Tag Archives: University of Bristol

Branch Negotiators’ Update

At our Joint Consultative and Negotiating Committee (JCNC) last week, the University’s senior team signalled that they wished to discuss pay at the University of Bristol, as part of the institutional response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Campus union negotiators – UCU, Unite, Unison – have not agreed to any proposals on pay – either a freeze or a cut – or to changes to contracted terms and conditions. As of yet, no proposals have been put to campus unions.

Formally, Joint Union negotiators have requested a ‘data pack’ spelling out the rationale for any proposals. We anticipate having sight of the University’s emergency budget for 2020/21, with its assumptions and proposals, next week at Tuesday’s JCNC. UCU negotiators will report back at the General Meeting on 20th May. Our branch Executive Committee met yesterday to discuss anticipated proposals and a range of possible branch responses.

Bristol UCU negotiators have been keen to establish the financial rationale for current policy and future proposals. Precarious contract staff are already currently facing the cost of the institutional approach to risk. Any discussion about their future and the future of all staff must take into active account alternatives to contracts not being extended and workload simply being added to the already excessive workloads of substantive staff.

Our main priority has been to look to secure members’ jobs, their existing terms and conditions and question the grounds for profound institutional decisions made before the true institutional balance sheet of COVID-19 is known.

As negotiators and a branch, we are faced with choices. Do we enter further ‘scoping’ discussions now before any firm proposals are made? Do we rule out all potential detrimental changes? Do we now look for certain guarantees as a condition of entering further talks? These questions will and should be determined by members. It is imperative (if unfair given current workload) members start discussing among themselves the policy and position of the branch, and feed this back to negotiators and Branch Reps.

Pathway 2 and 3 colleagues have already begun to do so, proposing a branch ‘Motion from Academic Staff on Fixed-Term Contracts from Pathways 2 and 3 regarding the University of Bristol’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic’, demanding ‘the University adopts a ‘jobs first’ response to the current crisis. Securing ongoing employment of existing University staff should be the institutional priority, and the priority of Universities UK (UUK)’ [link].

Staff ‘Furloughing’ at Bristol – Branch Negotiators’ Update

Bristol UCU reps along with Unite and Unison reps continue to negotiate over the University’s response to and use of the new Job Retention Scheme which ‘provides a grant to reimburse employers for 80 per cent of an employee’s wage of up to £2,500 per month for those designated as “furloughed”’.

As a priority, we continue to push for the Scheme to cover Temporary Service Staff out of work from 9th April, and to call for an update on whether this Scheme will cover fixed-term contract research and teaching staff.

From the University’s point of view, there is a good deal of uncertainty around the scheme, not least because of the public element of universities funding: ‘where employers receive public funding for staff costs and that funding is continuing, they expect employers to use that money in the normal way to meet staffing costs’. Universities UK and UCU are lobbying the government to clarify the Scheme for Higher Education employers

One thing is clear: the introduction of any University of Bristol Job Retention ‘furloughing’ Scheme is a matter of collective bargaining at the University, and requires the active involvement of UCU, Unison and Unite negotiators, and the formal consent of their respective branches. Staff cannot be furloughed without their agreement.

Lecture Capture Policy – Online Learning

As the University of Bristol transitions to online learning, the concern among lecturing UCU members is that their Re/Play lecture recordings, currently being used and adapted as material in alternative teaching provision for 2019/20, will be used as an institutional online archive from which material can be drawn to substitute for future lectures.

Having spoken to those leading the University’s COVID-19 Education response, we do not believe that is likely, as long as current policy and practice regarding the recording of lectures is maintained. Our understanding is that there are no plans to use lecture recordings as a substitute for lectures in the future, but we would welcome clarity on this. Lecture recordings have been used thus far as a supplement to, not a replacement for, University of Bristol teaching.

