LUCU News: June 2021

LUCU News: June 2021

AGM Report

Matters of interest going forward that were reported on/discussed are as follows: ongoing negotiations with management have resulted in a formal review of the PDR process, promotions process, and Grievance process being initiated this year – these reviews will conclude at different points through 2021-22. A Charter to improve and protect the working terms and conditions of Casual Staff is in the final stages of negotiation following the work of the Anti-Casualisation Task and Finish Group, and we will report back when this has been adopted. 

Three motions were debated: 1) Rule Change Motion (Annual General Meeting) – passed; 2) Rule Change Motion (Rules for Local Motions) – withdrawn; 3) Local Subs Motion 2021 – passed. 

Local Subs Motion 2021

The majority of our local branch income pays for our excellent administrative support, without which the branch would not be able to achieve all it does.  Branch officers would spend much more time doing administrative tasks and would have far less time to spend negotiating with the University and supporting members through casework.  UCU staff are members of the USS pension scheme alongside us.

This motion had two aims:

  1. We needed to stem a current deficit in the branch finances and allow for expected staffing cost increases, especially due to USS;
  2. We hoped to move from a regressive flat-fee structure to a progressive tiered structure.

As a result of this motion passing, local subscription rates will move from a flat fee paid by all members (whose earnings vary enormously) to a tiered structure based on the pay bands used for your national UCU subscriptions.  This does mean a small increase for our highest earners but allows for a decrease for those earning less.  Our very lowest earners (under £5,000 per year), typically employed part time and often on precarious contracts, will no longer pay local subscriptions.  Previously they paid over three times more for their local subscription than their national subscription.

The changes are as follows:

TierNationalNew LocalCurrent totalNew totalChange
£60,000 & above (F0)£27.11£6.87£30.61£33.98+£3.37
£40,000 – £59,999 (F1)£23.94£4.58£27.44£28.52+£1.08
£30,000 – £39,999 (F2)£21.06£3.44£24.56£24.50-£0.06
£22,000 – £29,999 (F3)£17.96£2.52£21.46£20.48-£0.98
£15,000 – £21,999 (F4)£10.71£1.72£14.21£12.43-£1.78
£5,000 – £14,999 (F5)£4.67£0.57£8.17£5.24-£2.93
Below £5,000 (F6)£0.99£0.00£4.49£0.99-£3.50
Changes to contributions rates

77 of our lowest paid, often most precariously employed, members have their subscriptions reduced
84 pay roughly the same
319 pay just over £1 more
66 highest paid members pay £3.37 more – to use a now somewhat hackneyed phrase, “the price of a coffee”.

I’m grateful to all of the members who voted in favour of the progressive option which makes our subscription model much fairer.

David Wilson, Branch Treasurer

The composition of the LUCU Committee for 2021-22 was announced:

Chair – Mary Brewer

Negotiating Secretary – Marc Gibson

Casework Coordinator – Andrew Dix

Health and Safety Officer – Alec Edworthy

Equalities Officer – Sue Hignett

Pensions Rep – Matthew Inglis

Treasurer – David Wilson

Membership Secretary – Marie Hanlon

Ordinary member – Joanna Boehnert

EGM on Workload – Report

Our most recent EGM addressed how workload for next year is being managed across departments/schools.

There was some good news from members in SDCA, where SMT is taking a more progressive approach to workload, which involves open discussions at school meetings where staff (and our LUCU Reps) can raise the question of tariffs, un-costed work, EDI, and other issues of concern.  This effort at genuine consultation, transparency, and inclusion is welcome!  We are also pleased to report that the Dean of Loughborough London responded immediately and positively to working with us on workload and EDI related issues as part of the planning for next year’s workload. 

While these are hopeful developments, members in other schools reported limited or no consultation on workload, tariff reductions to make staff appear to be working within the 1598 agreed workload, tariffs that bear scant relation to the time needed for tasks, stress from overwork, a lack of transparency/fairness relevant to workload, and uncertainty regarding the appropriate consideration of EDI and workload. LUCU will be running a workload campaign in 2021-22, with the aim addressing the problems with workload that have been highlighted by members.

