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Pay Claims

Who pays to work at the University? or ‘A different kind of expenses scandal’

Following on from the concern about VC expense accounts earlier in the year, staff here have recently received emails reminding them of the rules governing expense claims and asking us to use the new corporate travel agency to make travel and accommodation bookings. UCU members have raised various concerns about the additional charges and sometimes higher priced tickets incurred via this new system, but this blog is about a different kind of expense – the money many staff spend to support the work they do here at the University, but which they cannot or do not reclaim.

Below is the list of the out of pocket expenses of staff we have compiled from a small sample of members of Southampton UCU. We welcome your additional examples to add to this list:

  • Exchange rate and commission charges on foreign currency used during work related travel, conferences etc. These can add up, especially for those who have to make frequent visits abroad on University business.
  • Allied to this many staff now pay their own conference fees and travel expenses to disseminate their University work or undertake professional development. Those caring for babies and young children may bear the cost of a companion to look after them if they have to accompany them, and this is another extra cost.
  • Ditto for research trips – many disciplines have no research budget or limited funds for ECRs only so that other staff are forced to self fund these vital activities.
  • Publication comes at quantifiable cost for many. Some colleagues have to pay for image reproduction costs and rights and these cost can exceed £1000. If these are not covered by a grant then the staff member has to pay to publish.
  • Visa costs for overseas travel are another a huge expense – we know of at least one junior colleague who had a prestigious fellowship that did not cover these costs.
  • Computers /laptops: several colleagues report that they have had to buy/upgrade these from personal funds.
  • Stationery: as budgets have been cut the impact has been felt on these everyday supplies. UCU members report buying envelopes, notepads as well as materials used in teaching or research. The Secret Teacher alerted readers of the Guardian to the fact that school teachers have long been subsidising school budgets, and it seems a similar practice occurs here. We are also aware that some research staff buy the majority of their own equipment for unfunded field trips for research or teaching.
  • Visiting speaker and external examiners’ refreshments– once again cuts to budgets mean that looking after these visitors typically means just a sandwich and a can of pop, and this often does not seem to adequately express our gratitude for expert speakers and examiners who may travel for 4-5 hours to viva our students, assess our education programmes or share their research knowledge. Whilst this varies by Faculty, we know that some staff are paying out of their own pockets to save the University’s reputation and maintain goodwill.
  • Books – yes some of us still use books, and we also pay for personal subscriptions to journals and these are a business expense.
  • Mobile phone – many staff use their personal mobile and data allowance for work and do not claim this. Having access to the internet at home has become necessary for most as work has followed us home in evenings and weekends.
  • Professional society subscriptions and memberships are another work expense falling on academic-related professional services, and academic staff alike – often these are required for accreditation or promotion and yet are paid from personal income.
  • We are aware that staff here sometimes house visiting colleagues and overseas students who may not have the budget to afford local hotel accommodation. These are more hidden expenses that staff pay.
  • And while we are making the list, we should probably add the cost of tissues for distressed students and staff as there seem to be more of the latter than in the past, perhaps as a result of the recent redundancies and reorganisations.

The money we spend on our work is often not made visible. We spend money to support our research, education and professional activity and seldom bother to add up what it costs to work at the University of Southampton. At a time when the employers are offering a pay settlement that is below inflation, and are still threatening our deferred salary (pension) this subsidising of the University starts to rankle. Our current VC receives £423,000 a year and we suspect he, along with other senior managers, has no idea how you are subsidising the work of the University from your wages. UCU will  continue to push senior management to start valuing our staff and properly reward them for the work they do.

We are currently balloting members on pay and equality. The value of your wages has been steadily eroded by inflation. As we have shown above many staff are paying considerable sums to subside University work. UCU has asked for a 7.5% uplift on salaries and for more substantial effort to address job insecurity, the gender pay gap and excessive workloads. We need to get 50% turn out in this ballot if we want to take action to get a better deal. So please VOTE NOW AND VOTE YES to strike action and yes to action short of a strike.

 

This blog was edited 1/10/18 to correct phrasing about VC salary package which is £433,000.

 

Vote YES for a fair pay deal

Earlier this year UCU members were asked what they wanted to do about the derisory pay offer made by our employers. Responses from UCU members here more than cleared the 50% bar demanded by TU legislation – you said, overwhelmingly, that you want to take action on pay.

The Pay and Equality ballot closes Friday 19th October at 12 noon. 

Senior managers have ‘implemented’ a 2% pay increase – but do not be fooled by this. The value of your wages has been going down. The last above-inflation pay rise was in 2014. UCU have asked for a pay increase of 7.5% or £1,500, whichever is greater.

We note that the VC’s pay was a whopping £433,000 (including pension) in 2016/17. Sir Christopher is paid more than double the head of our local hospital, although the hospital budget is larger than that of the university, and they have more staff. We note also that in 2007, the then VC, Bill Wakeham was paid ‘just’ £242,000 (including pension) so Sir Christopher’s pay represents an increase of 79% over 10 years. It is time that University senior managers showed front line staff that they are valued too.

