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October, 2012:

New issue of our newsletter — Collegiality

The link below will take you to a PDF copy of Southampton UCU’s newsletter, Collegiality.  You’ll find updates on our campaigns and useful info on how to get involved in our activities.

If you have suggestions for future issues, or have something you would like to contribute, please contact the UCU office!

Collegiality issue 3

Happy Birthday, Fixed Term Regulations 2002!

The 1st of October, 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of the Fixed Term Regulations 2002.  In celebration of these regulations which provide critical rights to staff on fixed-term contracts, Southampton UCU held a birthday party and set up an information stand to tell staff about how these regulations can protect their interests.

Fixed-term contract information stand

Our very own Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam stopped by the stand, and cut the cake for us.  He expressed support for the general plight of fixed-term staff at the University and noted that he himself is on a fixed-term contract.  Not to worry, Vice-Chancellor — we’ll be sure to get you the information and advice you need in order to ensure you’re treated properly!

Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam cuts the birthday cake

The Vice-Chancellor (center), together with Joe Viana our Fixed-Term Contract Representative (left), and Southampton UCU President Eric Silverman (right)

Thanks to all our members who helped out with the stand, and to those staff who came by to talk with us about their rights as fixed-term contract staff.  If you or any of your colleagues need some information or advice regarding these Regulations, be sure to get them in touch with our office.

For those who are interested, you can find the full text of the Regulations here.  DirectGov has an informative summary about the protections in place for fixed-term employees here.  Finally, we have prepared a page of useful information for managers of fixed-term staff (which is also useful for fixed-term employees themselves), which is available on this blog post.


Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President




Result of Higher Education Sector Conference, 13 September 2012

As some members may be aware, at UCU Congress this year a vote was taken to reinstate industrial action over USS pensions.  Predictably, the employers reacted badly to this and immediately pulled out of negotiations and removed what progress we’d made in those negotiations so far.

Given the response from members at Southampton and throughout the country, at a recent Higher Education Sector Conference a number of motions were presented to return to negotiations.  The details below are from our Executive Committee members who attend the conference on behalf of Southampton UCU:


Conference overwhelmingly rejected all motions and amendments to escalate action on the USS negotiation. Just as overwhelmingly, Conference accepted the motion to suspend action and resume negotiations.

Conference passed the following motion (Motion 2 (Composite)):


“Conference notes that our current USS negotiating objectives are contradictory, and have established preconditions that make it impossible to reach a negotiated settlement.


Conference re-affirms the HESC policy of May 2011 to:

   de-risk USS through the introduction of an acceptable CARE scheme for new entrants;

   close the gap between the value of the CARE and final salary sections by negotiating improvements to the CARE scheme which would secure broad comparability with TPS, including the removal of inflation caps; and

   protect the final salary pensions of existing members.


Conference believes that it is a priority to resume negotiations in order to achieve these objectives, and therefore authorise HEC to:

   suspend industrial action if the employers agree to negotiate on the above agenda within an acceptable time scale; and

   maintain this suspension while serious and constructive negotiations are taking place and an acceptable settlement might be reached by early 2013.”


After some debate, and only by a vote of 64 to 54, Conference also passed the following amendment to Motion 2 proposed by the Open University.


To add at the end of motion 2

 agrees that although the work-to-contract is no longer a useful lever in the USS dispute, many members feel individually protected by the action;

   instructs HEC to ensure that the suspension for this dispute is accompanied by members’ guidance on excessive working hours and relevant legislation;

 • notes that UCU will be launching a major campaign on workload in the autumn and that work-to-contract is a necessary sanction for disputes in that campaign.”


We at Southampton UCU are very pleased about this outcome.  Many members contacted us to express their concerns with restarting industrial action over USS, and thus we’re glad to see the Conference acted in the best interests of our members.

If any members have further questions about the outcome at the Conference, please feel free to contact us through the usual channels.


Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President