For Bristol UCU and the University, the policy is that lectures should

a) be asked before any use of their lecturer recordings i.e. Re/Play lectures

b) should give their explicit consent to that use

c) make sure that the use of their lecture recording is time-limited e.g. for this extended academic year by making that clear in the permission communication (e.g. email)

d) In the case of using lecture recordings to replace lectures that were not given in the strike, the lecturer can and should refuse permission if asked

Members are, as always, highly committed to supporting students, Fundamentally, it should simply be a matter of courtesy for lecturers to be asked if their lecture recordings can be used in these extraordinary circumstances.

Message From the Branch President

1) Message From The Branch President

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for the branch (!). Like many others, I’m in the second week of family isolation with two small children after our three-year old developed a cough (he’s now on the mend, and seriously noisy). In recent days, branch officers have been working closely with our fantastic colleagues in UNISON and UNITE to safeguard members. We’ve been discussing a range of issues with the university from building access to the transition to online teaching.

As always, the solidarity of colleagues has been very apparent, as has a deep concern for the most vulnerable members of our community.

All best,

James

2) Branch Priorities – COVID-19 Institutional Response

The main points of branch negotiating currently are

Strike Pay Deductions. We have formally asked the University to cancel strike pay deductions. The University could also consider postponing future deductions, or adopt other mitigating measures. Other universities – Kings College London, Southampton, St Andrews and Sheffield – have adopted such measures in response to the current exceptional demands placed on their staff.

Dependent’s Leave. Branch reps are currently waiting for the University’s latest proposal.
Restructurings. UCU and Unison reps are in talks with HR to discuss whether a ‘pause’ on restructurings, particularly if in the very early stages, is feasible.

Online Transition and Workload. We are discussing with the University the demands of transitioning to online teaching provision and the changes to assessment and quality assurance.

Lecture Recordings. We are in communication with the University on the use of lecture recordings. Fundamentally, any use of recordings should continue to require the lecturer’s explicit consent.

Securing Jobs. The recruitment freeze has meant fixed-term UCU members are concerned about their future reemployment. Branch reps are continuing to press for, in the case of research staff, the use of grant monies saved during this period to extend the grant period. In the case of fixed-term teaching staff, these colleagues are integral to the institution’s teaching provision, and are needed more than ever.

3) Going Forward

Bristol UCU branch reps have been at pains to stress the exceptional nature of the current situation, and to note the hard work being carried out across the University by all staff.

There have also been some excellent steps taken, for example, the decision by the University to pay a merit payment, starting at £250, to frontline essential member of staff such as cleaners and estates staff. This was unanimously agreed by joint trade union reps – Unite, Unison and UCU. UCU reps welcomed this step as recognizing the work of staff who do not have the option of remote working.

UCU nationally and locally welcomes the putting on hold of REF2021. We trust that this allows Bristol and other institutions to introduce and enforce the necessary workload adjustment to prioritise the provision of teaching. Staff with teaching and research responsibilities, pathway 1 lecturers, should see a different tone and approach to research performance management and internal audit deadlines in this respect.

The University has also guaranteed Hourly-Paid Teachers payment for the hours they are scheduled to deliver this year.

UCU branch reps are keen to work closely with the University to address the local issues highlighted above.

4) Claiming From Local Hardship Fund

HPT? Fixed-Term? Grade J and below? Don’t forget: you can still claim from our Hardship Fund, if you haven’t already done so.

Details:

Guidance note – claiming from the Bristol Hardship Fund

Bristol UCU: COVID-19 Update, Notifying HR of Strike Action, Hardship Fund Applications

Dear Bristol UCU Members,

COVID-19 Update

You will have seen the email from UCU General Secretary Jo Grady on Monday, 16th March, and the email from the University management team yesterday, both responding to the increased precautions around social distancing set out by the Prime Minister.

As branch negotiators, we are already in discussion with University of Bristol Senior Management, and with our sister campus unions Unite and Unison, about the workplace health and safety issues for all staff arising from this crisis. Our main priority is that all staff having to come into work, working from home and reporting sickness absence ‘do not suffer any detriments in their pay or working conditions as a result of the outbreak’.