UCU also want a nationally-agreed framework for action to close the gender pay gap by 2020. The most recent gender pay return for University of Southampton shows a mean gender pay gap of 20.2%. Women here are paid, on average, 20% less than men. Women continue to be under-represented at the highest levels of the pay scale and little effective action has been taken to address this inequality.

The 2018 pay claim asks for a nationally-agreed framework for action on precarious contracts. We have a small army of staff employed on fixed term and hourly-paid contracts. This ‘disposable’ labour force deserves a better deal.

Finally our UCU negotiators have pointed out that increases in workload and excessive hours also contribute to the decline in pay of University staff. We have had a year of more cuts to staff and yet no decline in the work to be done. The work of all the people who have left and the vacant posts deliberately left unfilled has been redistributed. During the strike at the beginning of the year people kept saying how good it was to ‘go home on time’ and to spend weekends with family and friends. Staff here routinely take work home after their working day is over. Most work more than their contracted hours. Many of us are bombarded with work emails at all times of the day and night. We have put up with almost constant restructuring, moving from 3 to 8 to 5 Faculties, facing the cuts associated with “INEX”, “Hartley” and “Wellington” projects. We have delivered more and more for this University and yet we are not recompensed. Our pay claim asks for a payment to recognise these excessive workloads. 

There is still time to avoid a dispute this year. Sir Christopher, as a key voice in Universities UK,  could represent us and use his excellent contacts to press for a better deal for University staff.

In the coming weeks we will be working to “Get the Vote Out” and will be visiting workplaces to encourage members to vote and asking non-members to join UCU. If you can help – please contact Amanda (ucu@soton.ac.uk).

You should receive your ballot papers over the next few days. We must achieve a turnout of at least 50% to take lawful industrial action so your vote is vital.

You can read the union’s full claim here and click here for further information and the latest in the campaign.

Please Vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of a strike (ASOS).

 

*this blog was updated on 6/9/18 to add details about hospital chief, and previous VC pay (thanks to our member for reminding us of these comparisons). We also added the date that the ballot closes.

Successful strike action at Southampton

On Wednesday and Thursday this week we had a strike and a picket line at the Highfield and Avenue campuses. We are very grateful for the members who showed up to support this current set of issues we are disputing. We are also very grateful for the members of the public, crucial to support, who came and asked questions and took pamphlets.

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The picket lines are not only a great way to show support for number of issues that you might find important, they also allow for greater sense of communication and community within the union that is crucial to its continued ability to help its members. In truth, the idea of the union is based on strength in numbers and even if some people have different opinions and ideas, they are more than welcome to come and share them among the union and that only makes it stronger.  We chatted to many people – students, staff and the public – who in the main were supportive of the action.  It is a shame that a very small minority of non-union colleagues were not quite so polite in their engagement with us.

Support for the action was mirrored across the country – check out some of the action here.

We thought you’d be interested to learn why members at Southampton support the strike:

“After 10 years of being on casualised contracts, I’ve had enough”

“I believe that collective action is the best way to protect all of our working conditions”

“To make sure pay is in line with inflation”

“To explore in closer detail whether the national gender pay gap is reflected in this university”

“To end the complete disparity in pay between the workforce and the senior executives”

You can continue to show your support for the industrial action by working to contract.  As staff at the University at L4+ have no set hours we are asking that you work no more than 37 hours a week – check out our FAQs  from para 21.

We hope that our action will force the employers to return to the negotiating table.  If not, UCU will begin preparations for strike action on 18 August, the day when A Level results are released in England, as well as a setting and marking boycott to commence at an agreed point during the autumn term.

Many thanks again for all your support.

 

Strike Action – 25 and 26 May

Strike action commences 25 May and takes the form of a two day strike (25 and 26 May) with working to contract commencing 25 May.  We would ask all members to support the action in the following ways:

 Withdraw your labour for 25 and 26 May

Attend the picket line on Wednesday 25 May at Highfield campus – meet at the UCU office from 7.45am.  You are welcome to join the picket later if necessary.

Attend the picket line on Thursday 26 May at Avenue campus – meet at the entrance to the car park from 7.45am.  Join later if necessary.

Set your email to Out of Office with the following message:

“I’m sorry but I am currently unable to respond to emails as I am partaking in strike action.  Please contact me again after 26 May”

Inform your students of the action and the reasons behind it by passing on this leaflet

Join the rally of UCU members at 1pm at Guildhall Square, Southampton on Wednesday 25 May.

 A reminder that you do not have to inform management in advance that you will be taking strike action.  We are also asking members to work to contract from 25 May.  As staff at L4+ at University of Southampton have no set hours, we are asking that you work no more than 37 hours/week.  Details of Working to Contract and other FAQs can be found on the UCU website.  

Many thanks for your support. 

 

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