chose the following local subscription rates:

Salary £60k+   £15.00

Salary £40k+   £10.00

Salary £30k+   £ 7.50

Salary £22k+    £ 5.50

Salary £15k+    £ 3.75

Salary £ 5k+     £ 1.25

Salary below £5k    £0.00

Retired members    £0.00

Attached members (not employed by UCLan) £0

We have reported this decision to Regional Office, but have not heard yet when the additional deductions will start. The rate can only be changed at an AGM and will be reviewed annually.

 

AGM Report 3: Your New Branch Committee

There had been no new nominations for the Branch Committee, so the following slate was elected nem con:

  • Aina Mir Fons [Branch Officer]
  • And Rosta [Branch Secretary]
  • Andrew Baron [Union Learning Rep]
  • Cath Sullivan [Membership Secretary/Health & Safety Rep]
  • Danila Datti [Green Rep]
  • Mike Eslea [Treasurer/Assistant Branch Secretary]
  • Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel [Branch Officer]
  • Tara Styles-Lightowlers [Branch Chair/Equality Officer]
  • Douglas Martin [Health & Safety Rep – Not on Branch Committee]

It was noted that two Branch Committee stalwarts, Mick McKrell and Peter Lucas, were standing down from the BC and leaving UCLan after many years of devoted service. Both have played a huge role in sustaining and developing the branch, in negotiating with Management and supporting members through casework. Mick also did a huge amount of work in Regional and National UCU, having been on the NEC and serving as NW Regional Secretary, and in liaison with other unions via the local Trades Councils. Both will be difficult to replace, and we wish them well for the future. The AGM heard several heartfelt tributes from fellow officers, and we will miss them both enormously.

 

Unison Learning At Work Week

Members may be interested in a series of events being run by our sister union, Unison, for this year’s “Learning At Work Week”: https://uclan.unison.site/events/learning-at-work-13th-17th-may-2024/

All the events are free to all UCLan colleagues, and there are some very interesting topics available.

 

UCU Equality Research Conference

Similarly, members should also be aware of the forthcoming UCU Equality Research Conference. This is a one-day hybrid event for academics and activists conducting research in equality. The conference will explore how people across (and within) equality groups have experienced or are experiencing actions and discourse around discrimination and equality. The conference is free of charge and open to members and non-members. It will take place on Friday 17 May (10:30-16:30) at the University of Manchester and online. Click here to register: https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/ucu-equality-research-conference-2024/. The registration deadline has passed but we are told that new registrations will still be accepted.

One of the speakers at the conference will be our own Andrew Baron, giving a paper on stress and gender in HE, so it would be great if some UCLan members were to go along and show him support.

 

Check Your Details

Finally, all members please be on the lookout for an email from UCU Head Office (subject line “Help us to help you”) asking you to check your details on the MyUCU website: https://www.ucu.org.uk/myucu

It is extremely important that these details are accurate. It is even possible that a successful ballot for industrial action could be ruled invalid if member details were wrong, so it is worth taking a few minutes every year to make sure it is all correct and that you are paying the correct subs.

Please pay particular attention to the “Employment” tab, which shows which School you are in, and which building is your main place of work. If your particular combination of School and building does not appear in the drop-down list, please email Membership Secretary Cath Sullivan: csullivan@uclan.ac.uk.

 

UCLan UCU Branch Committee

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Branch Bulletin – March 2024

This Bulletin contains some senstive information so we are not posting it here. Members please check your emails for your copy.

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Branch Bulletin – January 2024

Colleagues,

 

In this bulletin:

BGM Reminder & Agenda

Contact Hours Per Credit

Tax Relief on Subscriptions

 

 

Branch General Meeting

 

A reminder that our first BGM of the new year is next week: Weds 24 January, 1.30-3.00 via Teams. Members for whom we have a UCLan email address have already been sent a calendar appointment. Anyone else will need to join via the link.