In response to issues raised by the Workload Task and Finish group (which is ongoing),  the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor is preparing a paper on the new workload model that will be presented at the next ARSNC, and we will report back to members about this in due course.  

If you would like a copy of the minutes from the AGM and/or EGM, please write to UCU@lboro.ac.uk.

Covid Update

LUCU continue to work closely alongside the other campus unions, HR, and Health and Safety to monitor the situation surrounding Covid-19.

Loughborough still has the highest student testing compliance rates in HE, and it is because of this that cases remain very low.  We have seen a slight increase in cases recently, reflecting the national situation, but with the prompt action from Connect and Protect the numbers are being kept low and full contact tracing is taking place (no links between the cases have been identified suggesting that they are community acquired rather than University related).  With the likelihood of further relaxation of the restrictions, we’re anticipating campus getting busier and more people returning to the office.  As and when this happens, we will work to ensure that our members’ working environments are managed safely and appropriately.

LUCU would like to remind our members that we must not get complacent – social distancing, face coverings (except where exempt), regular hand washing and plenty of ventilation are still essential.  If you feel comfortable, please do politely challenge others where you see these rules not being observed, or, if you prefer, please alert the relevant Health and Safety contact in your area so that they may ensure compliance with Covid safety rules. And please continue to let us know of any concerns you may have about health and safety in your area of work.

Alec Edworthy, Branch Health and Safety Officer

USS Pensions

We would like to remind members to use the UCU modeller that has been developed, which will show how your pension will be affected if the changes to USS advocated by UUK become a reality: UCU – UUK pension proposal modeller.

The modeller may be used by non-members as well, so please share widely with colleagues.

LUCU Committee

Definition of Dynamic Working

Definition of Dynamic Working

We are sending this email as we have received requests from several members about the terms of “dynamic working” and for further information.

As you may be aware, the Dynamic Working group has been looking at what they have learned from the Pandemic in terms of hybrid ways of working, and what practices might be kept as we move forward from Covid-19 and lockdown. The University have run some targeted Drop-in sessions and would now like to gather additional feedback from other University staff.

If you would like to feedback on this topic please complete this form by the end of Wednesday 16th June.

Dynamic Working Project: Proposed Terms of Reference

Purpose

The dynamic working group will make recommendations around hybrid working that are rooted in a pragmatic desire to achieve:

  1. Operational effectiveness utilising the lessons learned around remote working following the pivot on-line
  2. A good colleague and student experience
  3. Preserving and enhancing the sense of community that defines the University’s culture
  4. Support for the overall University strategy

Aims

  • Explore jobs and tasks, employee preferences, projects and workflows and inclusion and fairness implications of dynamic work practices.
  • Identify options with respect to future working practices including variations in both location of work (place) and patterns of working (time).
  • Evaluate the potential impacts of different potential working practices on;
    • Productivity
    • University culture / community
    • Equality of opportunity
    • Space usage
    • Staff wellbeing
    • Sustainability
    • Student experience
  • Develop a framework of optimal future working practices that balances the considerations of the University and its employees for approval by University’s senior leadership team.
  • Identify the support needed to enable changes in working practices (e.g. Advice to staff on effective home working, IT infrastructure, Training for managers in relation to facilitating remote working etc.)
  • Benchmark our proposals against the approaches taken by our competitors to ensure that our offering is competitive.

Out of Scope

  • Developing the support mechanisms for proposed changes

Membership

NameRole/Representation
Andy DaintyDean ABCE – Chair
Adèle MackinlayDirector, HROD – Project sponsor
Amanda SilverwoodPlanning officer – Member
Steve WarrenOps Manager SDCA – Member
Deborah BowenSchool Registrar LUIL – Member
Antuala Anthi TakoReader SBE – Member
Cunjia LiuReader AACME – Member
Hannah BaldwinHead of Corporate Communications – Member
Sam MarshallSenior Assistant Registrar – Member
Martin ChanellHead of Programme Management Office, E&FM – Member
Clare SmithLaboratory Assistant SSEHS – Member
Steve HarrisChange Team – Secretary

Reporting

The Board will report, through the Chair and other Members, to the Change Portfolio Board and where appropriate to the University’s Senior Leadership team.

