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Local update for members


  • Pay Claim  2016 – ballot for industrial action
  • Congress 2016 – representatives needed
  • UCU subscriptions – Change to Direct Debit
  • National recruitment week #3
  • Your membership record – are your details up to date?
  • Get involved with your local branch

Pay Claim 2016 – ballot for industrial action:  Further to Sally Hunt’s recent email we would like to remind members that, following an unacceptable response to the Unions’ pay claim, UCU will be balloting members for industrial action.  Ballot papers will be sent out on 14 April and the ballot will run until 4 May.  If you have not received your ballot paper by 21 April please contact the UCU office.  It is really important that we get a good turnout for this ballot so PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE.  Further details of the pay claim can be found here:

Congress 2016 – representatives needed:  UCU Congress is the national decision-making body of the union.  This year it is being held from Wednesday 1 June to Friday 3 June at the ACC Liverpool.  As a branch we are entitled to send three delegates along to Congress and it is important that we fill our quota.  We are currently seeking members who would be interested in attending to represent the views of the branch.  All expenses are paid by UCU and, as a formal delegate, you are entitled to paid time off to attend.  Could you please let me know by 22 April if you would like to attend; if you need any further information please give me a call to discuss.

UCU subscription – change to Direct Debit:  Do you currently pay your UCU subscription via salary deduction?? In an attempt to weaken trade unions and leave staff without effective representation the new Trade Union Bill proposes to cease such arrangements within the public sector.  We are therefore asking you to change your payment method to direct debit as soon as possible.  There are some quick and easy steps to follow – please contact the UCU office for further information.

National recruitment week #3:  Following two very successful national recruitment weeks which have resulted in an increase in our local membership, UCU will be running a third event w/c 16 May.  We are keen to engage with as many departments/disciplines/professional services as possible so if you would like us to hold a recruitment stand in your building/department please get in touch so that we can plan this.  We would also ask for offers of help during this week to make the event as visible and successful as possible to enable us to engage with members and non-members alike.  If you would like to get involved or have any ideas please get in touch.

Your membership record: As always, may I ask that you spend a few minutes reviewing your membership record to ensure that your information is up to date.  This is particularly important in relation to your subscription band should you need legal support from the union, as this may affect your eligibility.  You can access your record here: 

Get involved to build your local branch: And finally, we are constantly seeking active members to help build the branch.  There are several ways you can do this from becoming a local officer or departmental representative to representing members or just putting up leaflets.  In particular we are seeking representatives in several departments at the moment (including Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Ocean & Earth Science, Law, Business, Education) – could you help?  Every little helps so do please consider volunteering a small amount of your time.  Thank you.

On the run

Over the last few months, I have been trying to get lighter and fitter. The weight reduction is driven mainly by a diet of fish and vegetables: mackerel, fresh sardines, herring etc., often from the Monday stall outside the student union. The exercise for fitness has mainly been by running. I would commend to you the Saturday morning 5km Parkrun on Southampton common; hundreds of us gather north of the Hawthorns by 09:00 and are finished before 10:00. It’s all free, and led by a cheerful band of volunteers including retired mathematicians Gareth and David. Quite a few runners are recovering from injuries or sickness; it does not matter how slow you are, you will be encouraged and supported. All very much in the positive spirit of trade unionism.

Yesterday, however was a bigger run, the Eastleigh 10k. From the Union, we had Moray, our regional official; Amanda, our branch administrator; David, our retired treasurer, and at least one more member from our lab. We were running alongside, amongst a couple of thousand others, Adam Wheeler, our former Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Of the group, I was both slowest and second-oldest.

Denis Nicole
Branch President

TUC heartunions campaign – Big Workplace Meeting

Big Workplace Meeting today showing solidarity amongst the University of Southampton’s trade unions – UCU‬, UNISON and Unite – in support of the TUC’s ‪#‎heartunions‬ campaign. Thanks to all those who came along and joined in the discussion.