If you would like a calendar invitation for future meetings, make sure one of the addresses on MyUCU is your UCLan one (it doesn’t have to be the “preferred” one).

Agenda items will include: Redundancy prevention & our attempts to obtain a management guarantee of no compulsory redundancies; Management abuses of grade G agreements, and our collective dispute over these; A proposal to add a local levy to Branch subscriptions, in order to build the hardship fund; The forthcoming General Secretary & NEC elections; Branch membership and density.

 

 

Contact Hours Per Credit

 It has been reported to UCU that management in some Schools have proposed a standard 2 hours per 20 credits. In early 2016, UCU negotiated an agreement on contact hours per credit. The agreement is that there’s a band within which the number of contact hours is within the discretion of the subject team. For contact hours beyond the discretionary maximum and minimum, approval of school management is required. Enforcing a “standard” would be in breach of this agreement.

 

Level Min contact hours per 20 credits Max contact hours per 20 credits Hours per credit
3 40 60 2-3
4 40 60 2-3
5 30 60 1.5/3
6 30 60 1.5/3

 

 

Tax Relief on Subscriptions

Members are reminded that HMRC allows tax relief on 67% of UCU subscription fees. Claims can be backdated over four years. If you are doing a tax return at the moment, you can claim it there. If not, you can claim by post or telephone: details are here https://my.ucu.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/469

 

 

 

 

UCLan UCU Branch Committee

 

 

 

 

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Branch Bulletin – October 2022

Colleagues,

 

In this bulletin:

Branch General Meeting reminder

TPS Pensions

Workload

 

Branch General Meeting

 

A reminder that our first BGM of the academic year is next week: Weds 18 Oct, 1.30-3.00 via Teams. Members for whom we have a UCLan email address have already been sent a calendar appointment. Anyone else will need to join via the link.

If you would like a calendar invite for future meetings, make sure one of the addresses on MyUCU is your UCLan one (it doesn’t have to be the “preferred” one).

Agenda items will include: “UCU Rising” dispute and new ballot, Discussion of Equality issues, and a proposal to establish a Branch Hardship Fund to support members in future disputes.

 

TPS Pensions

 

On 1st October the latest changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme resulting from the ‘McCloud Judgement’* were made. This judgement relates to an age discrimination case that was successfully brought against public sector pension schemes. To address the age discrimination that took place in 2015, changes have been  made to public sector schemes, including the TPS. Importantly, the latest changes bring about potential access to certain time limited benefits (such as the opportunity to buy out some of the actuarial adjustment that would otherwise happen for people taking their pension before their normal pension age).To check how this might affect you, check the latest UCU information as soon as possible: https://www.ucu.org.uk/tps

 

Workload

 

Attached to this bulletin is the new university Academic Workload Guidance document, which supersedes all other university-wide and school-specific workload documents; its contents are the same as the “Academic Workload Model” document at https://msuclanac.sharepoint.com/sites/DevelopmentPortal/SitePages/Academic-Workload-Management.aspx. Management and UCU have worked together on this document and have agreed its contents for 2023 on the understanding that the negotiations will continue into the next academic year with the goal of producing for 2024 a stable version that includes elements that had to be excluded from the 2023 version because, partly due to lack of time, Management and UCU had not reached an agreement on their inclusion. Management have told UCU that they have brought the new document to the attention of all academic staff. When Management circulate workload documents, members rightly contact us to check whether it has been agreed with UCU: so in this case, the answer is that it has been agreed with UCU, but only for the next academic year, 2023–24.

 

There remains one respect in which UCU feel the document is unsatisfactory because Management failed to make reasonable efforts to negotiate a satisfactory position. This is the treatment of annual leave. The academic contract stipulates that a request for up to six weeks of annual leave to be taken consecutively will not be unreasonably refused. What the Academic Workload Guidance document should make clear, but doesn’t, is that provided the request is made sufficiently early in the workload planning process and provided you are flexible over the timing of the six-week block, there is a normal expectation that a refusal would be unreasonable and that therefore the request would be granted. We hope this will be rectified for the 2024 version, but in the meantime if your request for up to six weeks’ consecutive annual leave is not granted, please contact UCU and UCU will intervene if the failure to grant the request was unreasonable.