We hope the above information helps clarify things.

LUCU Committee

Proposed changes to the USS pension scheme

Proposed changes to the USS pension scheme

A message from the Loughborough UCU Pensions Rep

Dear colleagues,

You may have already received this information from your UCU department rep, due to its importance we are sending again to all members. Please share this email with any non-members that also may not have received the message through department reps.

Proposed Changes to Your USS Pension

As you know, Universities UK (UUK) – the body which speaks on behalf of universities such as Loughborough – is currently consulting universities about changes to the USS pension scheme. Because these proposed changes are complex, it is not straightforward to understand from the headline proposals how they will affect you.

To help, UCU’s actuarial advisors, First Actuarial, have produced an online modeller which allows you to calculate how UUK’s proposals would affect your income in retirement. For example, the modeller reveals that I personally would have a £5068/year reduction to my income in retirement under these proposals.

If you have a USS pension you are welcome to use this tool, regardless of whether you are a member of UCU:

https://www.ucu.org.uk/ussmodeller

(Note: the modeller appears to work best when using Google Chrome.)

Loughborough UCU strongly encourages you to take this opportunity to understand the implications of the current proposals for you personally.

Background

UUK’s proposals are a result of USS’s 2020 valuation, which was published in March this year. Both UUK and UCU agree that this valuation is flawed. For example, UUK has described USS’s approach as “unreasonable”, “unrealistic”, “incredibly conservative” and “unjustifiable”. Unfortunately, UUK has not persuaded USS to change their valuation method, and instead is proposing to pass the cost onto scheme members in the form of reduced benefits. UCU believes that this is approach is not reasonable.

Best wishes

Matthew Inglis, LUCU Pensions Rep

Prison education members need our support

Prison education members need our support

UCU Novus members working in prison education have been on strike Tuesday 11 May, and Wednesday 12 May in a dispute over health and safety. This covers 49 prisons and young offenders’ institutions and is the first time a prison education branch has taken industrial action.

The row centres on the employer Novus’s failure to meaningfully engage with UCU over Covid health and safety concerns and on-site provision. Also, Novus has refused to drop complaints and investigations against staff who have raised safety concerns – unfounded allegations and without reference to any formal procedures and against natural justice. As these staff are UCU’s health and safety representatives, UCU believes it is impossible for the employer to meaningfully engage in health and safety discussions until this intimidation stops.

Please support your colleagues. If ever there was a time to stand up and support your union colleagues, now is the time. Due to members’ fear of reprisals, there will be limited social media use. However you can fill this gap by taking the following actions:

Your support will give the branch a real boost – please send your messages today. You can find out more about the background to the dispute here.

UCU, Unite and UNISON: Professional Services Workload Survey Results

UCU, Unite and UNISON: Professional Services Workload Survey Results

Please see below for the results summary for the UCU, Unite and UNISON Professional Services Workload Survey conducted in March.

We thank those of  you who took the time to complete the survey and assure you that the results will be extremely valuable in providing direction for the Professional Services Workload Task and Finish Group. To drill deeper into the workload issues raised in the survey, the Task and Finish Group will set up staff focus groups.  These groups will be open for all Professional Services staff to join (union members and non-members), and a communication will be sent out shortly to invite participation.

Unite, UNISON and UCU Professional Services Workload Survey – Results

Respondents are Professional Services staff who are union members (UNISON, Unite, UCU), 55% of whom worked from home.

In the year January 2020-Jaunary 2021, 81% of participants experienced an increase in their workload. Some participants are able to complete this additional work within their working hours, whereas others are unable to.

