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National Campaign

Important local update – Changes to Ordinances and Pay Claim 2016

Changes to Ordinances

The University is proposing to streamline our ordinances and policies in a number of key areas for staff: discipline and grievance, capability, redundancy & redeployment, and incapacity on health grounds. When conducted properly, our present arrangements give substantially better protection to colleagues than the minimum required by UK law; such protection is essential to ensure that academic freedom and freedom of speech remain genuine features of our day-to-day work. The plan is to “update” the rules to make the University more “agile” and to align them with standard practice in other businesses.

Unfortunately, when these changes have been made at other Universities—Reading is a recent example—they have not improved collegiality. The revised rules have made it easier for managers to change procedures in individual cases, to hasten redundancy processes, and generally facilitate the rapid removal of unwanted colleagues. A University is not a typical business; its Royal Charter is a manifestation of its role in providing a public good, including a safe haven for unpopular research and contentious ideas. We should not tinker lightly with the rules that protect us. Our employer is currently selecting a firm of solicitors to help them rewrite these rules; please help UCU engage with this issue and obtain the best possible outcome for staff and for the University’s mission.

Pay Claim 2016

Our employers have offered us a pay rise of 1.1%. For most of us, this almost exactly matches the loss in take-home pay from recent changes to USS pension and national insurance contributions. We would see no cash increase in our pockets. UCU calculates that our real-terms pay has declined 14.5% over the last seven years, while senior manager (e.g VC) pay has risen sharply; we need to start to restore our loss with a substantial pay settlement.

The dispute is not just about pay; we are also seeking to turn back the rise in casual “zero hours” contracts and to reduce the gender pay gap whereby female academics are still paid less than men: a pay gap the employers have refused to address nationally. Locally, we have been making real progress with the University in developing new “fractional” contracts to replace “zero-hours”; there has also been some progress in improving the proportion of women who are promoted. But there is much still to do. And the basic pay decline must be resolved nationally.

Our members voted for strike action in the recent ballot, and the Union has called a two-day strike on 25th and 26th May. Please join us and help make the action effective.  Contact Amanda at the UCU office for further details about picket lines, etc (ucu@soton.ac.uk).  You can find further information here:  

Denis Nicole

Branch President

 

 

Southampton UCU Extraordinary General Meeting 1pm 19 May 65/1175

Members are invited to a meeting to discuss the upcoming strike action on 25 and 26 May. We shall be joined by Steve Sangwine, UCU Higher Education Committee member, who will update members on the campaign and the plans for working to contract.
Please do come along and join the discussion.

Higher education committee (HEC) agrees programme of action


The higher education committee (HEC) has now agreed the following programme of action aimed at improving the offer from 1.1%:

  • A two day national strike Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May.
  • An instruction to members to work to contract with effect from 25/05/2016. Full guidance will be issued this week on what you should and should not do.

The HEC has also agreed to make preparations for further action aimed at student admissions and at the setting and marking of students’ work should the employers not improve their offer.

Finally, outside the action,  the union will also be appealing to all members to resign, giving due notice, from currently held external examiner positions and not to take up new ones until the  dispute is settled.

Higher education (HE) ballot: your pay is shrinking, please vote today


 Higher education members are being balloted on the 2016 pay offer and you should by now have received your ballot paper in the post.

The ballot closes on 4 May. Please don’t leave it to others to speak for you – cast your vote now.

Local update for members

Colleagues

  • 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:  https://www.ucu.org.uk/he2016

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: https://members.ucu.org.uk/ 

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.

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

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:  https://campaign.goingtowork.org.uk/petitions/david-cameron-don-t-threaten-the-right-to-strike

IMG_5798 IMG_5799 IMG_5800

`Rate for the Job’ – are you paid fairly?

As part of our national campaign for fair pay within higher and further education, UCU have launched a new part of the website to collate and publish salary levels from around the country in order to create an upward pressure upon pay and support our national negotiators.

Use ‘Rate for the Job’ to:

1. Compare your salary to similar staff in your and other universities

2. See how the value of your pay has been affected by recent below inflation pay rises

3. Check how big the gender pay gap is in your institution

Help us to share this initiative by directing non-members colleagues to our blog and inviting them to partake or, better still, to join the union. https://www.ucu.org.uk/join

 

UCU national workload survey

UCU are running a national survey on workloads.  This is an issue that members frequently raise with the local branch with excessive workloads leading to work-related stress and absenteeism.