Please note:

  • All staff with an underlying health condition (or those living with someone with one) should inform their line manager of their increased risk to coronavirus. If you feel that the duties you are being asked to undertake put you at risk , then you should immediately raise this with line management.
  • If at that point your manager asks you to continue with your duties you should request a formal health and safety risk assessment (Employers have a legal obligation to protect their health and safety and that of their workforce. Regulation 3, of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, requires, among other things, that all employers assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees while they are at work)
  • Ultimately if you really feel that your safety and welfare is at risk and that your concerns are being ignored, then you can withdraw from working (there is a provision for this in Section 100 (1)(e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996). However, this is a last resort and you should contact UCU for further advice before implementing this right
  • We would like to assure our members in Professional Services, and other members who are not doing front-line teaching (such as research-focused staff), that we are continuing discussions about what the end of term will mean for them. We are seeking assurances and guarantees on issues such as leave reporting, sick pay, working from home, deadlines, protecting vulnerable and precarious staff, and resourcing home working.

We will continue to update members as these discussions progress. We have a Joint Consultative and Negotiating Committee meeting on Friday, for example.

Notifying HR of Strike Action

Remember that you need to report all strike days to HR via industrial-action-response@bristol.ac.uk by Friday 3 April. A reminder of how to report and guidance for part-timers is in this blog post [link].

Hardship Fund Applications

We are still happy to receive applications for funds from both the local [link] and national hardship funds [link]for the second tranche of pay deductions from the November/December action. HPTs can continue to claim for contact hours lost during the last fourteen days of action.

Sending solidarity to all our members during this difficult time.

Bristol UCU – Thanks and Return to Work

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for another amazing day on the picket line. Thanks to our General Secretary and to all the speakers at our rally. It was great to welcome members from other branches in the South West for our rally and march.

Return to work … action short of a strike

We return to work tomorrow for two days before taking action again from next Monday.

Remember that we should all be participating in action short of a strike (ASOS). HQ have produced guidance on ASOS for both Professional Services staff [link] and academic staff [link].

Please take a moment to remind yourself of what you shouldn’t be doing!

It’s important to remember to observe the digital picket line [link] whilst taking strike action.

Notifying HR of Strike Action

As mentioned previously – to avoid pay deductions in one amount – we suggest that members follow HR’s guidance and notify their February strike days this week or on Friday 6 March at the latest. A reminder of how to report and guidance for part-timers is in this blog post [link].

Hardship Fund Applications

February pay slips are now on MyERP [link] so applications can be made to both the local [link] and national hardship funds [link] for the second tranche of pay deductions from the November/December action.

HPTs can claim now for contact hours lost during the last five days of action.

Weeks 3 and 4 of Action

Action continues for the next two weeks. Strike days are:

  • week three: Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
  • week four: Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March.

We’ll be in touch later this week with further details of plans for weeks 3 and 4.

With best wishes

James and your branch officer team

Returning to Work….Bristol UCU Advice

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for doing Bristol proud with such a solid show of support during this important action. We’ve had brilliant turn outs on our beautifully decorated picket lines, shown strength in numbers at our rallies, sung Dolly Parton in the driving rain, and returned the support we’ve enjoyed from our students by joining them on the climate march.

The Vice Chancellor listened to Lydia Medland speak at our first rally and agreed to meet with casualised staff. That group put forward a list of short-term, priority demands to start to deal with the chronic underpayment of their work. See their statement and subsequent letter to the Vice Chancellor:

https://tinyurl.com/HPT-letter-to-VC-strike2019 

Please sign the open letter [link] if you haven’t already.

In this email:

  • Action Short of a Strike (ASOS)
  • Reporting your absence to HR and pension contributions
  • Claiming from and donating to the local and national strike fund

Action Short of a Strike (ASOS)

We are back to work on Thursday but we are continuing with Action Short of a Strike (ASOS).

