Category Archives: Gender Pay Claim

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.