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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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Branch Bulletin – Sept 2022

‘UCU Rising’ campaign


As members will be aware, following a motion carried at the union’s Higher Education Sector Conference in June, a ballot on industrial action on the employers’ 3% pay offer is currently underway and closes on Friday 21st October, with recommendation of voting Yes to both strike action and action short of a strike. Unlike in previous ballots, this is an aggregated ballot, which means that there needs to be a turnout of 50% across all branches being balloted, rather than in each individual branch. There have been a number of online meetings and events organised by the national union and regular email updates, including how to register that you have voted or to request a ballot paper if you have not received one. The Branch Committee urges all members to cast their vote in this important ballot.


A message from Elaine Hill, UCU Green Rep

Are you concerned about climate change? Curious about whether food on campus is ethically sourced? Wondering whether energy use in university buildings could be more sustainable and efficient? Or even wondering about how to incorporate teaching and projects in such areas into your programmes? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then please come along to a UCU green meeting and get involved.

Green meetings will take place on the following dates 2 – 3.30 pm and will be hybrid meetings, so you can attend in person or via Teams (physical rooms to be announced in due course). Whatever, your green interests, please come along and share them and get involved:

12th October, 16th November and 14th December 2022; and 1st February, 15th March and 17th May 2023

Previous green meetings have identified the following broad areas for investigation and action

  1. Ethical investments and banking: e.g. is UCLan investing in fossil fuels?
  2. Food and land use: e.g. animal welfare and food on campus, bottled water and provision of water fountains, single use items generally, compostable (but not composted) containers, food waste management
  3. Energy and carbon management: e.g. promoting greener travel, bike storage, charging points for electric vehicles, university travel policies.
  4. Sustainability and curriculum: how to get climate and sustainability into curricula.

These are broad areas and can be focussed according to members’ specific interests and, so please come along and let us know if there is anything in particular that you want to do, or have knowledge of expertise in. We also want to build a Green New Deal claim to UCLan to help bring about changes in these areas – more information here:

UCU also offers training in running climate learning events and decarbonising and decolonising the curriculum for members, so please take a look. There is more information on UCU training and green issues generally here:

UCU has a long history of involvement with green issues and in its founding Congress in 2007 committed to play its part in ‘greening the campus’ and ‘greening the curriculum’ and to assist campaigns for sustainable national policies and local practices. They were also the first union to introduce green representatives to address these issues in further and higher education. Let’s build on this. If you are interested on any of the above issues, please contact Elaine Hill on


Impact of student appeals on workload


It has been brought to UCU’s attention that students’ being granted further attempts at modules run in one academic year, where the resubmission will fall within the next academic year, is causing issues with workload for some staff. This may happen if a student has, for example, had a first submission which has gone to a board in January, been referred, and then had a second submission which has gone to a board in June and failed. It can take several weeks for appeals to be processed, and if a subsequent third attempt is given, this may well lead to the student having to submit again in the early part of the next academic year. Consequently, the time needed for staff to supervise and mark the work will also fall in the next academic year, but may not be captured on workload for that year. If anyone is experiencing this problem, please get in touch via


‘Enough Is Enough’ rally, October 1st

On Saturday 1st October, a number of events are taking place in the NW to protest against the Cost of Living Crisis. There will be a rally in Preston on the Flag Market from 12 noon to 2pm.

The UCLan UCU branch banner will be there, so please come along to the Cenotaph on the Flag Market at 12 noon and show your support.


Reminder of Branch General Meeting

The first Branch General Meeting is on Wednesday 5th October, 13.30 – 15.00 via Teams.

Items for discussion at the meeting include the national pay dispute. Members are reminded that they are entitled to time off to attend branch meetings, so please do your best to attend.


UCU Branch Committee


Twitter: @UCLanUCU


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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 ( 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 – Jan 2022

Branch General Meeting – reminder
‘Four Fights’ survey – please respond as soon as you can
Covid update
Message from Green Rep – please get involved

Branch General Meeting, Wednesday 19th January
A reminder that the first general meeting of the branch of 2022 is on Wednesday, 19th January 13.30 – 15.00 via Teams. Check your email for the meeting link.