 

 

 

UCLan UCU Branch Committee

 

 

 

 

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Workload Information 2023-24

Here is the 2023-24 Academic Workload Guidance 2023-24 document, agreed between UCLan management and UCU.

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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: CSullivan@uclan.ac.uk

 

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: https://my.ucu.org.uk/app/utils/login_form/redirect/membership%252Fmy_details/

 

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: https://msuclanac.sharepoint.com/sites/she-reporting/SitePages/Home.aspx

 

‘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: https://www.ucu.org.uk/hesc_19april2023 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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Branch Bulletin – Mar 2023

Pay dispute update

Re-ballot – last few days

Reminder of Branch AGM

 

Pay dispute update

Branch delegates attended a meeting yesterday with the General Secretary and senior negotiators Jon Hegerty and Justine Mercer, to discuss the current disputes. Jo Grady apologised for the confusion last week around whether the strikes should be paused and acknowledged that the online poll was poorly worded and should not have conflated multiple issues into a single question. She promised that future e-polls will be better. She also seemed very confident that UCU will break the 50% threshold in the current re-ballot, giving the union a renewed mandate to continue and escalate action in the coming months, if necessary. Jon Hegerty then explained the current position in the negotiations as follows:

On the USS Pension Scheme, the new offer is a good one, and members in the USS branches will be balloted on whether to accept it. This does not involve UCLan, as we are a TPS branch, but it is still very good news for the 60 or so colleagues at UCLan who have USS pensions. This would be a significant win for the union.

On pay, there is no agreement, and we remain in dispute. However, the employers have stated that they consider the discussion closed and will not negotiate on pay any further. The small increase for this year (5% for most UCU members) has already been imposed at UCLan (2% now and another 3% in the summer) and it would certainly take significant sustained industrial action to bring the employers back to the table on this issue.

On the other three “fights”, casualisation, inequality and workload, Jon stressed that there is no deal on offer yet. What we have been offered is terms of reference for future negotiations on these issues that could lead to a deal at some point. This is progress compared to what was originally proposed, but is obviously far short of what we were hoping for. However, the employers have said that these talks will only take place if UCU suspends industrial action. We therefore have to choose whether to join the other trade unions in the talks or to continue fighting on our own.

An informal poll was sent in an email from the General Secretary to members today, asking if they are in favour of being consulted on the pay and the non-pay issues, ahead of another Branch Delegate Meeting on 29th March and the next meeting of the Higher Education Committee on 30th March. Soon after, we will know the re-ballot result. Assuming it has been won, members will be asked to decide whether to join the negotiations, whether to be formally consulted over the terms of reference, and whether and when to start a marking and assessment boycott. We will also discuss all these issues at our AGM (see below)

 

Re-ballot on pay dispute – last few days

The re-ballot to extend the industrial action mandate closes on Friday 31st March

If you have recently returned your ballot paper, please use the link below to let UCU HQ know. You can use the same link to order a replacement ballot paper before Sunday 26th March.

https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/ucuRISING-ballotupdate

The last ‘safe date‘ for posting your ballot paper so it arrives in time is Tuesday 28th March

 

Branch AGM – reminder

Members are notified that UCLan UCU Annual General Meeting will take place on Wednesday 19st April, from 13.30 – 15.00 on Teams (check your email for the link).

 

AGM provisional agenda

Election of the Branch Committee

Branch Secretary’s report

Treasurer’s report

Equality Officer’s report

Membership Secretary’s report

Health and Safety report

Any Other Business

 

Nominations to the branch committee

Nominations for election to the Branch Committee should be submitted by e-mail to the Branch Secretary, And Rosta (and.rosta@gmail.com) by 18.00 on Tuesday 18th April. Each nomination must be supported by separate emails from two members (one nominating, the other seconding) and an email from the nominee accepting the nomination.