Members are asked to:

  • work no more than their contracted hours where those hours are expressly stated, and in any event not to exceed the maximum number of hours per week stipulated in the Working Time Regulations (48) unless you have signed an opt-out
  • perform no additional voluntary duties, such as out of hours cover, or covering for colleagues (unless such cover is contractually required)
  • set and mark no work beyond that work which they are contractually obliged to set and/or mark
  • attend no meetings where such attendance is voluntary on the part of the member.

Remember that your working day should include at least a 30 minute lunch break. Start putting lunch breaks in your calendar and arrange to meet colleagues. As in 2018, please note the university’s expectation of a 35-hour working week. Start to refuse meetings which don’t allow you a break. #reclaim your lunch break, #reclaim your evening, #reclaim your weekend.

If you have a question, there are comprehensive FAQs on the national strike info centre. There is additional information for Professional Services members here [link].

If you are still unsure, then contact your School and Divisional Rep. If all else fails, contact ucu-office@bristol.ac.uk.

ASOS out-of-office and signature files

I am a member of the University and College Union and taking action short of a strike in defence of a fair pension, pay and conditions. This includes working to contract, and consequently it will take me longer to reply to emails during the dispute.

Reporting your absence to HR and maintaining your pension contributions

On return to work you should notify HR of the action you took. The deadline for this is Thursday 5th December or first day back at work if you don’t work Thursdays. The University will be paying the employer pension contributions for deducted pay but members must inform HR if they wish to pay the employee contribution for deducted days. You should email industrial-action-response@bristol.ac.uk making clear:

  • your name and School/Division;
  • the date(s)/hours that you took action
  • confirmation that you wish to maintain your pension contributions for pay lost to strike action.

You will be deducted pay at the rate of 1/365 per full day of action taken. No deductions will be made in December, but will be spread over January and February.

Part-time staff reporting

Part-time staff will be deducted: total salary x 1/365 for each full day of action taken.

If you are part-time, we suggest that you say something like:

Week 1 – Monday 25 November – Friday 29 November. I took strike action on Monday 25 November and Thursday 28 November for a total of 14 hours. I work 0.4 FTE (14 hours per week)

Week 2 – Monday 2 – Wednesday 4 December. I took strike action on Monday 2 December (7 hours). I work 0.4 FTE (14 hours per week).

Hourly paid tutors – please notify HR in the same way. This is what HR has told us about rescheduling/payment of prep and assessment hours:

We encourage hourly-paid teachers to reschedule their teaching. The University will pay in full for all teaching that is delivered (contact hours, preparation and assessment). If staff are unable to reschedule teaching for reasons beyond their control then they will nonetheless be paid for preparation (and assessment if applicable) but they will not be paid for contact hours.

Claiming from and donating to the local and national strike fund

We welcome immediate claims from HPTs for contact hours lost during the strike action on the understanding that those hours will not be rescheduled. Full details here of the local and national funds.

Staff on fixed-term and open-ended contracts cannot claim until pay has been deducted.

Donations can be made to the local fund [link].

With best wishes

James and your branch officer team

Humans. Not Resources.

Bristol UCU launched its Humans. Not Resources campaign with a launch event IN November last year, a campaign in support of Bristol UCU’s current 20-point Anti-Casualisation Claim.

Around 40 people attended, sharing and discussing their experiences of working on casual, precarious contracts. They came from across the University, representing many of its Schools, Departments and Divisions.

The event kicked off with some mingling, some drinks and a few nibbles, as well as some anti-casualisation ‘jenga’, designed and ably administered by Paul Hurley, UWE and University of Bristol Artist-in-Residence.

