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UCU advice and support related to appraisal process

All staff should have completed an appraisal by 31st May unless on probation.

UCU understands that appraisal scores for staff at levels 4-6 will be moderated at an Academic Unit/Directorate level followed by ratification of these scores at Faculty/Executive Directorate level.

The University previously agreed with UCU that only scores of 4/5 would be subject to moderation.  (See https://intranet.soton.ac.uk/sites/hr/appraisal/SitePages/Home.aspx).  This assurance about the limited scope of moderation was key to the University of Southampton appraisal system being agreed by national UCU.  This feature was highlighted to our members when we balloted them about the Pay and Reward arrangements.  These arrangements, including the appraisal scheme, were endorsed by 94.5% of UCU members at University of Southampton in September 2014.

We are aware that scores of 1-3 are also being moderated. UCU has not been consulted about this extended moderation process or Terms of Reference, and we have raised this with senior management, along with our other broader concerns about how appraisal has been conducted this year.  It appears that University of Southampton could be breaching the collective agreement with UCU on pay and reward, which includes arrangements for appraisal.

We are aware that some UCU members have been given a provisional appraisal score and have been required to attend a meeting with HR and Line Management, before appraisal scores have been moderated or ratified. If you are asked to attend such a meeting, please contact UCU for support. We advise you to request to be accompanied by a colleague or UCU representative into this meeting. You are entitled to ask the reason(s) for a meeting request and who will be present.

If you are asked to attend a ‘protected conversation/meeting’ you may be informed of capability, disciplinary or asked to consider leaving your job.  We advise you to request to be accompanied by a colleague or UCU caseworker into such a meeting and you are entitled to ask the reason(s) for the meeting and who will be present. You do not have to agree to settlement offers made to you in a protected conversation/meeting and we advise members to carefully consider any offers before responding.

University of Southampton has a Dignity at Work Policy statement which begins by stating, “The University of Southampton is committed to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity in all of its practices and activities. We aim to establish an inclusive culture, free from discrimination and based on the values of dignity, courtesy and respect. We recognise the right of every person to be treated in accordance with these values.”  We also note that the appraisal scheme approved by UCU members includes a commitment that “All appraisals should be carried out in a fair and equitable way, with due consideration paid to an individual in relation to the process and outcomes of appraisal.”  We are concerned that the practice of appraisal moderation outside of agreed processes, and the use of moderated scores to coerce staff into asking staff to consider leaving their job, appears to breach the commitments made by University of Southampton in these policies.

UCU is currently working with a number of members on issues related to appraisal. If you have concerns or comments regarding the appraisal process please contact us – you can do this via ucu@soton.ac.uk. (If you would prefer not to use university email please telephone the office on 023 8059 2364 and Amanda can provide alternative contact details.)

 

National Senior Management survey for UK University staff

The National Senior Management Survey (SMS) is an anonymous survey for university staff around the UK to complete about the practices of their senior management team. The survey is a form of audit that seeks to move the gaze from the narrow metrics of staff performance to the senior management teams who set the conditions through which staff performance becomes possible. The results will be disseminated as widely as possible and a league table of findings will be produced. In so doing it seeks to ask questions of the current trajectory of higher education in the UK and to broaden debate about what universities should and could be for our students.

You can complete the survey here:  https://smsproject.wordpress.com/

Preliminary findings were reported in the THE recently: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/overpaid-and-overbearing-uk-university-staff-management

Claim Tax Relief on UCU subscriptions

You might be interested to know that due to UCU’s status as a professional organisation, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) gave approval for members to claim up to 67% tax relief on the total annual subscription they have paid to UCU during the last four years, and on an annual basis thereafter.  Further guidance can be found at:  https://www.ucu.org.uk/taxrelief .  Please complete this template tax relief claim form ucu_taxclaimform_Apr16  and return it to the tax office on completion.  The University’s tax office details are:

West Hampshire Area HM Revenue & Customs
Trinity Bridge House
2 Dearmans Place
Salford 
M3 5BS 

The tax office reference number is 663/U1.  

If you need further information please contact the UCU office.

 

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

 

1 Day Without Us – 20/2/17

Southampton UCU is proud to support 1 Day Without Us, a National Day of Action on 20th Feb 2017 to celebrate the contribution of migrants to the UK, to coincide with UN World Day of Social Justice.

 

We have an infostand as part of the University’s Diversity Showcase Day on 20th February in Garden Court.  Come and chat to us, join in a bit of fun, and share your stories with us.

We would also ask all supporters to take photos and post them on social media using the hashtag #1DayWithoutUs. We also invite you to take selfies individually and  post them with your personal messages of support using the hashtag.

More details here: http://www.1daywithoutus.org/

Find out more about UCU’s campaign to defend the rights of EU nationals and how you can become involved. https://www.ucu.org.uk/we-are-international

Southampton UCU is holding an open meeting at 12.30pm on Wednesday 1 March in room 6/1083 (Nuffield) to discuss the impact of Brexit on our international staff and students.  We would be interested to hear your views and concerns so please do come and join us – ALL WELCOME.