 

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Branch Bulletin – Jan 2023

NEC elections – use your vote!

UCU Rising – strike dates, advice on leave and negotiation update

Branch Meeting report

Defend the Right to Strike

Workplace Charter on Harmful Gambling

And Rosta – ‘Comrade of Distinction’

 

NEC elections – use your vote! Elections to the union’s National Executive Committee (NEC) are underway and voting packs should be arriving in the post any day. Please do not throw them in the bin! They contain voting papers and the election addresses of all candidates. These are important elections that help determine union strategy, so it is vital all members use their vote. Branch Chair Mick McKrell is standing as an NEC candidate for the North West Region. The UCLan Branch Committee are grateful to Mick, who held the seat in 2016-17, for agreeing to stand again and we support Mick in asking all members to give him your first preference vote (1) in the confidence that the branch will benefit if he is elected. Further information about the elections can be found here .

UCU Rising Strike dates

 w/c 30th January: Wednesday 1st February

w/c 6th February : Thursday 9th and Friday 10th

w/c 13th February (Reflection Week): Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th

w/c 20th February: Tuesday 21st, Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd

w/c 27th February: Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th, Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd March

w/c 6th March: no strike action

w/c 13th March: Thursday 16th and Friday 17th

w/c Monday 20th March: Monday 20th, Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd

We are aware that many members will have already taken the decision to take annual leave during reflection week (w/c 13th February) and so we will be picketing/demonstrating on dates that don’t fall within that week; members are not expected to alter their planned annual leave dates in the event that their planned annual leave dates coincide with strike dates during w/c 13th February

In order to ensure that we have the most visible and effective picketing and demonstrating, we will be concentrating this on a selection of the dates where strike action is happening. We are therefore calling on all UCU UCLan members to come to Preston to demonstrate and show solidarity with the action on the following dates: 1st , 9th, 21st and 28th February; 16th and 20th March.

Reflection  Week: Members have contacted us perplexed that strike action has been called to coincide with Reflection/Reading Week when many colleagues take leave. Unfortunately the branch has no control over the setting of strike dates. Here is UCU advice on taking leave during strikes:

 

I am on study or research leave during the strikes; what should I do?

If your leave is unpaid, you have no labour to withdraw and cannot join the strike. If your leave is paid, you should join the strikes.

I am booked to be on annual leave during the strikes; what should I do?

If your annual leave is essential, you should take it as planned and consider donating to the fighting fund. If your leave is not essential, you may wish to move it so you can participate in industrial action alongside colleagues

For other strike-related queries, please see the FAQs on the UCU website here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs

Update on pay negotiations: The latest action has resulted in an offer that, whilst still falling short of what is needed to settle the dispute, is an improvement on previous offers. This suggests that we are having an effect on the employers and we trust this will encourage members to stay strong and keep the pressure up at this crucial stage.

 

Branch Meeting Report

At the general meeting of the branch on 18th January, the following business was discussed:

UCU Rising pay dispute: Branch Officer Cath Sullivan reported the results of the branch survey on union strategy in the pay dispute: 65% were in favour of targeted strike action, 34% in favour of indefinite strike action and 56% in favour of a marking and assessment boycott. 83% said UCU should consult members before any move to indefinite strike action.

27% of members in the branch responded. As the survey was anonymous, members wishing to receive responses to their written comments are invited to email UCU. The results were in line with those from most other branches and were presented at the branch delegates meeting on 10th January which in turn and informed decisions by the national union’s Higher Education Committee (HEC). Branch Chair Mick McKrell told the meeting that delegates voted to choose between a plan of 10 days of escalating strike action proposed by the General Secretary, or indefinite strike action as decided by the HEC. The resulting 18 days of strikes planned for February and March are a ‘compromise’ between these positions. A marking boycott is also planned for the summer. The UCLan UCU delegates voted in accordance with the local membership’s responses to the survey in the meeting.