Working hours
32% are able to complete their work in their normal working hours.
30% are able to complete their work about 50% of the time in their normal working hours.
38% are rarely or never able to complete their work in their normal working hours.

Impact of additional workload on hours worked
In addition to their normal weekly working hours:
31% are working 9 or more hours.
44% are working between 3 and 9 hours.
18% are working between 1 and 3 hours.
7% are not working any additional hours.

Tasks left uncompleted to avoid excessive working hours
54% are leaving tasks uncompleted because they are unable to find the time to do them.
Potential Causes for increased workload

Impact of Technology & Processes
51% respondents’ workload has been impacted by the University’s technological systems and/or processes.
49% of respondents’ workload has not been impacted by the University’s technological systems and/or processes.

Impact of the Severance Scheme
40% of respondents’ workload has been impacted by the Severance Scheme
60% of respondents’ workload has not been impacted by the Severance Scheme

Impact of restructure in the last 12 months
49% experienced increased workload
51% did not experience a workload impact

Impact of workload on stress over the past 12 months
96% have experienced increased stress due to workload over the past year, with 19% reporting consistently feeling stressed.

Impact of workload on morale over the past 12 months
91% have felt demoralised, with 23% reporting feeling consistently demoralised.

Impact of workload on quality of service
78% reported an impact the quality of service delivered.

Workload management
9% reported regular workload reviews with their manager.
19% reported frequent workload reviews with their manager.
50% reported occasional workload reviews with their manager.
22% reported no workload reviews with their manager.

Summary of Discursive Comments

TECHNOLOGY

  • Inadequate IT training for new tasks
  • Lack of MS Teams training
  • Wide range of systems and processes not linked, hence additional work required
  • New technological systems have increased workload
  • Learning to use and then find work arounds for functionality limitations

SEVERANCE

  • Unachievable increased workload requiring work over contract hours
  • Completing tasks above pay scale
  • Driven to seek alternative employment
  • Demotivated
  • Increased workload, but supported by manager
  • Loss of expertise and ability to provide a quality service
  • Programme at crisis point – lack of planning for the future
  • Loss of vital experience and expertise with no plan to replace
  • Work-life balance seriously impacted

OTHER REASONS FOR WORKING OVER CONTRACTED HOURS

  • Working from home
  • Recruitment freeze/non replacement of leavers
  • Additional responsibility, tasks or duties due to loss of expertise
  • COVID-related University initiative
  • Staff absence and/or furlough

NON-COST SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING WORKLOAD

People Management

  • Improve leadership and strategic task prioritisation: sharing tasks equitably; avoiding favouritism; ‘just do what you can manage’ isn’t helpful
  • Greater consultation on new activities
  • Streamline activity to focus on ‘need to do’ tasks all the way down from top to bottom
  • Reduce last minute decision making through improved planning and notice for changes to complex systems
  • Lower expectations from senior management
  • Call on alumni to help out as the NHS have done with retired staff
  • Review and update job descriptions – greater transparency over role expectations
  • Distribute workload from those heavily impacted by Covid to those with no/limited additional workload
  • Increase online meetings
  • Introduce a culture of administration that consistently tests each procedure for the burdens it places on staff and continually aim for redesign to reduce burden
  • Better communication between admin and teaching staff
  • Better communication between management, team leaders and staff
  • Flexible working

Processes

  • Reduce the amount of assessments and move more online
  • Reduce bureaucracy around PDR
  • Reduce bureaucracy around form filling
  • Better Agresso reporting
  • Spread online labs over more days
  • Remove the need for manual workarounds for dysfunctional online systems

Training

  • Better training
  • Increase staff confidence and proactivity to take on responsibilities

Other suggestions

  • Cut the services we offer to students and better manage their expectations
  • Change student menus to make them less labour intensive

Thanks

LUCU Committee

Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence

Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them’.

It can happen to men, women and people of any gender identity or sexual orientation, and it can be carried out by anyone of the same sex, a different sex or anyone of any gender identity. See ACAS definition.

