LUCU News: January 2019

LUCU News: January 2019

In this month’s newsletter we give you advance notice of our next General Meeting and Annual General Meeting, update you on our latest negotiations with the University, invite you to consider becoming our LUCU pensions lead, let you know about the Education Support Partnership and remind you about UCU-supported Stand up to Racism events.

General Meeting and AGM Dates

Our first General Meeting of the academic year was held recently, and we want to give even more of you an opportunity to attend our second General Meeting and, later in the year, our AGM, by getting the dates out to you early:

Spring General Meeting:

Wednesday 27th March from 4pm-5pm in Room SCH001 in the Schofield Building.
Guest Speaker: Vicky Knight, UCU President.
Followed by branch social at the Swan In The Rushes.

Annual General Meeting:

Wednesday 5th June from 4pm-5pm in Room J002 in the Edward Herbert Building.
Followed by a branch social barbeque outside the branch office on campus.

Our Negotiations with the University

People Strategy

We have recently been working closely with HR Director Adèle MacKinlay on the development of the University’s new People Strategy, to put forward our priorities such as workload sustainability, work-home balance, support for international staff and ensuring that senior managers set a positive and collegiate tone. We’re grateful to Adèle for her constructive engagement.

Student Complaints

Some members have reported an anomalous spike in complaints from students. For example, questioning the content of an exam or piece of coursework – even before the results are known. Members are concerned that many of these are groundless and reflect a worrying trend which threatens to degrade academic rigour. If you have observed the same, please contact ucu@lboro.ac.uk with anonymised examples.

TurnItIn

We are concerned about whether sufficient training and guidance is given to staff on how to properly interpret similarity scores generated by TurnItIn, and to translate these into student feedback. For instance, where poor citation crosses into academic misconduct. Getting these calls wrong can lead to complaints from students and parents. Let us know your thoughts on whether more help is needed at ucu@lboro.ac.uk

Pensions Lead Training

UCU are encouraging all branches to have a named Pensions Lead. With the ongoing dispute over USS there has never been a more important time to have someone focussed on this topic.  The pension lead could become a committee member or could be involved only when pensions are being discussed. UCU are running training for this role. The courses are 5-6 March 2019 at the head office in London and 3-4 July 2019 at the regional office in Birmingham.

Please get in touch at ucu@lboro.ac.uk if you are able to fill this vital role.

Educational Support Partnership

The Educational Support Partnership is a charity providing mental health and wellbeing support services to all education staff and organisations.

Stress and anxiety levels across the sector are reaching alarming levels and calls to their helpline are increasing year on year.  For education staff they provide two main services; a free and confidential helpline and grants to cover short-term financial issues or training costs.

There are many stresses on those who work in education – a challenging student, stress & depression, personal financial worries and so many more. That’s why they offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what the problem. Their trained counsellors listen without judgement. No issue is too big or too small. The free and confidential helpline is available 24/7 to everyone working in education and is available UK wide on 08000 562 561.

Their grants service helps working in or retired education staff experiencing short-term financial issues. Use their online form to apply for a grant. They can also support with training costs if you’re wishing to change career or re-join the education sector.

UCU-Supported Stand up to Racism Events

UCU is affiliated to Stand up to Racism nationally and we as a branch committee support their work. If members are interested in getting involved please consider attending one or more of these events:

“Decolonisation: Confronting racism on campus” This conference will bring together students, staff and education workers to discuss how we can decolonise our campuses and make them free from racism. Saturday 16 February 2019: 10:30am – 5pm, NEU, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD.

“Stand Up To Racism Trade Union Conference” A day for trade unionists to discuss, debate and organise challenging the far right in our communities and to oppose institutional racism in the workplace. Saturday 23 February 2019: 10am – 4:30pm, NEU, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD.

UN Anti-Racism Day, this event is to demonstrate confidence in our values of respect and equality for all.  It will demonstrate our solidarity in action against the politics of hate, against bigotry, racism and discrimination of all kinds, and against the politics of fascism. Saturday 16 March 2019, Central London, Glasgow, Cardiff.