Andrew Baron said that the strike action on 1st February (the first of 18 days) will be the culmination of 15 months of balloting and action.  Whilst appreciating that this is difficult for members, it is also important to sustain momentum that has been built up, especially in the current context of several unions across many sectors, including teachers, also taking strike action.

Motion for the Regional Committee Mick McKrell proposed a motion to NW Regional Committee on 28th January opposing legislation to limit the right to strike by imposing ‘minimum safety levels’. The motion was carried overwhelmingly.

Academic calendar And Rosta told the meeting that there is a standing agreement that Management will consult with UCU on the calendar, but this has not happened over the last three years. Whilst this oversight may have been understandable during the COVID-19 pandemic, it should not be continuing. The change in practice has coincided with a change in senior management.  The 2024-25 calendar contains some radical changes, including examinations moving into teaching weeks and teaching contact time being condensed into fewer weeks. Whilst UCU has been assured that the number of teaching contact hours will not reduce, members are asked to get in contact if they find that this is happening.

Management/academic restructure  And Rosta said there has been no proper consultation with UCU. This raises two issues. Firstly, the security of employment for UCU members in management and secondly, whether a manager will have sufficient hours to do all aspects of their job effectively. There will be further updates in due course.

Redundancy prevention And Rosta updated members on the situation in CCI. Management propose offering targeted VR outside CCI where they feel it is likely to be accepted . The acceptance criteria are (a) that the work the applicant is undertaking can cease to be done or (b) that it could be done by someone else who is already employed at UCLan if it needs to continue. Management are not aiming for any VR targets. Within CCI there may be multiple VR applications from within  the same team so it may not be possible to grant them all.  If this happens UCU proposes that the team concerned puts together a consensus proposal. If this is not possible then management may need to introduce selection criteria. UCU will not participate in this selection process but will continue to support members affected.

Defend the Right to Strike’ rallies

Preston Trades Council has organised a rally to protest against proposed ‘minimum safety levels’ legislation limiting the right to strike, a move which members voted to oppose at the Branch General Meeting. It will take place on Preston Flag Market, 11.30 on Wednesday 1st February. For members living in the Manchester area, there is a rally organised by Manchester Trades Council starting at 12.30 in St Peter’s Square.

Workplace Charter on Harmful Gambling

UCU, Unite and Unison have signed up to the Workplace Charter on Harmful Gambling, which commits the University to providing support for staff and students who may be a risk from gambling harms.

And Rosta – Comrade of Distinction

Heartfelt congratulations to Branch Secretary And Rosta on receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the UCU General Secretary and UCU President for his outstanding contribution to UCU over the last two decades. And was nominated by the Branch Committee in 2020, endorsed by the NW Regional Committee that year and would have received the award at Congress had it not been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. It is richly deserved and a fitting testimony to And’s unstinting dedication to UCU members as a rep and officer of the branch.

 

UCU Branch Committee

 

 

 

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Branch Bulletin – Dec 2022

In this bulletin;

Branch Survey – please respond!

Redundancy Prevention

Extra Bank Holidays

Academic Calendar

Harmful Gambling – awareness training

Climate action CPD meeting

 

Please respond to the branch survey on industrial action!

Yesterday the Branch Committee sent out a link to an important survey on industrial action. If you haven’t yet done so, please complete the survey as soon as possible. It’ll take you only a minute.

Check your email for the link.

 

Redundancy Prevention

UCU have been attending weekly Redundancy Prevention Committee meetings with Management, with the goal of preventing there from being any compulsory redundancy. Of the VR/PVR requests that have now been made, Management are able to immediately grant some of them; of the remainder, Management will aim to make the organizational rearrangements necessary to be able to grant VR, and RPC will have overview of this. As things stand at the Christmas break, the CCI subject teams affected by the Management proposals fall into one of three categories:

  1. The Management proposal has either been achieved through VR or else been withdrawn; residual discussion will be confined to accommodating VR requests.
  2. Management will meet with subject teams (in the new year)  to discuss deployment and workloads.
  3. Particular issues remain to be resolved at RPC before further steps can be taken.