Vicky Blake, UCU’s Vice President for Higher Education, opened the session with a vibrant and empowering talk. She reminded us that staff solidarity is the key point, a solidarity which is vertical as well as horizontal:

The power of communal actions and speaking out about casualisation is that it can articulate our demands for the cause of anti-casualisation while reducing the fear of doing so. It makes it easier for us to speak out about what is really happening and to name it as being unfair

Nick Varney, UCU’s South West Regional UCU official, pointed out that Bristol UCU is one of the first few union branches to make a local institutional claim. As the sixth biggest UCU branch (in terms of membership), Bristol UCU now has the power to negotiate with our employer to effect serious change. Nick also congratulated the Gender Pay Gap Claim negotiating team, currently negotiating Bristol UCU’s second institutional claim:

Thanks for educating our employer that we negotiate now, we just don’t sit and listen. We fight for this, we put a claim, this is our claim and we expect a positive outcome for these negotiations

Steve Parfitt, a casualised member of staff at the University of Nottingham and author of the International Labor and Working-Class History article ‘Academic Casualization in the UK’, shared his own experience as an HPT and fixed-term, 9-month teaching staff member. He hoped that Bristol’s local claim would be springboard for other local branch claims.

A number of speakers from the University of Bristol shared their experiences. A professor from the Social Sciences and Law Faculty acknowledged and apologised for his initial obliviousness to the issue. Until he started talking with casualised staff of his own School during the 2018 USS strike, he was unaware of the scale of the issue. He encouraged fellow members of staff to show solidarity with colleagues in precarious positions, by listening, learning and taking action at their own intra-school level.

Post-docs on short-term research contracts shared their experience of being casualised: the daily burden of financial insecurity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, self-depreciation, loneliness, hoping from country to country, from Universities to University, a general sense of managerial coercion:

The universities, and not only Bristol, keeps the bottleneck of employment artificially narrow, and I say artificially because they have a financial interest at doing so. And the cost is paid by us. Materially and non-materially, with high mental health issues and so on

When I look at post doc and fellows in my department, I think we all have the same experience across all schools. I think casualisation has a catastrophic effect on mental health of people. A recent study that came out last year found that 44% of academics have a major or minor mental health issue, which is just over twice the average percentage in the global population, and over four times what it was 45 years ago. Insomnia, depression, anxiety… It doesn’t make our department any different than anywhere else, and no one wants to say they have a problem, and everyone thinks they are alone. Casualisation means that there is a lack of support

Another contributor talked about the difficulties involved in teaching on a casualised contract:

There is also an impact on the implication you want to have on building courses, as you don’t know for how long you will be there. At the end of the year, you have ideas of what you would do differently next year, but obviously you are not sure you will be there, and you don’t have any structural support to put that in place. In the same way, as people get employed at the beginning of September, they have only one or two weeks to prepare all their teaching before the students arrives, and there is no time to changes, improve, get a better quality over the year. And this is not because of we are not good at our job, but because of the structural uncertainty of the contracts

The contributor embraced Vicky Blake’s call for vertical solidarity, from staff and on the part of students:

One of the other big things about this, is the vertically solidarity that should run along the students too. They are in a context where they brought a lot of money to the university for their studies, and they are not aware of how much of their teaching and face to face time is done by people on casual contracts…Making the students aware of these issues, can be a powerful part of the campaign, we need this vertical solidarity also coming from them

Many of the casualised workers present were, candidly, afraid to talk. Speaking about their working conditions was for PhD students and part-time staff a risky business:

I don’t want to look ungrateful

I feel insecure not being in a stable position. So much, at least for PhD students, futures reside on references, network etc, that you don’t want to be blacklisted

The treatment of casualised staff as shared by contributors is an all too familiar one: unpaid hours, late payments, unpaid training, going to conferences on your own money and time, an ever-expanding workload, the expectation that unfair working conditions are ‘expected’ of junior staff.

Other testimonies drew attention to the cost of casualisation. One speaker attested to a career based on casual contracts, leading to serious mental and physical health issues. Another speaker spoke of ‘surfing the ride of uncertainty’ for nearly 10 years, unable to build a career from what scant opportunities existed.

