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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.

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.

`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

 

We need you to help Build the Union at Southampton

We are looking for active members to build the UCU branch at Southampton University. There are a variety of ways that members can get involved.

A branch representative

The main role of the branch or departmental representatives is to sustain the branch. This can be broken down into five main areas:

  • Recruiting – attending induction events, identifying non-members
  • Organising – talking and listening to members’ and non-members’ views to find out their problems and concerns; identifying areas of low membership density; encouraging members to get involved; distributing leaflets and newsletters; involvement with branch strategy.
  • Representing members – either collectively or individual members. This involves keeping up to date with procedures, agreements, policies and contractual conditions at your workplace; representing members at formal meetings with management; taking up collective issues with management.
  • Campaigning – on local, regional or national issues of importance to UCU, such as workload, stress, equality issues.
  • Other tasks – such as keeping records of meetings with the branch or members; attending meetings with other unions in your workplace.

A local/workplace contact

A contact is someone who is willing to take on a range of smaller tasks that help raise the profile of the branch among your immediate colleagues and who ensures that members in your work area feel that the union is present, relevant and listens to them. Some tasks associated with this role are to:

  • Distribute union literature on behalf of your branch or the national union to department or work area colleagues.
  • Act as a point of liaison between members in your immediate work area and the branch.
  • Distribute union messages to non-members

A local caseworker

When members are facing problems at work, they can expect the help of local caseworkers to discuss their concerns with, and to accompany them to formal meetings if necessary. As a local caseworker, you would:

  • Listen to members’ concerns and identify what outcome they are seeking.
  • Provide one to one support for individual members facing workplace issues.
  • Accompany members to meetings with managers to try and resolve issues informally.
  • Accompany members to formal hearings such as disciplinary, capability or grievance.

We understand that you may not feel you have the time to devote to one of these roles, but without local reps, contacts and caseworkers the branch would have a lot less influence at work. Research shows that union members in the UK receive higher pay and better terms and conditions than non-members. It is the power and influence of the union that comes from working collectively and the more people the branch/LA represents and the more unified they are, the more authority and bargaining power we have. So please do think about how you can get involved to Build the Union.

Please contact the local branch to discuss how you can help. Call Amanda on x 22364 or email ucu@soton.ac.uk

Academic Related Professional Service staff news

We are delighted that local officer Mark Dover has joined UCU’s national committee for ARPS staff.  Mark will be attending meetings with colleagues from across the country developing policy and strategies for supporting and improving the working rights of ARPS staff.  If you have anything that you would like Mark to address please let us know.

The latest version of the ARPS newsletter has just been published.

https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/7412/…and-related-winter-15/pdf/ucu_andrelated_arpsnews_winter15.pdf

Mark has written an excellent piece about the PWC review – you should read it!

We are looking to develop our network of Academic Related Professional Service staff at the University and ask that you consider being a part of this.  With the arrival of the new VC and the outcome of the PWC review due shortly, we envisage their to be some changes that may affect staff, particularly in this group.  Please get in touch with Amanda at the local office (ucu@soton.ac.uk) to offer your help.  Even if you can only offer a limited amount of time, that would be great – every little helps!

 

 

 

 

 

Carbuncle Cup

City GatewayOur City Gateway hall of residence has narrowly missed out on a national award. It was short-listed for the Carbuncle Cup, but was beaten in the final by London’s walkie talkie. The walkie talkie has melted cars; we simply could not compete.

Our tower, which has locally acquired the name “fag butt”, was particularly commended for being placed tight against the adjacent building; some students get a view of a blank wall. It also attracted attention last year when the university chose to enforce a contractual clause allowing it be left empty until now.

I guess the fag butt is a commemoration of the old British American Tobacco factory on the other side of town. Long ago, Rose alarmed fellow activists by describing the BAT plant as “Southampton’s ugliest building”. We’re now free to use the moniker on City Gateway: it has a national short-listing to prove it.

Back on campus, our Mountbatten Building actually won a RIBA award in 2009; unfortunately your UCU health and safety representatives are still having to work hard to bring the cost-engineered plumbing into a safe and usable condition.