This week, Management will write to affected staff to let them know whether the proposal that affected their team falls into Category (1) or not. Additionally Management will send teams some marketing and recruitment information and proposals, in the expectation that subject leaders will coordinate the compilation of a response.

 

More extra bank holidays

For each extra bank holiday or university holiday beyond the usual, target annual workload hours should be reduced by 7.4 hours (pro rata). This academic year there are two extra bank holidays, so the total reduction should be 14.8 hours (pro rata).

 

Academic calendar

Management have released an academic calendar for 2023–24 without having consulted UCU on it. For the second year running, they do acknowledge both that they had committed to consult UCU and that they failed to honour that commitment. For most academic staff, the most problematic aspect of the new calendar is that exams have been moved into teaching weeks. The intention is that there should remain 24 teaching weeks, and that there should be no reduction in contact hours, and hence no risk of creating staff redundancy; but the contact hours and exams that formerly spread over 26 weeks must now be squeezed into 24. So this becomes an issue of timetabling for affected modules.

 

Harmful Gambling – awareness training sessions

The joint unions have been working to expand the University’s Drug and Alcohol Policy to support colleagues who are struggling to cope with harmful behaviour arising from problem gambling; their own or that of a colleague, friend or family member. We are hopeful that UCLan will sign up to the Workplace Charter on Harmful Gambling as part of its stated commitment to Wellbeing. As part of this work, the University is hosting 3 one-hour online sessions on Harmful Gambling Awareness via Microsoft Teams. Please click on the links within the below dates/times to reserve your space on the session through iTrent Self Service:

 

 

Climate action CPD meeting

Over the last couple of years, UCU have run a number of Climate-related CPD events with thousands of UCU members, reps and activists attending.  The union wants to maintain this momentum and harness members’ experience of climate action in the workplace. This short online conference will be an opportunity to understand what action is taking place around the country and hear about future plans to develop and shape  environment work.  We hope you will be able to join the first Climate CPD – Take action! online meeting. The full itinerary will follow in early January. Please see below for registration details:

Date: 26th January 2023

Venue: Online

Time: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30p.m.

Please check your email for the link to register.

Just in case you need to re-acquaint yourself with UCU’s approach to climate action in the workplace via our Green New Deal framework, please see here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/green-new-deal

 

 

We wish all members a restful Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

UCU Branch Committee

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Branch Bulletin – Nov 2022

UCU Rising – strike action and ASOS

 

Members will have received notification of the outcome of the UCU national ballots on pay and USS pensions. UCLan UCU members were balloted on pay only. The result of the national pay ballot was as follows:

Are you prepared to take strike action? Yes: 81.14%, No: 18.86%

Are you prepared to take action short of strike action? Yes:88.75%, No: 11.25%

Turnout: 57.71%

 

Following a meeting of the union’s Higher Education Committee on Thursday 3rd November, the decision was made to take strike action on 24th, 25th and 30th November, followed by action short of strike action commencing Wednesday 23rd November (see below); and a marking and assessment boycott commencing in the new year (the timing of this has not yet been specified). It is now up to the employers to signal their intent to engage with the union and enter into meaningful negotiations to prevent escalation of the dispute and the disruption that would inevitably follow. The Branch Committee calls on – and expects – all members to heed the call to take strike action on the days specified.

 

Important: You do not need to notify Management of your intention to take strike action and you should not reply to any communication asking you to do so.

 

Pickets: We shall be picketing University buildings on 24th and 25th November. Please gather near the entrance of the Engineering Innovation Building (adjacent to Adelphi Square) at 09.00 on those days. A UCU national demonstration has been called for 30th November, so we will not be picketing that day. We are awaiting news as to whether there will be transport organised from the North West. Plans are also being drawn up for a Regional Rally in Manchester on Friday 25th; look out for an email from the NW Regional Office.