If Humans. Not Resources. showed anything, it showed that ‘we’ are not alone. This is not an individual’s problem; it is a problem of casualisation, of the system we are caught up in.

One speaker brought up Naomi Klein’s argument in No Logo:

Companies see themselves as organisers of collections of contractors as opposed as employment organisations

Coming out of the meeting, it was clear that we needed to ensure that our University does not become a place of (further) social injustice and despair. So said the collective voices of PhD students, fellows, post-docs, temporary staff, hourly paid teachers, fixed-term workers represented at our event. Voices of highly educated people, smart, generous, dedicated to their jobs, proud of their research, passionate. People who love their jobs and want to do it well. Who need security and fairness. Who need solidarity from colleagues and students.

And who need change:

Everything I am building my life around is temporary and disposable. And that’s how the university views you. And the job feels great; but not knowing what’s going to happen is hard, relationships, mortgage, house, family, it affects everything

For more information:

  • The Bristol UCU Anti-Casualisation Claim:

https://cpb-eu-w2.wpmucdn.com/blogs.bristol.ac.uk/dist/4/295/files/2018/10/Bristol-UCU-Anti-Casualisation-Claim-5th-October-2018-tspeee.pdf

  •  ‘Fighting the gig economy – of academics not students’, The Bristol Cable, 27th November 2018:

https://thebristolcable.org/2018/11/fighting-the-gig-economy-of-academics/

  • ‘University of Bristol lecturers ‘in precarious employment’ call time on hourly contracts’, Bristol Post, 16th November 2018:

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/university-bristol-lecturers-in-precarious-2225173

  • ‘New UCU campaign to reduce casual contracts for University staff’, Epigram, 14th November 2018:

https://epigram.org.uk/2018/11/14/new-ucu-campaign-to-end-casual-contracts-for-university-staff/

  • ‘Tackling Precarious Contracts at the University of Bristol: Bristol UCU Update on Our Anti-Casualisation Claim’, bristolucu blog, 13th June 2019:

https://bristolucu.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/tackling-precarious-contracts-at-the-university-of-bristol-bristol-ucu-update-on-our-anti-casualisation-claim/

Tackling Precarious Contracts at the University of Bristol: Bristol UCU Update on Our Anti-Casualisation Claim

Where do we stand with Bristol UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Claim? What next and what needs to be done? How far (or not) have we come? Claim negotiators recap recent Claim negotiating, detail what needs to be done and outline future actions.

Tackling precarious contracts, ending insecurity of employment is a key Bristol UCU branch priority, hence our Bristol UCU Anti-Casualisation Claim. There have already been some positive developments as regards the Claim, not least the commitment by the University and some Heads of School to address insecure employment, but there are also key demands that Claim negotiators are keen to press for. These include:

  • parity of treatment for staff technically employed as cover for, for example, staff on research leave and as maternity cover
  • issuing of fixed term, fractional contracts rather than hourly paid contracts
  • bridging fund support for fixed-term research staff
  • offering open-ended part-time contracts to long-serving hourly-paid staff with low contract hours
  • ending use of 9- and 10-month teaching contracts

Where We Are

In October last year, this branch submitted an Anti-Casualisation Claim to the University. This was part of UCU’s existing strategy of encouraging and supporting branches to submit local claims: a concrete list of demands requiring a formal public agreement between individual universities and their UCU branches. See also our Gender Pay Gap Claim in this regard.

Following our highly successful USS industrial action, UCU, at a branch, regional and UK level, saw an opportunity to take our picket line grievances concerning insecure terms of employment and to effect meaningful reform at our institutions. As the strike showed, and arguably last year’s University of Bristol Staff Survey corroborated, the use of short-term, precarious contracts, and the inequitable treatment of casualised staff, was an issue front and centre of Bristol’s ‘staff experience’, requiring urgent remedy.

The Bristol UCU Claim has 20 demands: please click on the link to read the Claim [link]. In summary, these look to reduce the use of unnecessary short, temporary contracts, to see that staff are paid fairly for all work that they do and to ensure parity of workplace treatment for fixed-term and hourly-paid teaching staff.