UCU Elections – PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE

You should by now have received papers for the current UCU elections for the post of General Secretary and members of the National Executive Committee.   Your local UCU executive committee think it is important that you vote in these elections.  UCU is active on your behalf right through the year not only in representing individual members with problems of one sort or another, but also in the formulation of the policy of the university in its role as an employer. So we are a participatory organisation, not a contracting organisation acting on your behalf for a fee. Part of that participation will be in voting in UCU elections, for posts which contribute to the setting of policy at a national level.

We have had a number of enquiries at Union House from members as to how to vote in these elections. There is a long list of candidates and it is always difficult to know which candidates to support.

1) Southampton UCU President, Dr Denis Nicole, is a candidate as Southern HE representative on the National Executive Committee, and is the only Southern HE candidate supported by resolution of a quorate branch general meeting (rather than the signatures of ten UCU members). He is fully supported by the branch as a result. For those who don’t know him personally, Denis is a Reader in Computer Science with a special interest in cybersecurity. Denis has worked hard as local president over the last year, and before that as vice-president. He will continue to represent us all at NEC if elected, and will put members first before partisan politics. (Indeed, those of you know Denis will know that it would be impossible to bind him!)

2) The post of General Secretary is up for election, as are other Officer posts and Trustees. Whereas members of the National Executive are unpaid lay members, the General Secretary is the full-time leader and an employee of UCU.  The current General Secretary is Sally Hunt; she is a candidate for re-election, and has reiterated her Independent status. The other candidate is Jo McNeill of the University of Liverpool. Whilst a committed Trade Unionist, and known personally to some of the Committee, Jo is endorsed by “UCU Left”.  UCU Left has been described as a Union within a Union and had its formation within the Socialist Worker Party. UCU Left candidates by association are not independent candidates.  Most of your Executive Committee will be supporting the re-election of Sally Hunt, some very strongly so.

3) Given that independent polls suggest that university lecturers are in general somewhat centrist in outlook (if strongly anti-Brexit), it may be somewhat of a surprise to see two diametrically opposed slates of candidates, or the political affiliations associated with them. (Apparently, nobody in UCU is “right”, unless they be a “right idiot”). The consequence of “UCU Left” success in NEC and Officer Elections will be a UCU that will not be independent. It will still serve its members, but will also be steered by a political agenda and objectives tied to Socialist Worker Party aims. The consequence of Independent, or Independent Broad Left candidates in NEC, Officer or Trustee roles will be a union that will serve its members, without one political agenda dictating the course and objectives of that service.

All candidates are required to make clear their political affiliations, so read their statements and make an informed choice.

Above all participate, it’s your Union so use your vote. The ballot runs until 12pm on 1 March.

If you have not received a ballot paper, please contact Kay Metcalfe (kmetcalfe@ucu.org.uk.) at UCU HQ.

A link to the website containing the election statements is here. https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/7228/UCU-elections-2017

Southampton UCU Committee

 

It couldn’t happen at a university?

Apart from the UCU web site, we have a number of valuable sources of information. Wonkhe is building a considerable reputation, and of course many of us buy the Times Higher Education Supplement. For wider employment issues, there are the Labour Research Department publications, and the Hazards Campaign on health and safety; this has strong involvement from our old friend Jon Bamford.

Among the press, we have worryingly few friends. I read the Guardian most days, but recently the news is sometimes so bad that I can only face the Sudoku. By far my best source of news is my subscription to Ian Hislop’s Private Eye. They do some really good Christmas cards too; unfortunately, you are now too late to either buy or post them.

As Ian almost never wins in court, I feel safe in attaching a tiny sample from last week’s edition. It couldn’t happen in a university, could it?

Denis A Nicole
Southampton University UCU Branch President

Festive drinks with officers from your local branch – 14 December

 

Local UCU officers would like to invite you for end of year drinks at The Bookshop Alehouse on Wednesday 14th December from 17.30, Christmas jumpers optional but welcomed.  It would be great to see you there. 

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186299-d10202897-Reviews-The_Bookshop_Alehouse-Southampton_Hampshire_England.html

 

 

 

UCU caseworker training

Southampton UCU is currently looking for more members to become caseworkers to support fellow members when facing problems in the workplace.  This year so far our local group of volunteer caseworkers has supported over 70 members on matters ranging from formal procedures (such as disciplinary and capability) to providing advice on probation, contractual concerns and bullying.  This small group has done a fantastic job but we need more resources to be able to provide such support. 

We have arranged a one-day Introduction to Casework training course in Southampton on Tuesday 10 January.  This one-day course will give a basic understanding of the role of the caseworker including how to support a member, the UCU legal scheme and knowledge of policies and procedures. 

We really do need to expand our caseworker resource so if you are interested in supporting fellow members then please consider registering for the course.  Further details can be found here:  http://www.ucu.org.uk/caseworksouthampton.   If you would like to chat about what the role entails then please email UCU or call Amanda on Ext 22364.