There’s still time to sign the petition against the TU Bill:

IMG_5798 IMG_5799 IMG_5800

Southampton UCU General Meeting – 1pm, 3 December

Please come and join us at the next UCU General Meeting which is being held from 1pm – 2.30pm on Thursday 3 December in room 2/1085, Highfield campus.  The theme of the meeting is Workloads and Wellbeing and we are delighted that Professor Adam Wheeler, DVC University of Southampton, and Shruti Verma, Vice President Education SUSU will be joining us to address our members.  There will be an opportunity for open discussion at the meeting and we hope that many of you will come along and share your views.

PwC Business Model Review

The University is currently conducting a Business Model Review in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Your UCU branch has offered to provide input to the review, but our offer has not yet been taken up. Meanwhile, as part of the process, survey questionnaires have been sent to a number of staff. The first version for Academic staff did not have ethical approval and was withdrawn on 22nd July. An amended version was approved in August. Meanwhile, another survey has been sent to MSA staff. That too does not seem to have ethical approval, but it has not been withdrawn. Both ask staff to estimate, at very short notice, the proportion of their time that they spend on various activities.

We are rather concerned about the likely trajectory of this review. PwC have an agenda of their own, The 2018 university, which envisages outsourcing a number of support activities. They also say: Gone are the days of lecturing, tutorials, reading library books and then exams. Disruptive digital technologies are and will transform education forever.  We understand Deakin University in Australia was advised by PwC to invest in IBM Watson to deliver student advice. Yes, that’s the IBM Watson that won the American Jeopardy quiz show. Coming to a student services near you. Meanwhile, Manchester University are cutting 68 IT staff; we have contacted the UCU branch there to check whether PwC are involved.

Denis Nicole

Tolpuddle Festival

There was a good UCU turnout this year at the annual TUC Tolpuddle Festival  in Dorset, on 18th to 20th July.

UCU South-West region (led by Bath) had a gazebo on the lawn in front of the main stage. That’s the first time, I think, UCU has had a stall of its own.

We marched with four UCU banners: Southampton, Bath, Keele and Newport (Wales). We also had members from Birmingham City in the march. And University of Southampton Unison marched with their banner too. In the past, Southampton has been on its own.

I bought a miners strike anniversary badge from Anne Scargill. I’ve been down a working (then) pit (Markham, by the M1 near Bolsover): out and back on the man-riding belt and crawling along a working face between the coal-cutter belt and the collapse behind the props. It’s not a career I’d want to take up.

Rose brought along the copy of Zola’s Germinal that she has been reading since we visited the Calais Mining Museum at the end of June.

But now—still—there’s no work at all in many of the villages. Visit Easington Colliery if you dare.

I was also only a couple of years out of junior school myself when the Aberfan disaster happened. The A470 dual carriageway to Merthyr runs over the tip site. And the government stole from the disaster fund to finance moving the tip—eventually to make way for the road.

That was a Nationalised industry cutting fatal corners—although the pits were even worse under private owners. At least they all  got pithead baths when Nationalised.

Denis Nicole

Southampton UCU General meeting – 1pm Weds 26 March, room 27/2003

The next UCU General meeting is taking place on Wednesday 26 March from 1.00pm – 2.30pm in room 27/2003.  The main topic of the meeting will be the upcoming marking boycott and we shall be joined by Terry Hoad, UCU HE committee member.  We would encourage you to come along and share your views with us.

Day of Action – 6 February 2014

On Thursday 6 February 2014, Southampton UCU, UNISON and Unite members joined colleagues across the UK in taking strike action for fair pay in UK higher education.  EIS in Scotland also participated in this joint industrial action.

Southampton University staff braved the monsoon-like weather to stand on picket lines throughout Highfield and Avenue campuses and disseminate flyers informing students and passersby about the current pay dispute.  Members also solicited signatures on a petition which is drawing attention to the issue of skyrocketing senior management pay in universities and the growing wage inequality in the sector generally.

