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Meetings

“What’s a JNC, then?” What your union has been doing for you this week

It’s been a hectic week (well, couple of weeks, really) at Southampton UCU HQ. Even while we’re all slowly uncurling from the brace position of Week 0 and greeting our new and returning students, our intrepid committee and caseworkers have been going about campaigning on pensions, negotiations, training, representation, committee meetings, liaising with our sister campus unions – all part of the rich tapestry of local branch business.

UCU leaflets and desk ornaments

Union campaigning materials in the autumn sunshine, accompanied by the Heart of the Union and Tony, the AUT Brain.

The focus (highlight?) of the week has been the two Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) meetings on Thursday 12 October, the morning devoted to matters concerning all campus unions, and the afternoon to matters solely relating to UCU members.  The JNC is perhaps the most important event of each term, as it is where we initiate, debate, and complete formal negotiations with university management.  Any matter that has an impact on our terms and conditions of employment will eventually end up tabled at JNC: for instance, in September, we established new ground rules for policy development and approval, where University policy affects our T&Cs – and JNC is where all that work is finalised.  Most importantly, JNC is where we can hold the university to account if we feel that things have not gone – or are not going – according to the law, or our negotiated agreements, or to good practice.

We covered a great deal of ground yesterday in these meetings and some matters deserve write-ups of their own, just so this update doesn’t get too long.  For each, there is a tl;dr summary, but if you want to know more, I’ll be providing more detailed coverage over the weekend (13 Oct: I’ll be adding links as I write the more detailed posts).

  1. Pensions: The University has made its position clear, and will be issuing a press release soon.  We are very disappointed that the response has not engaged with the detailed criticisms of the valuation.  (In other news, we’ve continued campaigning for the consultative ballot on national strike action over the threat to USS.)
  2. Education matters – module evaluation scores and timetabling: We raised significant issues from our members relating to the conduct of module evaluation questionnaires and the inappropriate uses to which scores are being put, and we questioned reasons for the policy of retaining MEQ data on employees for six years.  We requested an urgent review of the Timetabling Policy, in terms of its incompatibility with the Equalities Act, and in the way some faculties are failing to implement flexible working requests.
  3. Appraisals and ERE Reward policies: We delivered robust criticism of the implementation of the ERE Reward policies, particularly appraisal, and established that the University has been operating outside our negotiated agreement of 2014.  The policies will now undergo urgent and long overdue review.

Other matters can be summarised briefly here. We raised several incidences of the University’s failure to respond to FOI and data access requests, and received assurances that the team dealing with data access has been strengthened. Also under the umbrella of communication, we reminded management that if they are going to use NSS results on feedback to, um, encourage individuals and departments to do better, they they need to up their game on feedback to us: focus group activity, working groups, suggestion email addresses… Management tell us that they engage with staff in a variety of ways, and are always seeking input and acting on it, so if that’s the case, we need to see the outcomes.

Two matters will need further discussion and work before our next JNC in March, so I’ll leave them with you to come back to us: the “expectation” of turning student emails around in three days (turnabout is fair play, so if you are left weeks without a response from HR or management, do let us know); and the imposition of Clarity [link to intranet; not for public users] as sole agents for university business travel.  We say this decision relates to our terms and conditions, particularly for those of us who self-fund our research travel, so we have insisted that it be referred to JNC’s Policy Review Group.  Please let us know if you have any difficulty arising from this (currently) unnegotiated decision.

Your UCU branch president,
Laurie

 

 

Southampton UCU General Meeting – 29 March

Members are invited to attend the next UCU General Meeting which is being held on Wednesday 29 March at 12.15pm in room 85/2207.  The topics of the meeting are:

Experiences with appraisal, two years in; and

A forward look at REF and TEF

We are now into the second year of the new appraisal process and have received a variety of concerns from members, both appraisees and appraisers, on the new system, particularly in relation to moderation at Faculty and University level, and the requirement within Faculties for final scores to conform to the “bell curve” of expectations.  The meeting will provide a forum at which you can raise your concerns, which we can then take forward with management.

With both REF and TEF on the horizon we will be discussing the impact of these processes on your current roles: in particular, possible changes in pathways (from balanced to teaching only) and how this fits with your career plans. We welcome your ideas and contributions, especially if you have concerns you would like to raise.

As we will be providing a light sandwich lunch could you please email Amanda (ucu@soton.ac.uk) if you will be attending, and any special dietary requirements, by Thursday 23 March.  Lunch will be available from 12.15pm with the meeting commencing at 12.30pm prompt. 

Universities are International – Open meeting 1 March

UCU is holding an open meeting for staff to discuss Brexit and international issues.  We are concerned by the impact of recent political decisions on our staff and students and would like to engage with colleagues to understand more about the issues that are important to you.

At the meeting we will discuss how we are campaigning on your behalf, including details of our policy charter, and how we will be engaging with management at University of Southampton to take your concerns forward. 

The meeting is being held on Wednesday 1 March at 12.30pm in room 6/1083.  It is open to UCU and non-members alike so please encourage your colleagues to attend.

