Category Archives: Gender Pay Claim

Gender Pay Gap: Collective Agreement

Dear Bristol UCU Members,

Our General Meeting on Wednesday presents an opportunity to accept and endorse the very first Collective Agreement on Gender Pay in the UK HE Sector. This agreement is the culmination of 18 months of negotiation between Bristol UCU and the University, and comes with a unanimous recommendation to members to accept it from the Branch Executive Committee.

Our original Gender Pay claim was submitted on International Women’s Day 2018, during our last action, and negotiations began in earnest in late summer 2018. This follows long-standing national UCU policy, which encourages branches to submit local claims on equality issues and initiate bargaining at a local level. The claim is attached here [link] for reference. The first milestone was the agreement of a joint statement. A regular timetable of negotiations followed, with progress continually tested against the original claim and referred to our branch executive, and now we are ready to put the results to the membership.

Negotiators would like to highlight the following areas of the agreement as representing significant progress:

  • The pilot of a transfer to core  funding  process to support the movement of staff to a core funded contract (including the potential for a change in pathway)
  • The pilot of a bridging funding scheme as a means of retaining Pathway 2 staff between grants
  • The sharing of detailed data on flexible and part-time working arrangements, and a commitment to further work to properly understand and address the issues that this data might reveal
  • The move to make all advertised posts open to a discussion of flexible working or job share, and review recruitment training for managers

The fact that all this work has been incorporated into a new Academic Career Programme Board at which UCU has two representatives who can remain close to the implementation.

That the agreement will be monitored via our Joint Negotiating Committee

Many of these strands of work relate to staff on insecure contracts, acknowledging the way in which the Gender Pay Gap manifests itself here at Bristol, with women overrepresented on pathways 2 and 3. The agreement also recognises where these negotiations have intersected more broadly with UCU and University work on anti-casualisation, and documents the move to include PW3 progressability into regular workforce planning via the Integrated Planning Process, and a holistic review of the use of fixed term contracts.

In recognition of the above, Bristol UCU Branch Executive is recommending acceptance of the Collective Agreement to members, and there will a member vote at Wednesday’s meeting on a motion to this effect. Negotiators will be on hand to provide further context and information.

This is an important moment for our branch. The support of our membership outside the door of the negotiating room has been an enormous part of what has made this possible. Please come and use your vote.

Suzy Cheek

Vice President, University of Bristol UCU & Gender Pay Gap Claim Negotiator

Plans and Guidance for Industrial Action – Bristol UCU


Our plans are to picket actively from 7.30 am to 10.00 am on Monday Nov 25th, Tuesday Nov 26th, and Wednesday Nov 27th. On Monday 25th, there will be a rally outside the Victoria Rooms at 10am followed by a march to College Green.

On Friday the 29th we will meet our students at 10.30am at Senate House to walk down to join the Climate Strike march.

On the second week our thoughts are to have “stay away” days on the Monday and Tuesday with picket lines and rally on the final day – Wednesday 4 December.

Branch officers will be acting as official picket supervisors, resplendent in their high-vis jackets. Local picket leaders at each location will be also be clad in yellow tabards.

If you are unsure where to picket, get in touch with your local rep or The main picket for Professional Services staff will be at the Victoria Rooms, and anyone is welcome to join that picket.

There is a list of picket locations at

National resources

Please make use of national resources. There is lots of useful material and information available at

These include FAQs, guidance on working to contract, leaflets, posters and much else. There is, for instance, an answer to the FAQ ‘I am a head of department, line manager or in another senior academic/related role. How can I best support the action?’, along with further carefully lawyered advice.

Local resources

We will be updating the Bristol UCU web page at so you can also look there for guidance. We suggest making the national guidance your first port of call.

Local hardship Fund

There’s information on claiming from the local hardship fund at

and on donating at

Do I have time to join and take action?

Yes, our membership is growing every day. Please encourage your colleagues to join. Postgrads who teach can join for free and can take part in the action. As soon as someone’s application has been submitted on our web-site they are eligible to take part in the action.

I’m not going to strike because …

UCU’s position and that of the branch is that union members – in all roles – have voted strongly in favour of striking, and so we encourage everyone to strike on every day of industrial action if at all possible. To do otherwise weakens our position. Through national and local hardship funds, there is more financial support than ever before for those taking industrial action. The University has confirmed that there will be no deductions in December, and deductions will be spread over January and February.

Notifications to HR

DO NOT notify HR in advance of 25 November that you will be taking strike action or Action Short of a Strike (ASOS).