‘Four Fights’ Survey – please respond as soon as possible.
As you may have seen in emails from UCU Head Office, the branch has been asked to canvass members’ opinions on how best to prosecute the “4 Fights” dispute in 2022. Unfortunately, the Delegate Meeting is on Tuesday 18th January, the day before our Branch General Meeting – and the questions we have been asked to put to members were only communicated to us TODAY, so there is no time to call an EGM. We are therefore asking members to answer the four questions in the survey below by 12 noon on Monday 17th January. Our delegates will then be able to report back to the BGM on Wednesday.
Here’s the link to the survey:

Covid update
UCU, Unison and Unite are continuing to meet with Management each week to discuss the ongoing Covid situation. As previously reported, UCU has urged Management go beyond the current Government ‘Plan B’ and Department of Education guidelines by, for example, shifting any teaching that can be done remotely to on-line delivery in order to reduce the number of people on campus. We also protested the lack of provision for the risk assessment of clinically vulnerable colleagues (again, the D of E guidelines state that these are not necessary). Management have refused to do this and are intent on adhering to letter of the Government guidance, in breach of an understanding reached between Management and unions last year (at the peak of the first wave) that that the University would not slavishly follow Government guidelines but would strive to do ‘the right thing’. It is now evident that for the University as well as for the Government – ‘business continuity’ is the driver of their approach to Covid.

Face coverings
After initial reluctance Management has agreed that students and staff should wear face coverings in all indoor settings in the University, including classrooms. It is ‘not expected’ that academics wear face coverings whilst teaching, but we urge colleagues to so unless there is a sound pedagogic reason why they shouldn’t – and even then only where the teaching space is well ventilated and/or physical distancing is possible between themselves and students. The clear visors offered by the University are not an effective form of mitigation. UCU proposed using the PC screensaver (‘Where opportunity creates success’) to communicate a message reminding everyone to wear a face covering when on campus. Management have said this is ‘not possible’ (no explanation given), which demonstrates all too clearly how defending the University’s ‘brand identity’ is a higher priority than communicating an important public health message.

We are continuing to highlight problems relating to ventilation where we become aware of them. At the last meeting we also pressed Management on the provision and use of CO₂ monitors. We have also asked that time for the replenishment of air in teaching spaces be built into timetabling so that one session does not immediately follow another without the air supply having been refreshed. Longer term, it is clear that the University’ HVAC systems will require extensive overhaul to deal with future outbreaks. In the meantime, colleagues should continue to report ventilation problems to Estates Services via and contact us if there is undue delay or an unsatisfactory response.

Face coverings, ventilation, physical distancing etc. are means of managing the spread of infections whilst on campus. But clearly the best way to reduce infections on campus to reduce (preferably to zero) the number of people coming to the University with Covid in the first place, which is why testing is so crucial. We urge all colleagues to follow advice on this and to take a Lateral Flow Test before coming to work. The fewer people who bring Covid on to campus, the more effective the other measures are likely to be.

We will update members further at next week’s branch meeting. In the meantime, if you have any concerns relating to Covid, our advice remains to raise them with your Head of School in the first instance. If that doesn’t resolve it, email indicating ‘Covid’ in the subject line.

Message from the Branch Green Rep.
There will be a meeting on Wednesday 16th February for any UCU members interested in working on green issues at UCLan. The meeting will be on Teams between 2 – 4 pm: check email for the meeting link.

Green issues obviously cover a large field. What I would like to do is have a discussion about what people are interested in and to choose 2 or 3 areas to focus on for the coming year. I would like to try and link these to objectives which have come out of the COP-26 meeting to give them more strength, as well as considering approaches to greening the curriculum at UCLan. The meeting will include some breakout room discussions, both to help draw up ideas and also to distil these further and select the ones we want to focus on. If anyone has any particular issues which interest them then please feel free to contact me, Elaine Hill, in advance about them 

UCU Branch Committee

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News: Threat lifted and strikes postponed

Statement from UCLan UCU Branch Committee



Following talks between UCU and Management today, the following statement has been agreed:

Over the past few weeks, the University and UCU have worked jointly to identify solutions for the remaining numbers of academic colleagues who are at risk of compulsory redundancy as a result of the restructuring exercises.

 This joint work has continued to deliver positive outcomes for colleagues, to the extent that the number of roles at risk has been reduced to four, with further discussions to be held over the coming days. The University is confident that the number will reduce still further as a result.

