So we finally have the outcome of the consultative ballot. Personally, it’s felt like a very long and difficult 10 days. There has been so much debate and discussion over social media, some of it unpleasant, that it’s been difficult to remain positive, and the memories of the remarkable achievements gained during our extraordinary strike action have dimmed somewhat.
Well, now is the time to restore those memories and build on our successes … that first rally and march to Wills … the student occupation … Hugh Brady listening to Josie McLellan speak on the steps of Senate House ….the International Women’s Day event to celebrate the submission of the gender pay claim… HUGE membership increases … and we now have a group of fantastically active reps. We have a lot to be proud of. Our branch has gone from strength to strength, and will continue to do so with your help.
We now need to put our trust in our national negotiating team and let them do their work with the Joint Expert Panel. I have known Sally Hunt and Paul Bridge for many years and am confident that they, alongside our elected member negotiators, will continue to work towards obtaining the assurances desired by many of those who voted against the proposals. If the outcome of the panel is not to our liking then we know (and they now know) that UCU members will not be walked over – we will come out fighting again in defence of a decent pension. We should take ownership and be proud of what we have achieved through our collective strength nationally; we have utterly transformed the situation from that first cold morning on 22nd February, and we must remain vigilant to see these gains are not lost.
Locally, the result of the ballot means the suspension of strike action and action short of a strike. But remember, we are not the union or the staff members that we were back at the end of February: we are transformed. Now, we are powerful, we are strong, we are unified; we ARE the University and we will make change happen.
Speaking frankly, I think the university we work for now doesn’t deserve all that we have given it. I urge everyone to stick to working reasonable hours, to put a lunch hour in your calendar and a time when you’re going home, use your annual leave. If we all do it (and why don’t you agree within your School or Division that you will all do it) then the University will soon see that their workload models don’t work, that it’s impossible to meet the demands of our roles. We know that workload models have a huge impact on our casualised staff as their pay multipliers are based on miserly preparation and assessment rates drawn from the models. Saying no will help them too.
This week, the issue of Easter 2019 and term dates has demonstrated once again how staff continue to be seen as a resource to be deployed as and when required, with decisions that have a huge impact on hundreds of staff members – and their families – being taken by a single committee. This has to stop and we must be deeply involved in changing the way decisions that affect us are made. No more human capital.
I could make a very long list of the things we need to change but won’t – for now. Here are just some of the things your Branch Officers are working on that will need your support in the coming months:
- We submitted our gender pay claim on 8 March to demand that the UMT commit to closing the gender pay gap within three years. We have now assembled our local negotiating team, and we will need your help to push for our demands to become a reality.
- We are planning our first workload survey in a School, to provide us with the evidence to insist that over-work, and its resulting stress, are health and safety issues that cannot be ignored.
- We are still involved in the ongoing promotion and progression discussions.
- We continue to support the many Professional Services restructures.
- We are planning to hold a Bristol UCU conference before the end of term where we can define our priorities and demands and agree how and who will take these forward – this must include how we are governed.
- We also plan to hold a lunch time event on May Day to mark International Workers’ Day.
- As well as all of this, we continue to undertake individual and group casework to support our members.
Finally, a reminder that we have our AGM on Wednesday 9 May. This is where we elect our officers and Executive – we are always keen to have new people on board to please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more. Sally Hunt will also be speaking.
As we enter a new phase – let’s be bold. Unity is our strength.
With best wishes