Closing The Gap – Bristol UCU Gender Pay Claim Update

Dear Colleagues

UoB and UCU had agreed in the Joint Statement of Intent that the negotiations on the UCU Gender Pay Claim would be ‘time-limited’, with the aim of concluding in December 2018. We agreed that negotiations would be conducted with ‘a view to agreeing actions, including setting appropriate targets, to significantly reduce the gender pay gap among academic staff within three years … their agreed outcomes will form part of the University-wide Action Plan of the Gender Pay Gap Working Group.’ The University also agreed to ‘commit resources, support and guidance to achieve this objective…[and to] ensure that the University’s strategic objectives include appropriate key performance indicators.’

As things stand, there is no jointly agreed action plan despite the University having committed to this in the Joint Statement of Intent.

We are committed to continuing our efforts over the summer to see whether an agreement can be reached on the key claim points, and hope that the University will do likewise. We very much hope, therefore, that our next communication is one on which we are able to update you on meaningful progress, but must be clear that if progress can’t be made over the summer, we will be calling an Emergency General Meeting at the start of the next academic year to explain fully where we have landed, and, if we still do not have a draft agreement, to ask for your endorsement of a “failure to agree”.

We do not doubt that the representatives of UoB are committed to greater gender equality in the institution. However, Bristol UCU Executive remains concerned that the University is reluctant to address the structural issues that relate to the Gender Pay Gap (the Joint Statement of Intent recognises that there are ‘structural’ issues, in addition to cultural issues, that affect women academic staff in particular). For example, women are overrepresented on Pathways 2 & 3 and underrepresented on Pathway 1. We wish to see this tackled through progression and transfer opportunities for all pathways. It is our belief that a failure to tackle structural issues will seriously undermine the University’s ability to ‘significantly reduce the gender pay gap among academic staff within three years’ as set out in the Joint UCU/UoB Statement of Intent.

A brief summary of where we consider the branch is re. the Gender Pay Claim negotiations is set out here:

1. The areas of progress are as follows :

  • The university has agreed to a review of the Returning Carers’ scheme. This will take place within the next 12 months, and UCU will have an opportunity to make suggestions in respect of that review
  • The new promotions framework promises to recognise administrative work and citizenship in a more systematic and effective way
  • Progression will now be available to many more staff on PW3 though not generally for PW2

2. In other areas, we have found there may be potential for agreement on the need to gather and analyse data, but progress has been slower and we have had to repeatedly make the argument for why such data is important:

  • It has not yet been possible to begin a joint review of flexible and part-time working due to apparent difficulties in accessing and sharing the relevant data. ERP is proving an obstacle to progress. However, we do not believe that this alone is a barrier to doing this essential work, and we are disappointed that the University have not currently been able to find a workaround.

3. On other issues, which we understand are important to women UCU members at Bristol, it has been impossible to make meaningful progress. We are seeking a renewed commitment from the University to negotiating with us in earnest on these issues, which, despite a direct request to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, we have yet to secure:

  • Despite the University announcing that all jobs would be open to job-share in October 2018, which has been repeated in UCU meetings with UoB representatives, this has not yet been implemented
  • UCU’s proposals for targeted development programmes with the specific goal of potentially getting women academics promoted/transferred onto PW1 have been rejected in favour of more generic mentoring schemes of the kind UoB have run in the past
  • The proposed new guidelines for pathway transfer make it even more difficult to transfer from PW2 to PW1. We understand that the University is seeking to run a pilot which could address this, but have no details as yet, and Bristol UCU Executive have serious doubts about whether this represents real transformative change

Thank you, as ever, for all your comments, contributions and queries in relation to progress on the negotiations on the Gender Pay Claim.

Tracey Hooper
Branch President
On behalf of the Bristol UCU Executive

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