In order that we can understand more about workloads across the education sector, could you please complete the 2016 survey; it should take around 10-15 minutes and can be accessed via this link:

UCU workload survey 2016 

Everyone who completes the survey will go into a prize draw for a £100 John Lewis voucher.  Please feel free to forward this email to any interested colleagues who may not be UCU members.

Summer casework: why we all need to be in UCU

Over the summer, we have been approached by several university employees who have needed independent support and advice. The University regulations allow union caseworkers to support employees in a variety of situations, and generally the independent support provided by union is very well received. In some cases, they were long-standing employees who had just joined the union because of their problem. In others, they were non-members who approached us asking “if I join, what can you do for me?” Yet other non-members asked if they should hire a lawyer.

These approaches all suffer from a lack of understanding of the university’s (and most other employers’) processes. Let’s deal with them one by one.

Can I join if I have a problem?
Yes, you are very welcome to join at any time. The union would, however, be completely unable to balance its books, or supply volunteer caseworkers, if large numbers of staff were allowed to join, and pay membership, only while they have an employment issue. The union’s legal service imposes a strict, but short, waiting period on new members before offering support. Similarly, within the branch, we are unlikely to be able to offer support for pre-existing issues with new members.

If I join, what can you do for me?
As I say above, we can support you with your next problem. We may be able to offer informal local assistance with your current difficulties. All the while, you will be helping to improve pay and conditions for all of us.

Should I get a lawyer?
This is the big misconception. A lawyer will be of almost no use to you until it is too late. You can take your problem to him or her, and they can offer you advice. But they cannot accompany you either to an investigation or to a disciplinary hearing. You will be on your own. And they probably will not know much about local conditions at the university. Your lawyer can come to an employment tribunal, but by then, after you have been sacked, it is almost certainly too late. Even if you win, you will almost certainly not be reinstated. The chances of winning are about fifty-fifty; if you win, you can expect a cash settlement of perhaps several thousand pounds, but no job to go back to.

Almost all of the good outcomes we achieve for members are the result of dedicated work by our trained team of volunteer caseworkers. They meet with members and come to investigation and disciplinary meetings. Their accreditation training is supplemented by wide experience of what actually happens at Southampton. And, within the limits of confidentiality, they share experiences at regular meetings. In most cases, we are able to prevent problems escalating. For the more intractable cases we can call on paid union professionals, who (unlike lawyers) are also entitled to come with you to meetings. Finally, if all else fails, we are able to offer support at a tribunal. But, as I said, by then it is probably too late to keep your job. Here is what the university writes:

The member of staff has the right, if they wish, to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or a trade union representative.

The representative/companion is permitted to address the hearing in order to put forward the member of staff’s case; they can sum up the case and respond on their behalf to any view expressed at the hearing.

The representative/companion is also permitted to confer with the member of staff during the hearing.

It should be noted that the representative/companion has no right to answer questions on behalf of the member of staff, to address the hearing if the member of staff does not wish him or her to do so, or to prevent the employer explaining its case.

Representatives/companions have an important role to play in supporting a member of staff and are allowed to participate as fully as possible.

There are other important reasons for you to be in the union. If, say, a student complains about you, you will be judged according to the university’s policies. University HR won’t be much help; their role is to protect the institution, not the individual. If the policies are unfair, you don’t have much hope. We are a recognised trade union, and the university has to negotiate these policies with us before adopting them. We are able to use our experience of casework to develop policies which work for both university and staff. Our effectiveness depends on how seriously we are taken by the university; we have far more influence when we have a high membership. Indeed, for matters affecting only level seven staff (Professors, etc.), we are not yet recognised and the university declines formal negotiation. So, if you join as soon as you arrive here, you are helping to protect yourself from policies that might later be used against you.

Finally, we negotiate, and occasionally go into national dispute, over pay and pensions. We improved the employers offers on each in the last round of changes. The current round of pay negotiations is under way and pensions are again under threat. We need your support now.

Join here.
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† See Struck Out, by David Renton.

Denis Nicole