UCU Left: Report from Higher Education Committee 27 June 2014
1) National negotiators’ election
Liz Lawrence, Ron Mendel, Rene Prendergast and Gordon Watson were elected (to join Jimmy Donaghy, Dominique Lauterberg and Joanna de Groot) as national negotiators.
2) New JNCHES Equality Working Groups arising from the non-pay elements of the
2014-15 pay agreement
Gender Pay: A joint working group will identify and actively promote good practice. Qualitative examples of gender pay gaps will be collected and measures taken to address them.
Hourly-paid and casual staff: This group will establish a shared understanding of how HE employers can achieve appropriate flexibility in the workforce while delivering fair and equitable employment practice. Members warned against allowing employers to use this to simply terminate staff on ftcs and other casualised contracts. Others warned against accepting ‘occasional’ use of ftcs because of the need for eg. ‘visiting lecturers’. This can be used as a cover for making them commonplace ie. at the OU where Associate Lecturers were originally thought of as visiting lecturers.
It was stressed that the union needs to work to work to turn any useful principles and policy statements into local agreements and that we need outcomes now, not just further research.
London weighting is an important issue for London members but there is no bargaining position on this.
Members raised questions on the punitive pay deductions during the pay campaign. The HE Official reported it will be a long process and a test case will need to be selected.
3) UCU Congress/Sector Conference progress
Motions from Congress were circulated with a view to prioritisation.
Announcements regarding employer attacks on USS are expected in July. UCU challenges the methodological approach to the valuation of the scheme. Four regional briefings will take place to update branches on discussions with USS and the employers. Branches need to get two delegates to these and start discussing potential action.
- Friday 18 July 2014 Manchester Mechanics Institute
- Tuesday 22 July 2014 Glasgow STUC
- Wednesday 23 July 2014London UCU HQ
- Friday 25 July 2014 Birmingham Regional Office
5) Local disputes over jobs
Kings College London: NEC passed a motion of support and solidarity with Kings where 81% voted for strike action in a dispute over jobs. Management want 10% job cuts while King’s is currently planning a £660m infrastructure investment programme. KCL will need to take some action in the Summer to activate their ballot result for industrial action.
Please encourage everyone to sign the students’ union petition: http://kclhealthsos.wix.com/stopkclredundancies and send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wording of HEC emergency motion: support KCL UCU
- The threat of over 120 academic job losses at Kings College London to fund a £660m capital
investment programme, with staff identified for redundancy by punitive metrics (teaching hours, research income) and interviews.
- The successful IA ballot result by KCL UCU.
- The timing of the dispute over the summer.
- That this local dispute is of national significance. Other HEI employers are looking at KCL and UCU’s response.
- To prioritise support for KCL UCU in line with the policy of local disputes of national significance.
- To call on all branches to mobilise demonstrative protests to coincide with the first date of KCL UCU strike
- To approach the BMA and professional bodies for joint support for the campaign.
Dundee University: UCU members at Dundee University have begun a work to contract in protest at threats to 120 academic jobs. Please send messages of support to the branch at:email@example.com and encourage all members to sign the petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-job-cuts-at-university-of-dundee .
Glyndwr University: A ballot was approved over redundancy proposals and changes to contracts but the ballot was not implemented due to progress in negotiations. However, management have started to backslide with some staff left at ‘risk’.
6) Cross sector objectives/HEC Sector Tasks
The following cross sector objectives/HEC sector tasks were agreed with discussion on the detail comprising these.
1) To enable meaningful collective bargaining on pay, equality and pensions for the benefit of members.
2) To counter casualisation and promote appropriate workforce composition
3) To ensure UCU’s primacy as the collective bargaining agent for lecturers, researchers, academic and related, professional staff in tertiary education
4) To promote work-life balance and safe, sustainable workplaces for UCU members (covers bullying and workload etc)
5) To maintain quality, effectiveness and professional standards.