When to notify after taking strike action

We advise that you notify at the end of the planned strike action on December 4.

We encourage staff to use an out-of-office once the action begins:

I am a UCU member and taking industrial action in defence of a fair pension, pay and conditions. Please follow this link to find out more about our dispute.

Part-timers notifying

Deductions will be made at total salary x 1/365. Part-timers should make sure they specify exactly how many hours they have taken as strike action each week and specify your total hours to ensure you’re only deducted for the hours struck.

When to notify of Action short of a strike (ASOS)

The university has said that in their view two of the strands of ASOS do not constitute partial performance and cannot attract pay deductions – these are working to contract and not undertaking voluntary duties. These do not need to be notified, though we recommend that you create out-of-office and signature files to say that you are working to contract and that emails will take longer to be answered.

The university has advised us that two areas of ASOS can be deemed partial performance, these are not covering for absent colleagues and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action. The university has advised us that, as in 2018, its policy is that colleagues cannot be required to reschedule teaching cancelled due to strike action. If you are advised that you are going to face a deduction for participation in the ASOS, please let your departmental or divisional rep know.

There is guidance on ASOS for members in professional services at

Notifications of pension contributions

The University has specified that it ‘will still pay your pension contributions if you participate in the strike or “action short of a strike”’. The university has provided a form to inform them that you wish to pay your pension contributions and for the university to do likewise. If you wish to fill in the form, you should do so after taking industrial action.

What to tell students

If you haven’t already please start “trailing” the action with your students and encourage them to support us by writing to the VC and joining us at our rallies. Make sure that students understand that we are losing pay for every day that we strike. I think lots of students don’t realise this. There is a range of material produced by UCU to help you explain the issues to students

Putting materials on BlackBoard

As far as we are aware the requirement to put materials up on BlackBoard 48 hours before a lecture is a DDA requirement so only applies if you have students with disability adjustments in the class. We believe that you can meet that requirement by emailing those specific students the materials in advance.

HPT Fee claims

HPTs, like others, should not inform HR in advance of taking action. HPTs should submit their claim as normal for all teaching (and preparation) completed or due to be completed in that month/period.

I’m due to be on leave – what do I do?

If your leave is already booked and essential, consider taking your leave and donating to the strike fund. If you are able please cancel your leave and join the strike! Even if you are away you can still be counted in the numbers which helps our position.

Teach outs

In 2018 we had some brilliant teach outs. We can provide information on possible venues, pay for booking costs, and help publicise events. Please get in touch with your branch officer team.

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

One Year On From The USS Dispute – Message from the Branch President, February 2019

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to you for several reasons. Firstly I would like to celebrate with you the first anniversary of our transformative, successful USS strike action last year. That extraordinary experience saw a wave of unprecedented joint staff and student activity that secured our USS pension scheme, keeping its current defined benefit component. Our branch is renewed, bigger and bolder, giving us successes, for example, with the timing of Easter holiday this academic year. Our case for change, forcefully made this time last year, has been reinforced by the findings of the recent Staff Survey. As I noted in a previous message to members, ‘[o]ur branch has gone from strength to strength, and will continue to do so with your help’.

To celebrate this USS strike anniversary, I and other Branch Officers have organised ‘We Are Still The University! One year on from the USS strike’ next week, Thursday, 7th March, starting at 5pm at Celia’s bench in Royal Fort Gardens moving on for a drink at the Highbury Vaults (we’ll be there by 6pm latest for those who want to meet us there).

I am also writing a few days after we learnt the result of the recent Pay and Equality industrial action ballot. Once again, as in the previous ballot, members who participated voted to take strike action over workload, casualisation, gender pay and our ever decreasing pay, but the government’s 50% turnout threshold needed to take action was not reached.

Although we will not be taking action as a result, the vote in the ballot demonstrated a strength of feeling among members that cannot be easily dismissed.

I would like to highlight once again our branch negotiating priorities and objectives, recently confirmed at our January General Meeting. These priorities include:

With your support and with your backing, Bristol UCU can secure our objectives. As branch reps have reported, significant progress has been made on each of these points, for example, the incorporation of 11 Workload Principles into current University policy drafts, a manifest University ‘commitment to reducing casualisation’, and a review of Grade J and above staff with a view to making these roles progressible, to name but three. Taken with the open recognition by senior University management of the importance of engaging with staff, this represents a step in the right direction that UCU branch officers applaud.