 Given the progress to date, the University and UCU have agreed that the priority is to give ourselves the time to pursue the work on finding individual solutions for those people concerned. As a result, the University has agreed to suspend its formal redundancy selection process and UCU has agreed to suspend the planned industrial action and explore redeployment options for the outstanding roles. The University and UCU are committed to remaining in constructive dialogue.


Does this resolve the dispute?

No. The dispute is not resolved because members remain at risk.


So what has changed?

Two weeks ago Management sought to meet UCU to discuss the criteria to be used to select individuals for compulsory redundancy. UCU declined to discuss selection criteria because we considered that there were viable alternatives to compulsory redundancy available that we wished to explore. The fact that Management were intent on pushing forward with selection for redundancy is why the Branch Committee felt it had no alternative but to issue the threat of strike action in order to defend our members’ jobs.

Management have now agreed to suspend selection for redundancy to allow further discussions to take place with UCU to resolve the remaining at risk posts. The members at risk have been informed of this development.


What about the industrial action?

In return for Management’s decision to suspend selection for redundancy, the UCU Branch Committee has agreed to suspend the industrial action (strike action and action short of a strike) planned for March and April.

However, the mandate for industrial action provided by members in the ballot remains live and UCU reserves the right to take industrial action if the current talks fail to resolve the dispute or if Management attempt to proceed to selection for compulsory redundancy.


What happens next?

 UCU and Management have committed to intensify efforts aimed at resolving the dispute by removing the prospect of compulsory redundancy. There is no guarantee of success, which is why the ballot mandate remains live. We will keep members informed about the progress of these discussions.


Thank you for your support so far.

 The Branch Committee wishes to thank members for the magnificent support you have shown so far. We know from the ballot results and from the many emails we have received ever since the redundancies were announced that you have demonstrated a willingness to stand up for your colleagues. There is no doubt that this has helped provide your branch negotiators with this opportunity to secure the livelihoods of those at risk. Your support was – and remains – crucial as we strive for a successful outcome.


UCU Branch Committee


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Strike 2021 – VC’s Statement

UCU response to the VC’s statement on forthcoming strike action.

Support the Strikes banner

The statement posted by Graham Baldwin on the intranet on Friday is reproduced below, with UCU’s responses in bold.


VC: ‘We have previously updated you on our restructure programme and the essential changes required to ensure our future financial stability. Over the last few years, our people costs had been rising and unfortunately those cost increases exceeded the growth in our income. This placed the University at a level of annual deficit which, if left unchecked, would have had very serious implications for our future’.


UCU:  The ‘unsustainable’ rise in staffing costs is a consequence of the failure of Management oversight and control of costs over many years, something which Management themselves have admitted.  Management has also admitted that is does not have a sound method for actually measuring the overall costs for particular courses or subject areas.  It is wrong that staff should have to pay for that incompetence with their jobs. The University is in sound financial health – with cash reserves of £100 million – and is planning to spend £50 million on new buildings this year alone. This cannot justify enforced loss of livelihoods.


VC: ‘Our priority has therefore been to restore our people costs to a sustainable level. The ambition was and remains to achieve these significant savings through voluntary means if possible. We have made considerable progress towards this as 253 colleagues have opted to move on from UCLan through voluntary redundancy arrangements and a further 17 have taken up more flexible working arrangements through the new partial voluntary redundancy scheme. These schemes, together with the redeployment process, have been huge contributors towards our future sustainability and again I would like to thank all those who have supported colleagues throughout this process which is now coming to an end. We have worked closely with the trade unions and with those colleagues affected, to ensure they have the support that they need’.


UCU: Management has not been proactive in redeploying the skills experience and expertise of ‘at risk’ staff to address areas where there is a shortage of labour in the institution. Whilst many ‘at risk’ colleagues have demonstrated flexibility in this respect, including agreeing changes to their roles, this has not been matched by Management who are in the best position to facilitate proper redeployment that addresses the needs of the University whist safeguarding jobs.    


VC: ‘Our improving financial position has made it possible to maintain the student experience throughout the pandemic. For students we have purchased thousands of new laptops and dongles, refunded accommodation fees and supported students through the Hardship Fund. Unlike many other universities, none of our colleagues have been furloughed and we have been able to retain everyone on full pay, regardless of whether or not they are able do their job remotely. We have also been able to increase our staffing numbers in areas of student growth, which are so important to our longer-term success, and of course wherever possible we have redeployed colleagues into these new roles to continue their UCLan careers’.


