Category Archives: Pay & Equality Ballot 2019

Plans and Guidance for Industrial Action – Bristol UCU

Picketing

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 ucu-office@bristol.ac.uk 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 https://bristolucu.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/picket-locations/

National resources

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

https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction

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 https://www.ucubristol.org.uk/ 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

https://www.ucubristol.org.uk/guidance-note-claiming-from-the-bristol-hardship-fund-for-hourly-paid-teachers-hpts/

and on donating at

https://www.ucubristol.org.uk/bristol-ucu-hardship-fund/

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.

https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction

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 https://www.ucu.org.uk/ASOS-and-ARPS

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 https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction

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.

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.

#WeAreStillTheUniversity,

Tracey

United, We Can Win – Vote Yes Yes in the Ballot

Please vote in the current UCU Pay and Equality Ballot. Your vote is vital.

UCU is currently balloting its members on whether to take industrial action and action short of a strike. As things stand, University managements, our employers are not prepared to take action on excessive workloads, insecure jobs, a manifest gender pay gap and falling pay.

This matches the picture at Bristol. At this University, just under half of all academic staff are on insecure contracts, restructure after restructure means a state of perpetuity insecurity for professional service staff and 70% of women academics at Bristol are on the most insecure career ‘pathways’ 2 and 3. Workloads continue to go up and up.

And, while we hear whispers of coming cuts and further belt tightening, it still seems far easier to splash the cash on another Senior Managerial position or VC-sponsored capital project than it is to invest in front-line staff.

UCU wants all Universities to take action. Without a vote in favour of taking action, UCU will be unable to make Universities take action on workloads, casualisation, the gender pay gap and fair pay. Our recent successful strike to defend and secure our USS pensions showed that united, we can win.

If you want us to achieve similar results, Vote Yes Yes in the ballot, for strike action and action short of a strike.

It is vital that you vote. A strong union is a union that turnouts to vote. Supporting members through difficult times, changing bad policy, protecting our members’ interests: all of this depends on us being a strong, engaged branch that deserves the respect and recognition of our employers.

The ballot closes on Friday, 22nd February. Your ballot must be posted by Wednesday, 20th February at the latest. Haven’t got a ballot? Go to:

http://tinyurl.com/ReplacementBallot2019

You will need to order a replacement before Monday, 18th February.

Thank you