Sexual harassment is usually directed at an individual, but not always. Sometimes there can be a culture of sexual harassment in a workplace which is called ‘joking’ and ‘banter’. Sexual harassment can include:

  • flirting, gesturing, or making sexual remarks about someone’s body, clothing, or appearance
  • asking questions about someone’s sex life
  • telling sexually offensive jokes
  • making sexual comments or jokes about someone’s sexual orientation or gender reassignment
  • displaying or sharing pornographic or sexual images, or other sexual content
  • touching someone against their will, for example hugging them
  • sexual assault or rape

Every day, people across the UK are sexually harassed at work. Our current laws put the onus on individuals to report such incidents but the TUC report that 4 out of 5 don’t feel able to tell their employer.


UCU/Ed Support Sexual Harassment Helpline

Call 0800 138 8724 or email support@edsupport.org.uk further information on the helpline can be found here.

Local Points of Contact for Staff with Sexual Harassment Concerns

Two members of the local branch committee have agreed to be points of contact for staff with sexual harassment concerns. Marie Hanlon (primarily for staff in professional services) and Sue Hignett (primarily for staff in academic departments). Their contact details can be found here. Please do get in touch with either of the contacts if you have any concerns regarding sexual harassment.

Campaign for 16 days in 16 ways

From the 25th Nov until the 10th Dec UCU are contributing to a campaign run by The Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, a feminist human rights organisation. For more information please see the UCU website here. Members who wish to get involved in organising and contributing to this campaign on a local level please get in touch with the branch by clicking here.

Continuing Professional Development

We are offering members a webinar course “Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence” at a date TBC. Our branch Equality Officer has recently completed the pilot session for this webinar and reported back “It was an excellent session lasting just under 1.5 hours”. The course aims to help you; identify what we mean by sexual harassment and violence, understand how polices can protect staff and explore how we can all challenge sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. At this point we are requesting Expressions of Interest, please click here to send an EoI to the branch.

LUCU Committee

Global Boycott of University of Leicester

Global Boycott of University of Leicester

UCU announced a global boycott of the University of Leicester, starting yesterday 4th May 2021, as the union hit the institution with the ultimate sanction of being greylisted. The announcement comes as Leicester staff also begin a marking and assessment boycott.

The greylisting sanction is part of a long running dispute over redundancies at the university. The sanction means UCU is asking its members, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community tosupport its members at Leicester in any way possible, including by:

  • not applying for any advertised jobs at Leicester
  • not speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at Leicester
  • not accepting invitations to give lectures at Leicester
  • not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at Leicester
  • not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by Leicester
  • not accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses at Leicester
  • refusing to collaborate on new research projects with Leicester.

The University of Leicester also faces action short of a strike, which begins today after 84% of UCU Leicester members who voted said they were willing to take industrial action. The action includes a marking and assessment boycott and Leicester staff will stop marking all work from today. The action could impact students’ graduations. UCU said Leicester must lift the threat of compulsory redundancies to end the dispute.

The university had originally threatened 145 staff with compulsory redundancy, although that number is now slightly lower due to some staff taking voluntary redundancy or accepting inferior contracts. Managers deny there are any financial reasons for planned redundancies and refuse to share data on finances with campus trade unions. But the university’s 2019/20 financial statements show the institution is having to borrow money in order to remain financially viable.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘We will not stand back and allow the University of Leicester to be destroyed by dismal management. Nor will we allow staff and students to pay the price for catastrophic failures of governance. It is rare for UCU to call for a global academic boycott, and doing so reflects the seriousness of the situation. Leicester staff have the support of the whole union in their ongoing action; we all stand alongside them in this fight against brutal job cuts. The university needs to lift its threat of compulsory redundancies if it wants to end this dispute.’