For more information on any of the above events please get in touch with the branch office at ucu@lboro.ac.uk

Our Reps Working for You

We are here for you, if you have any issues you wish to discuss with a case worker, please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk or call the branch office on 228299.

Please continue to contact us with your suggestions for future newsletter items. The Committee’s contact details can be found here; we hope you will also follow us on both Facebook and Twitter.

LUCU Committee, 5th February 2019.

LUCU News: August 2018

LUCU News: August 2018

In this month’s newsletter, we report on the work that our committee members and departmental reps do for your benefit, collectively in our negotiations with the university and individually in our case work. Also, there are opportunities to get involved in the local branch with a vacancy for an Equality Officer and in the wider trade union movement as we give details of UCU-run training courses, Leicester Pride and announce our affiliation to Leicester and District Trades Union Council. There is a reminder of the upcoming ballot on pay and finally, we pay tribute to Memis Acar, a branch committee member for many years, who has recently died.

Our LUCU Negotiators report back

At the last joint negotiating meeting with management, the Unions raised a number of issues, including this year’s PDR round, immigration support and mental health and wellbeing.  We will be feeding into a review of the PDR process so please note the email we sent on this topic offering you an opportunity to provide feedback about your experience.  Meanwhile with Brexit still meaning “Brexit” and much else being left to be decided, our valued international colleagues continue to be concerned about their status in the UK.  While the University has for several limited periods offered welcome financial help to those wishing to become naturalised, we have been working with the International Staff Group to urge the University to produce long term, consistent support.

Mental health is an ongoing concern, exacerbated by increased workloads and performance pressure.  At our recent meeting, the Health and Safety Executive noted that stress and workload have already been flagged to them as serious issues at the university and that they were disappointed to find that this is still the case.  While we recognise these problems are by no means unique to Loughborough, we must maintain a focus on ensuring that demands made upon staff are realistic and sustainable and that support mechanisms are sufficient.

The past year has also seen an unprecedented number of restructures and organisational reviews within schools and services which has tested the support capacity of all the campus unions to the limit.  The conduct of these processes has varied considerably, and we are working with HR colleagues to establish better guidance and operating principles for future changes, including early involvement of the unions.  Given the threat of industrial action over planned redundancies at the University of Leicester, we are pleased that Loughborough’s management seem committed to a less savage approach to cost saving, but more must be done to ensure that changes are implemented competently, at a manageable pace, and that the results are sustainable.

It is also important to recognise that while tuition fees have not risen with inflation, the University’s operating surplus grew from just over £1m in 2015 to £19.8m in 2017.

Our Reps working for you

Occasionally members experience difficulties due to structural changes, conflicts with colleagues, health problems and other issues. Your local UCU committee supports people in such situations by assigning volunteer case workers. A personal case worker meets with a member, represents them in formal meetings, assists with administration and paperwork, and provides advice as to how best to handle a tricky and often distressing situation. At present over 20 members of staff across the University are receiving support on issues ranging from reducing unwieldy administrative burdens through to defending members under threat of redundancy. If you have any issues you wish to discuss with a case worker, please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk or call the branch office on 228299.

Want to get more involved?

Loughborough University UCU would like to thank our previous Equality Officer, Eugenie Hunsicker, for her hard work and dedication, as she has now stepped down from the role. This means we have a vacancy on the 2018/19 LUCU committee for an Equality Officer. If you are interested in taking on the role, please get in touch with the branch administrator or any of the LUCU officers who can help you decide if it’s the role for you. For some general information on the role please see the UCU Website and in particular the document at the bottom of the page called “Organising for equality – the role of the equality officer”.

Looking to learn?

As with most trade unions LUCU encourage our members to improve their education about what trade unions are and how they operate. Whether you are an existing UCU activist or you are considering taking on a more active role within this UCU branch there is a training course for you.

For information on free training courses provided by UCU please see here.

For a list of courses in the region and dates, please see here.

All our committee members and departmental reps are eligible for time off for training under the Trade Union Act; other members may be eligible on a case by case basis. Get in touch with our Branch Administrator by emailing ucu@lboro.ac.uk if you want to find out more.