However, as in all negotiations, there have been a number of challenges, sticking points and points of disagreement. If we are to resolve these in our members’ favour, to push for more than our negotiators are able to secure on their own, we need a frank and open discussion with members on what is required to secure our further objectives. To this end, we invite Bristol UCU members to attend our branch General Meeting, on Wednesday 13th March at 1pm to discuss further.

It is also important to note that there are a whole host of pressing issues for members: the threat of Brexit, draconian REF performance management, University belt-tightening, the ongoing, very much still live USS pension dispute, the threat to jobs and wellbeing generated by constant change management churn in Professional Services. If we are to begin to tackle these, we need to not only recall the spirit of USS ‘18, #WeAreTheUniversity, but to put it into practical action, mobilising our resources, be that branch officer, rep or member. Our success during the USS strike was based on a branch working as one, able to come together, discuss and decide upon concrete actions.

I would also take this opportunity to note the news of the resignation of our General Secretary Sally Hunt due to ill health. I hope that I speak for all when I wish her all the best and thank her for her service and dedication to UCU and the trade union movement over many years, not least her work in securing our USS strike success.



Gender Pay Gap – Joint Statement from the University of Bristol and Bristol UCU

The Gender Pay Gap

The University of Bristol and Bristol UCU are united in their commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap at the University. We acknowledge the importance of the Equal Pay Audits that have been undertaken since 2009; however, we have shared concerns about the pace with which changes are being made towards reducing the gender pay gap and agree that further action is required.

The University of Bristol and UCU recognise that, although the gender pay gap needs to be tackled across the whole of the University, there are a number of cultural, structural and policy issues which affect women academic staff in particular. For this reason, the University has agreed to engage in time-limited negotiations with UCU with a view to agreeing actions, including setting appropriate targets, to significantly reduce the gender pay gap among academic staff within three years. These negotiations will be completed by December 2018, and their agreed outcomes will form part of the University-wide Action Plan of the Gender Pay Gap Working Group.

The University of Bristol agrees to provide leadership across and within schools and to commit resources, support and guidance to achieve this objective. It will also ensure that the University’s strategic objectives include appropriate key performance indicators.

Both the University and UCU are committed to implementing a jointly agreed action plan, and to monitoring and reviewing that plan together regularly to ensure we achieve our shared objective of eliminating the gender pay gap among academic staff at the University of Bristol.

Latest Update – Gender Pay Claim Negotiations

We are hopeful that a Joint Statement of Intent agreed by UCU and the University of Bristol Management Team (UMT) will be formally signed off by UMT at their meeting on 24th September.

Assuming that statement is formally signed off, UCU obviously welcomes this. We will clearly be looking for actions that match the words.

We had very much hoped to be able to publish the Joint Statement of Intent ahead of our first negotiating meeting ‘proper’ on 11th September but, in part, due to a significant delay in receiving an initial response to UCU’s suggested wording, this has unfortunately not been possible.

UCU had made clear at preliminary meetings that we expected UMT representatives to engage with us in discussing the elements of the claim, as the University is claiming it is committed, at the very highest level, to addressing the issue of the Gender Pay Gap. We understood that this had been agreed. Deputy VC, Guy Orpen, and Director of HR, Claire Buchanan, were both scheduled to attend the negotiating meeting on 11th September, but both pulled out at a very late stage. This was disappointing.

The meeting went ahead, but without senior decision makers in the room, progress was limited. Discussion focussed mainly on the issues of Pathway 2, opportunities for progression, and support for movement between the pathways, and we pushed the point that a commitment of resources is needed to make an impact. The next negotiating meeting is on 3rd October, and we have been assured that the Director of HR will attend this time. We very much hope that the Deputy VC will also be able to attend future meetings, as he had initially indicated he would, as UCU considers that his involvement in this process is vital.

UCU notes Guy Orpen’s message to all staff on Gender Employment and Pay, and welcome the fact that it picks up on a number of the key aspects of UCU’s Gender Pay Gap Claim. We therefore look forward to agreeing targets and timescales on a range of the proposed actions he included in his message, for example:

  • Reviewing how we recognise achievements in research, teaching, leadership and citizenship for academic progression and promotion.
  • Continuing our work to update the promotions and progression process, including the movement up and between pathways and the criteria for promotion

An important date for your diaries

The 1st of November is a very significant date; it’s the date on which the University effectively stops paying women, as a result of the 16.2% gender pay gap across the institution as a whole. We will be marking the occasion with an evening event celebrating women working at the University. Watch out for further details.