If you are unable to make the meeting but have questions/queries that you would like raised, please email ucu@soton.ac.uk

 

UCU Anti-casualisation Open meeting – 23 November 2016

Are you or your colleagues employed on a fixed term/hourly paid/zero hour contract? Do you feel treated less-favourably than permanent staff?  Do you face difficulties planning your future career development?  Or even face financial problems through insecure contracts?  If so, we would like to invite you to attend a meeting to discuss your concerns.

The campaign against casualisation is one of UCU’s national priorities and we are delighted that Jonathan White, UCU’s Bargaining Policy and Negotiations Official, will address the meeting to discuss the work UCU is doing to improve working conditions, and to help move staff onto contracts that give them stability and continuity of employment.

You do not need to be a member of UCU to attend this meeting.

Please join us at:

12:30 to 13:30

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Room 58/1007 L/T C (Murray Building)

Highfield Campus

Southampton UCU General meeting – 12pm 9 November

Colleagues

The coming year is going to be very busy for Southampton University UCU.

The new University Strategy puts many jobs at risk and we have to decide the Union’s approach to the proposed changes.  At a national level, we have the ongoing Industrial Dispute, along with extra pressures from EU exit and the Higher Education Bill.

We will be holding our General Meeting on Wednesday 9 November in room 58/1007 (Murray Building L/T C) from 12pm – 1.30pm.  Please join us for lunch and help guide the direction of Southampton University UCU over the coming months.  For catering purposes please email your attendance and any dietary requirements by Friday 4 November to Amanda at ucu@soton.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Fighting racism in Southampton – 1 October 2016

The following message is sent on behalf of Southampton and South West Hampshire Trades Union Council

We have had news that the same group of Fascists that came to Southampton in July this year are planning to return this Saturday 1st October 2016. They are planning to hold an anti-immigrant protest under the banner ‘White Lives Matter’ but they have not publicised where or when in our city they plan to do this. Information will come out nearer the time but what we do know is that this is not a solitary event they propose but one of many and they have also announced an event in Portsmouth along the same lines to take place the week after on 8th October.

There is a proposal for those interested in a counter-demonstration as we had in July to meet at the Bargate at 11am in the city centre. It may be a ‘false flag’ operation with a no-show from the Fascists but just in case many want to meet and be prepared should they do. All are invited to come along as last time and Police have been made aware so should be in attendance also.

There is a meeting to discuss this on Tuesday evening held by Southampton Stand Up To Racism at 7pm in the West Itchen Community Trust, Ropewalk Centre, 53 Derby Road, Southampton, SO14 0DJ. All are welcome!

Open meeting for academic-related, professional staff

Dear colleagues

UCU is holding a meeting for academic-related professional staff at levels 4 and above on Wednesday 27 July from 12- 1.30 pm in room 32/3077.  We would like to provide an opportunity to discuss issues that are specific to you and to understand how UCU can work to improve working conditions for you at the University.

A light lunch will be provided so if you wish to attend please email Amanda at ucu@soton.ac.uk so we can cater accordingly.

Many thanks

Today’s general meeting

Thank you all for coming to today’s General Meeting in building 45. I hope you found it interesting and useful. This has been a busy week for your branch committee; events in Modern Languages have been moving quickly.

I have uploaded the slides from the meeting, complete with the motions as amended. Please:

  • continue to let Amanda know any information you find out about changes to working practices, or anything else you think important;
  • tell us how you got on with the new L4-6 appraisal. Was teaching given due prominence?
  • Think about coming to UCU Congress as a delegate, and
  • prepare to take action to support our pay claim.

Remember that changes to USS pensions and National Insurance will cost you money this year. Colleagues in the Final Salary scheme will pay 0.5% more; newer colleagues in CRB will pay an extra 1.5%. And you will lose about a further £500 in NI payments. So, if we don’t receive at least a 2% pay rise, many of us will actually be paid less in the coming year.

Denis Nicole
Branch President

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.

Special General Meeting – USS proposed changes

Southampton UCU held a special General meeting on 11 September to highlight the proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.  The meeting was attended by approximately 60 members and provoked a lively and interesting debate with members who showed real concern about the impact of the proposals.  After all, your pension is deferred pay – it is part of your overall pay package.

The Employers’ consultation is based on a Hybrid.  This will redefine the way that the salary link for past service is worked out from a link to the individual members’ final salary to CPI.  All future service (for all members) will be based on a core defined benefit scheme modelled on the current career-average scheme for new starters up to a cap (the example given is £40k).  Above the cap, members and employers could contribute to a defined contribution scheme.

The powerpoint presentation can be found here:

140911 Southampton UCU GM on USS

A UCU conference on USS has been called for Friday 19 September to discuss these proposals and to plan our way forward.  We will update members following this meeting.

We cannot stress enough that if these proposals go ahead they will have a serious impact on YOUR pension.  Please encourage your non-member colleagues to join UCU – the more members we have the stronger the voice.  www.ucu.org.uk/join