Leicester Pride

Leicester Pride 2018 takes place on Saturday 1st September at Victoria Park. We encourage our members to attend. If a group of members are planning on going and would like to take the branch banner for the march, please get in touch. For more details see the website for Leicester Pride.

Our involvement in the Trade Union movement

Loughborough University UCU has this month affiliated to Leicester and District Trades Union Council. The L&D TUC is made up of branches from many different unions in Leicestershire. This affiliation gives us more influence to shape the trade union movement locally, more opportunity to show our solidarity with other union branches in their fights, more support and resources to call upon when we need to fight. We have already appointed two delegates to the L&D TUC from the LUCU committee and we have two more delegate places to fill. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact the LUCU branch administrator.

All meetings of L&D TUC take place in the City Hall, Charles Street, Leicester. The full Council meetings are held monthly on the 3rd Thursday of each month except December and commence at 7pm. In December a joint Council/EC meeting is held on the 1st Tuesday commencing 7pm.  You can also see some information about L&D TUC’s history and purpose on the Leicester NUT website.

2018 Pay Ballot

Please look out for your postal ballot arriving from the 30th August and make sure you complete it and post back in time for the ballot closing on 19th October. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Officers of the branch or click this link to read more. We will be starting our Get The Vote Out campaign the week after next so look out for more information on the pay ballot and expect a call from the committee.

Memis Acar

Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Memis Acar, a vivid presence in the life of the union on campus over several decades. He will be remembered by his colleagues in the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering (where he was Professor of Mechanics) as a distinguished researcher and teacher, whose work in fields such as the modelling of car interior design so as to reduce injury in the case of accidents had significant public benefits.

We particularly remember him here, however, as an active participant in Loughborough UCU. Memis was a member of the branch committee for many years, retaining his staunch commitment to the union even as he came to occupy senior management roles in his School, culminating in his time as Associate Dean for Teaching (2011-15). David Kerr, our recently retired Vice-President and Negotiating Secretary, and a School as well as union colleague of Memis, recalls that ‘In Wolfson he was quick to defend colleagues in difficulties whenever he could. He was very passionate about fair treatment for everyone.’

Memis was also supportive of members’ interests during the periods he spent on both Council and Senate. Here, too, as David remembers, he was ‘fearlessly vocal’, unafraid of ruffling ‘quite a few feathers’. As a stalwart of the branch, someone who passionately believed in the civilising mission of the union on campus, Memis will be greatly missed. We extend our condolences to his family and friends.

To be continued

Our next newsletter is scheduled to appear in the latter half of September. In the meantime, continue to contact us with your views and suggestions about LUCU activities on campus. The Committee’s contact details can be found here; we hope you will also follow us on bothFacebook and Twitter.

LUCU Committee, 24th August 2018

Anti-Trump and Stand Up to Racism Events

Anti-Trump and Stand Up to Racism Events

There are two political protest events coming up which have wide support from the Trades Union movement including UCU.

The first is on Friday the 13th of July to oppose Donald Trump’s visit.

The second is to oppose racist and fascist groups, with a focus on Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, a former leader of the EDL with links to other vile organisations such as Pegida and the so-called “Football Lads Alliance”. A man even Piers Morgan has condemned as a “a bigoted lunatic”. Since his imprisonment in May “Free Tommy Robinson” has become a rallying cry of the far right.

The Anti-Trump Protest is on Friday 13 July 2pm Portland Place, London W1A 1AA followed by a rally at 5pm in Trafalgar Square. Please be there to show Trump he is not welcome and that we in the UK trade union movement oppose his divisive and racist policies.

There are coaches available from Nottingham, and Derby and further information at the Stop Trump website.

The Stand Up to Racism ‘Oppose the Nazis and Tommy Robinson’ event is on Saturday 14 July 2pm Whitehall, London SW1A. It is vital we mobilise against the pernicious ideology peddled by Tommy Robinson and his friends in the so-called Football Lads Alliance.

Further details on the Stand Up To Racism Facebook page.