UCU: Throughout the pandemic UCU has worked to keep staff and students at the University safe. UCU members have worked tirelessly for the past year, making the shift to online delivery or delivering practical skills face-to-face as safely as possible. Academic staff have worked far beyond their agreed workloads to ensure that students progress and graduate. It is unacceptable that any of them should, as a ‘reward’ for their efforts, be threatened with compulsory redundancy.     


VC: ‘The progress we have made in voluntary redundancy and redeployment has taken us a very long way towards achieving our savings targets, and these efforts continue. There are six roles in the Faculty of Culture and Creative Industries that remain at risk and the reason these roles are at risk is because particular subject areas have seen a sustained decline in student numbers over recent years, so we do not have sufficient students to maintain the current staffing levels. The number of applications received to date in those areas show that the issue will only be compounded if we do not complete the process of reducing our staffing costs’.


UCU: The reason the VC gives is, by Management’s own admission, not applicable to all staff at risk. Where it is ostensibly applicable, the fact is that student numbers do go up and down, but these course teams have been selected in a narrow-minded fashion that ignores their contributions to other courses and all the work they do for their Schools and the wider University. A responsible, competent Management identifies these fluctuations and addresses them through improved marketing, course mergers or by innovating to design new programmes. An irresponsible Management allows a trend to go unchecked and then wrings its hands and forces people out of work.


VC: ‘We are very disappointed that UCU has chosen to schedule six days of strike action beginning in less than two weeks, while we are still in the midst of our work to mitigate the impact on the colleagues affected. We will, however, continue to explore every opportunity to achieve the required cost savings through voluntary means. Individual discussions with affected colleagues are progressing and we are very confident that the number of at risk colleagues will reduce even further over the coming days’.


Despite the claim to be exploring alternatives to voluntary redundancy, Management want to press ahead with selection for compulsory redundancy as we speak. It is UCU that continues to press Management to lift the threat of compulsory redundancy and negotiate solutions that work both for the University and for those members still at risk. UCU has always – and will always be – ready to discuss with Management the challenges facing the University – it is in our members’ interests that we do so. But it is now in Management’s hands to step back from the brink and avoid a dispute which will have consequences for industrial relations for a long time to come.     


For a view of the dispute from the perspective of a dedicated UCU rep who has been supporting colleagues at risk, see the following personal reflection from Tara Styles-Lightowlers:


‘On Friday the VC provided an update on the UCU strike ballot and action. I would just like to fill in some of the glaring gaps. Most importantly, the omission of the very real people in the ‘people costs’ that the VC makes reference to.

Since we first learned of the members at risk of redundancy in CCI, I have lost many nights sleep or found myself sobbing into my pillow in the early hours of the morning. My own post is not at risk, but I have seen first-hand the very real distress that the VC’s message glosses over with its focus on ‘people costs’ and ‘savings targets’. I have sat at the other end of a computer screen, watching members struggle and cry, terrified and confused, not knowing what to do: worrying about mortgages, children, a possible end to their careers… all on top of the added stresses caused by the pandemic and lockdown. Even in those cases where the savings have been made via redeployment, this has involved difficult decisions being made by members, at a time when they are already working so hard to counter the problems that have been posed by Covid. These seemingly voluntary decisions have been made by members terrified of losing their jobs. I cannot stand by and watch this dehumanisation of people, seeing them reduced to mere commodities in this cost-saving exercise despite the years of hard work and dedication they have given to UCLan. The refusal to remove the threat of compulsory redundancy is not, due to financial necessity, it is a political decision. This is why I wipe away the tears and continue to stand in solidarity with the at risk members and continue to fight any threat to the livelihoods of our members.’


Stand with Tara. Support your colleagues at risk. Support the strike action. 


UCU Branch Committee


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First Post!

After several years of maintaining our pages on the staff intranet at UCLan, we are taking the plunge onto the public website at This is largely because of an influx of postgraduate student members joining UCU for FREE (hit the “Join” button on the right to find out more) who, we realised, would not have access to the staff pages. So here we go!

Over the next few weeks we will be moving all our archives over to this new site. After that, we will stop maintaining the old intranet pages. For the moment, however, members who can access the staff network will find our old pages HERE.

Watch this space…


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