LUCU Committee

Women’s History Month: Women across the world

Women’s History Month

Women across the world

Only 20 countries (10%) have women as Heads of State and Government. The United Nations call for “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls

In the UK, we need role models in all areas of society.  An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Women in Parliament is running a series of discussions and debates about:

  • modernising Parliament to advance gender equality
  • amplifying the diverse voices of young women from across the country; giving them a seat at the decision-making table.
  • Call for Safe Spaces (part of UN Women): stopping the sexual harassment of women in public spaces, including online platforms

During the COVID-19 pandemic women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment, and poverty. Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces. 

The UN has published a report on ‘COVID-19 and women’s leadership: From an effective response to building back better’ to shine a light on the critical role of women’s leadership in responding to COVID-19 and preparing for a more equitable recovery. It recognizes pre-existing and new constraints to women’s participation and leadership and advocates for measures to facilitate women’s influence over decision-making processes.

This includes creating opportunities to ‘build back better’ by including and supporting women, and the organizations and networks that represent them, in the decision-making processes that will shape the post-pandemic future.

LUCU Committee

Survey Results: ‘Covid and In-Person Teaching’

Survey Results: ‘Covid and In-Person Teaching’

We are writing to report on the results of LUCU’s most recent survey on ‘Covid and In-Person Teaching’.  The survey was completed by hundreds of members and achieved a significant response rate as a proportion of the branch membership. This is the highest response we have had to a survey! – and represents an excellent increase in responses compared to our October survey. Thanks to everyone who responded, as your feedback will be used to inform our stance on this issue. LUCU would also like to thank those members who gave so generously of their time and expertise to help us frame the survey and to interpret its results. 

The survey was a listening exercise for the committee. Our aim was to test whether the view of the membership had changed since October and to gauge the current temperature of the membership concerning action that would be needed to push management into adopting the Online-Only position for the rest of this academic year.

Overall, the survey indicates broad support for LUCU to continue working with management to ensure a balanced approach where staff have the ability to request an opt-out of in-person teaching, in line with the outcome agreed through our local dispute process, and a preference for what some members termed ‘constructive’ solutions – that is, reserving ballots or threats of action only when other methods fail to achieve a satisfactory solution for the branch.  

To remind members, management has agreed the following with LUCU:

Staff may request home working even if they are not clinically vulnerable, and without necessarily involving input from Occupational Health, if they are concerned about undertaking their duties in-person. Although the survey focused on in-person teaching, this agreement covers all staff.  Requests are considered at school/unit level by the line manager or their nominee. 

If members would like the advice of a LUCU caseworker before submitting a request or during discussions with a manager, please contact our Casework Coordinator, Andrew Dix – a.dix@lboro.ac.uk.

Thus far, requests have been treated sympathetically, and the agreement is enabling members to work from home or have their in-person hours reduced to a number with which they are comfortable. LUCU is monitoring the process through regular updates from Reps, and regular contact with Deans and HR as required.

Members: please find a fuller report on the survey attached to your email.   

LUCU Committee

Women in Trade Unions and Discussion Group for “Complaint as Diversity Work”

Women in Trade Unions and Discussion Group for “Complaint as Diversity Work”

Women in Trade Unions

Women are seriously under-represented in trade union leadership roles, despite the fact that they form over half of UK membership. 

Women still earn an average of 18% less than men in our economy – the Gender Pay Gap at Loughborough University is larger, with a mean difference of 22.7%.

During the COVID-19 pandemic women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment, and poverty. Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces

Only 20 countries have women as Heads of State and Government. The United Nations call for “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls

Complaint as Diversity Work: Thursday 25th March 1-2pm

Our discussion group this week explores issues in Sara Ahmed’s lecture ‘Complaint as Diversity Work‘, which takes a critical (though not hostile) approach to management-led diversity agendas in Higher Education, with a particular focus on the gendered and racialized forms of labour they require. With Equality at the heart of UCU’s national #FourFights campaign and local work, our discussion will be led by members’ responses to the lecture. You can watch the lecture, which is an hour long, ahead of the session here and/or read a shorter blog post which introduces its main themes can be read here

Link to join the discussion session is here: Click here to join the meeting