Following the Claim’s submission, the University of Bristol and Bristol UCU committed to work together to reduce the precarious employment of academic and professional services staff on fixed-term contracts of employment. This commitment was expressed in the joint statement issued by the University and Bristol UCU in January. The statement made it clear that security of work and excellent staff experience are aims to which both the University and UCU are committed.

This was a positive first step on the part of the University, which Bristol UCU Claim negotiators are quick to acknowledge. As well as the joint statement, UCU and University reps established a Special Interest Group to negotiate the Claim, and as a vehicle for ongoing Claim negotiations, we have established a Precarious Contracts Review Group. This Review Group is populated by two HR Project Officers working directly for the project, as well as University and UCU representatives.

This example of constructive partnership working was recently cited in Liz Morrish’s acclaimed report Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff as an example of universities rightly taking responsibility for the consequences of precarious working.

What Needs To Be Done?

As members may have noted, timescales in the Claim have not been stuck to, for example, a conclusive agreement was to be reached by January 2019. The ongoing, open nature of negotiations is something that your branch negotiators have largely accepted as many of the Claim’s points are being addressed. Branch negotiators are happy to continue with open negotiations but would be concerned if more concrete agreement on our priorities did not look likely to be achieved in the autumn.

Branch negotiators are keen to campaign on those points of the claim that we feel the University needs to address as a matter of urgency.

We are pushing for:

parity of treatment for staff technically employed as cover. For example, staff with the same length of service, one on a fixed-term contract and one employed on a cover ‘some other substantial reason’ contract, should be treated equally as regards rights accruing from length of their service. Currently, staff on cover contracts do not get access to the University’s redeployment pool or redundancy pay. We have had a recent instance of a member of staff with over 10 years’ service, whose last contract was a cover role, being denied access to redeployment and to redundancy pay. This requires an urgent change to University ordinances, in place by the autumn, to remove reference to contracts for reasons of cover being grounds for a ‘some other substantial reason’ contract.

issuing of fixed term rather than hourly paid contracts. This could potentially end the administrative burden of submitting fee claims when contracted hours have already been established in advance, as well as encouraging contract standardization, making it easier to establish parity of remuneration for staff with the same workload and on the same grade.

bridging fund support for fixed-term research staff. Our research Pathway 2 staff live from project to project, from grant to grant. We believe the modest step of the explicit ring-fencing of bridging funds at, for example, a Faculty level, will support staff in making funding applications, demonstrating a commitment to develop staff’s careers and potentially bringing in important research funding for this institution.

offering open-ended part-time contracts to long-serving hourly-paid staff with low contract hours. We would like to see a progressive revision to the existing policy to recognise those teaching staff that have been employed at Bristol for a substantive period of time, and currently do not have the minimum number of hours needed to be converted to more secure fractional ‘permanent’ contracts.

ending use of 9- and 10-month teaching contracts. Giving fixed-term teaching staff the necessary paid time to prepare and develop their teaching, or to carry out their scholarship duties, is a duty of the University. Stopping the issuing of contracts that do not take workload and career development into account is a principle that the University should support. Durham University has done it; why not Bristol?

What Next?

In advance of the start of the new academic year, the Humans. Not Resources campaign is planning to issue a leaflet highlighting our Claim and its demands. Publicizing the claim, versing the university community in its terms of debate is a vital branch task.

Bristol UCU recognises the positive partnership work that has been so far in this ‘project’. Work is ongoing – the Precarious Contract Working Group has an action grid and timeline, for instance. Branch negotiators are keen, though, to push for those parts of the Claim that we have not seen any movement on, and look to members’ support in doing so.

Bristol UCU’s anti-casualisation work, and UCU’s anti-casualisation work in general, is long-standing, and the progress of this branch Anti-Casualisation Claim is the fruit of these labours.