Denis Nicole

Flexible retirement: get it while you still can

I wrote about flexible retirement a while back. Several of us have been able to take an 80% flex, and collect our USS pension, without difficulty over the past couple of years. It seems that now, however, management attitudes are starting to harden. We have heard rumours that Welsh universities have been denying flexible retirement; now we have an example of Southampton making it more difficult than it should be. Guidelines have been circulated in FPSE that

FEG would expect staff with no research funding to retain teaching commitment

In other words, however much you retire, you will still be doing a full FTE of teaching. I think that is unreasonable. And surely it is research quality, not funding, that should drive decisions? The guidance also carries the unsavoury implication that teaching is an activity which colleagues have to be pressured into doing; how will that benefit students or deliver better NSS scores?

If you are thinking about flexing, it would a be good idea get in touch with the union before starting negotiations.

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† I love this term. It seems that, whenever the university wants to create policies without bothering to negotiate with the recognised trade unions, they call them “guidelines”.

Denis Nicole

Update on university action against a union representative

As our Southampton members will know, the university recently initiated disciplinary action against a union representative over the way he supported members during a disciplinary enquiry. All three campus unions were deeply concerned; our caseworkers are trained and accredited by their unions and, if there are any issues about their performance, the appropriate behaviour by the university would be to approach a full-time official of the union. In the last resort, the union can withdraw a caseworker’s accreditation. We know the university understands this; not long ago the Chief Operating Officer wrote to union officials querying the conduct of union health and safety representatives. On that occasion, the representatives were promptly vindicated when the system whose safety they had been querying failed spectacularly—think of an indoor version of the Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth.

This casework is a trade union duty protected in law; our caseworkers are entitled to time off with pay while dealing with matters of discipline. Our understanding is that, during this time off, the caseworker should be answerable to their union, not to the employer. We put this to the university in an “Emergency Joint-Joint Negotiating Committee” meeting on 28th July, but the meeting was adjourned without agreement.

I am now able to report some moderately good news. The accused representative has been told that there is no case to answer. They have not, however, been told anything about the accusation; they don’t know its content, who made it, or whether, with no case to answer, the complaint has been judged vexatious. We have been given no assurances that such unjustified complaints will not again be used to harass our representatives in the future.

Our trained representatives are a very precious resource; almost all of our successes in resolving the problems of members depend on their skill and their willingness to give time to support their colleagues. We cannot allow inappropriate accusations by the employer to discourage them from coming forward, nor can we allow a chilling atmosphere of fear to discourage them from pursuing their role tenaciously.

We are thus continuing to press the university to give decent guarantees of protection to our volunteers through a formal undertaking that an incident of this sort will not happen again. We will let you know what happens when the EJJNC reconvenes.

University of Southampton refuses requests for information on V-C pay and perks

Colleagues may be interested to read this press release that was issued by UCU on 4 March 2015

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The University of Southampton has refused to answer basic questions about its vice-chancellor’s pay and perks, according to a new report released today (Wednesday).

The University and College Union (UCU) issued a series of FOI requests in order to try and learn more about the shadowy world of senior pay and perks in UK universities. The union contacted 155 institutions and the University of Southampton was one of only seven that didn’t respond*.

However, the university’s accounts show that Professor Don Nutbeam was the 23rd most highly paid UK university vice-chancellor in 2013/14. He received £320,000, which put him comfortably above the average vice-chancellor’s pay of £260,290.

The union’s report detailed university bosses spending up to £60,000 a year on luxury air fares and heads of institutions racking up hefty hotel bills and annual expenses. But no expenditure figures were received from the University of Southampton.

In an attempt to obtain more details of the rationale for senior salaries, UCU also requested a copy of the most recently ratified minutes of the remuneration committee – the committee tasked with determining the pay of the vice-chancellor. The University of Southampton also failed to provide a copy of its remuneration committee minutes.

UCU regional official, Moray McAulay, said: ‘The University of Southampton is one of only a few universities in the UK that did not provide any of the information we requested making it one of our most secretive. You do have to wonder what it is they want to hide.

‘Overall, it’s a chaotic state of affairs where some institutions are open and honest while others use whatever means they can to avoid revealing information of spending at the top. We need a national system that will bring in obligations for higher education institutions to be transparent about their spending.’ 

ends

 Local contact:

Moray McAulay m: 07766 251 863; e: mmcaulay@ucu.org.uk

National UCU contact:

Vicky Wilks t: 020 7756 2601; m: 07977 562 686; e: vwilks@ucu.org.uk 

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