At 11AM members gathered outside Building 37, the home of University management.  Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer), Professor Adam Wheeler (Provost), and Janice Donaldson (Director of HR) come out to talk with strikers about the pay issue and listen to their concerns.  Afterward there was a brief rally before strikers were urged to make their way home, dry out and warm up!

Thanks to all who came out to join us despite the weather.  UCU will be taking further strike action for two hours on Monday from 9-11AM; please come and show your support.

Strikers outside B37

Strikers outside B37

Gathering to hear some speakers

Gathering to hear some speakers

Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer) comes out to speak with strikers

Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer) comes out to speak with strikers

Spirits were high despite the downpour!

Spirits were high despite the downpour!


Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President


IMPORTANT: Information on strike action Thursday 6 Feb and feedback from 28 Jan


Firstly a big thank you to all of you who supported the second 2-hour walk-out on Tuesday afternoon.  It was a great day of action with around 50 members occupying the Arlott Bar for a teach-in.  Members joined in lively discussions on various important issues in higher education, including recruitment and retention at the University and concerns for the future of HE, and we rounded the strike off with a tribute to folk singer and activist Pete Seegar with a rendition of “Union Maid”.   Many of you who weren’t able to attend the teach-in withdrew your labour by cancelling classes and meetings and just absenting yourselves from your workplaces – we would ask that you help us show what impact the action is having by completing this very short survey:

A reminder that the next 2-hour walk-out is planned for Monday 10 February from 9.00 – 11.00 am.  Further details on this to follow.


Secondly you will all be aware of the next full day of strike action planned for Thursday 6 February.  This involves all three campus trade unions – UCU, UNISON and Unite – as well as the Scottish union EIS.  We are currently planning our joint local strategy and will be meeting with sister unions later this week.  Once we have firm plans in place we will send these out to you.  In the meantime we would ask you to:

Publicise the Pay Campaign as widely as possible within your department/academic unit by printing out and displaying the attached posters/leaflets.  These are intended to get students and non-members thinking about the action, so the more people that see these, the better.

*Poster 1

*Poster 2

*Leaflet 1:

*Leaflet 2:

Talk to students and colleagues about the action and explain why you are taking part.

Sign the online petition calling for University management to urge UCEA to return to the negotiating table

We are aware that University management are continuing to send out Faculty-wide emails asking that “union members who intend to take strike action inform their line manager by email or writing as soon as possible”.  We would reiterate that you do NOT have to alert your line manager about your decision to take strike action in advance.  When asked afterwards, however, you MUST answer truthfully.  See UCU strike FAQs here:


 Thirdly, as part of the ongoing dispute, we would like to remind members that we are still working to contract – further information on what this means and how you can support this action can be found here:

Thanks for your continued support

Southampton UCU

Two-hour strike on 23 January

Southampton UCU members participated in the first of three two-hour strikes in support of fair pay in higher education.  We saw strong turnout and media interest, with stories appearing in the Daily Echo, BBC South Today, and the Morning Star, along with local websites like and others.

Members picketed Building 37, the home of University senior management, to express our discontent at the increasing wage gap between top earners at the University and academic staff.  Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam spoke to strikers about the pay issue, and members challenged him very robustly on issues ranging from zero-hours contracts and the living wage campaign, to the broader national issue of the 2013 pay claim.

The next two-hour strike will take place from 2-4PM on 28 January, with another to follow on 10 February.  A day of joint union strike action on 6 February will incorporate all three on-campus trade unions (UCU, UNISON and Unite).

Some pictures of the events yesterday:

Southampton UCU gathering in the Piazza

Southampton UCU gathering in the Piazza

Preparing to move to Building 37

Preparing to move to Building 37


Picketing Building 37

Picketing Building 37

Coverage on BBC South Today

Coverage on BBC South Today


Members debating the issues with Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam

Members debating the issues with Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam


Eric Silverma

Southampton UCU President