 

Action Short of Strike (ASOS) Guidance

 

The following are the UCU instructions and advice on ASOS, commencing 23rd November, 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 beencancelled 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.

 

For further information, please see the ‘Taking Strike Action’ FAQs here .

 

Redundancy Prevention

As members were informed at the Branch General Meeting in October, Management has proposed a plan to address what it claims is over capacity in areas of declining student recruitment in the Faculty of Culture and the Creative Industries (FCCI). UCU has met with all subject and course teams affected by Management’s proposed reduction in staffing in FCCI and has also been representing and advising individual members that are affected by the proposals. Branch officers are meeting with Management every week to try and find a way forward that addresses the problems of falling recruitment in some areas whilst ensuring both that no UCU member’s livelihood is jeopardized and that the staff concerned are properly consulted and have the opportunity to scrutinize and challenge Management’s proposal and suggest their own solutions. The primary objective of the branch committee is to ensure we do not end up repeating the scenario we had in FCCI in 2019 where members were threatened with compulsory redundancy. The next step is that Management will reconsider and revise their proposals in the light of the discussions with UCU and the responses from the affected subject teams and their members, including any requests for VR or redeployment.

 

 

Academic Organization Restructure

Members will have seen that the Management have proposed yet another restructure, the second in two years. The unions have not yet been consulted or fully informed about the plan. In response to union concerns about possible implications for members’ jobs, Management have assured us that there will be no job cuts below Management grade. However, history tells us that following a major restructure, some schools may undergo ‘rationalisation’ which may entail job losses, and UCU is committed to protecting the livelihood of every member, including those on management contracts and in management roles; we therefore remain vigilant, and have demanded that the unions be consulted.

 

Course Leader Role

For many years UCU have been attempting to work with Management to get the proper definition of the Course Leader role properly documented and to bring university practice in line with the proper definition; the discussions with Management are ongoing but are at Management’s usual glacial pace. Even though the role definition remains inadequately documented, UCU have always held a very clear position about what the definition is. Management have recently sent Course Leaders what appears to be an instruction to organize and conduct elections among students on the course for the role of student rep. This is not a legitimate instruction. Firstly, it is not part of the CL role. Secondly, there is a standing university agreement that academic staff will not be required to undertake duties that are not inherently academic and so do not by their nature inherently have to be done by academic staff; organizing student elections is not an inherently academic duty.

 

Target annual hours

For non-SPH academic staff, your target annual hours should be reduced as follows:

* In recognition of the extra bank holiday for the royal funeral, 7.4 hours (pro rata) for staff on academic contracts and 7.25 hours for academic staff on professional services contracts;

* 2 hours (not pro rata) as a special Christmas allowance (to be used, if possible, for attending a team Christmas celebration);

* 1/365 of your initial annual target (1581 pro rata) per day of industrial action; for full time staff, this is a reduction of 4.33 hours.

 

Teaching Preparation

UCU are aware of a number of unilateral attempts by various school managements to allocate amounts of preparation time that are in breach of the agreement with UCU that for every contact hour there will be at least one hour of preparation for that teaching event, with marking hours separately allocated per student, provided that across all non-studio-based modules on a given workload, contact hours will be no more than two thirds as many as the hours allocated for the preparation and marking associated with those contact hours. (Where more than one hour of preparation per contact hour is required, more should be allocated on the workload plan.) If you’re aware of any such breaches, please bring them to UCU’s attention. Additionally, UCU advise you to refuse to agree any workload plan, and to seek the support of a UCU caseworker, if your line manager is asking you to take on a teaching load in which contact hours (i) are more than two thirds as many as the hours allocated to the preparation and marking associated with them or more than the hours allocated to the preparation for them and (ii) are not higher than 60 hours per 20 credits.

 

UCU Branch Committee

 

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