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.
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.
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.’
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.
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 – email@example.com.
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.
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.
In 2021, the UK Government has been running a Toilet Consultation to consider ‘the ratio of female toilets needed versus the number for men, given the need for women to always use cubicles’ … and to ‘take into account the needs of all members of the community, to ensure there is a fair provision of accessible and gender-neutral toilets’.
They acknowledge that even in 2021, women often face excessive queues for toilets or do not have access to appropriate facilities. In some cases, this can mean women are reluctant to go out or take trips – so no progress from the 19th century.
Lean In Circles Workshop
Thursday 18th March 1pm-2pm
In this workshop you will have the opportunity to:
Connect with other women through small group discussions to share your struggles, give and get advice and celebrate each other’s wins.
Discuss and select a #ChooseToChallenge action card making a pledge for action to support and empower other female employees all year round.
Currently three areas are undergoing a restructure: Careers, Organisational Development, and the School of Science, where the restructure impacts on technicians. Management is only obliged to consult where 25 jobs or more will be affected. However, we are fortunate that in keeping with best practice the three campus trade unions, along with affected staff, are always consulted on proposed changes. The purpose of consultation is to allow staff and/or their representatives input into the restructure. Note that ‘consultation with’ the campus trade unions does not necessarily equate to ‘agreed by’ the campus trade unions.
An unpleasant fact of restructures is that they may result in staff being required to apply for a new post when the role they currently hold is made ‘redundant’, and they have not been ‘slotted in’ to the new role (‘slotting in’ is where the new role contains at least 60% of the duties of the previous role, as determined by the list of duties in the new and the old job descriptions). If there is a reduction in the number of posts available, then some staff may face redundancy. Whilst the direct impact of the current restructures is on Professional Services staff, the consequences may also impact on the workloads of academic colleagues.
The campus trade unions are united in opposing job losses because of these restructures. We will also fight against staff being asked to perform the same duties as previously at a lower pay grade or staff facing intensified workloads by being given additional duties for the same pay.
If you are/were involved in a restructure and believe trade union representatives have not been involved, we want to know: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do this so that we can monitor whether a pattern is developing whereby work is being pushed down onto lower grades, with higher grades being made redundant.
It has been brought to our attention that recent updates re: the PDR have not reached all members. In response to the pandemic, the University has announced that the deadline for PDR discussions has been extended to the end of April 2021.
These are 3 points we feel that we should bring to your attention.
No colleague will be assessed against objectives that have been so significantly affected by the pandemic that such an approach would be unreasonable. Last year’s objectives should be considered in-the-round and in the light of the challenges that we have all faced. This includes both different ways of working and domestic pressures such as home-schooling children or looking after dependents.
If objectives remain relevant, calculate a new time frame for their completion to be discussed with your reviewer. If no longer relevant say so and write them off – long justifications are not necessary for undeliverable objectives. A clear explanation of the legacy impact of Covid on your research will help ensure that you are not held to a set of unfair objectives in future.
The PDR discussion should focus on the coming year from the perspective of objectives, support and professional development.
Much of the work undertaken by the branch happens in plain sight: think, for example, of our brokering the Partnership Agreement with the University or our organisation of strike activity in support of national campaigns for better pay and pensions. By its very nature, however, personal casework, as undertaken on campus by a small team comprising a number of Committee colleagues and several department or section reps, is liable to go unnoticed. The work involves meeting members who contact us for support on a wide range of issues, reading material relevant to their cases, offering advice, and accompanying them to meetings with managers. The volume of work involved is significant. The rewards, however, are greater still, for in casework we encounter members who are facing difficult, worrying, even distressing situations, and we hope that they find our involvement supportive and constructive.
Sometimes a case with which a member approaches us can be resolved quite quickly and informally. On other occasions, however, the member may need advice in preparing a complex grievance claim or may be facing disciplinary action that has dismissal as one of its possible outcomes. High demands are made on the caseworker in these circumstances to be not only a source of support and counsel, but to be fully prepared.
In this academic year to date, we have offered formal casework support to 18 of our members. Many of these cases are ongoing. In the current, complex circumstances, we do not anticipate that the demands on the caseworking team will lighten.
We are grateful to those members who, either for the first time or as a refresher, attended the recent caseworker training session led by Joe Rooney from the union’s Regional Office. If you feel you might like to get involved in casework and want to find out more, please get in touch with our Personal Casework Coordinator Andrew Dix (A.Dix@lboro.ac.uk). Likewise, do contact Andrew if you would like union support and advice with any issue that you have in the workplace.
Launch of “LUCU Discuss”
Following the motion ‘Building LUCU’, the branch has set up a discussion list where members may raise issues of interest or concern, ask questions of each other, share ideas, and develop solidarity. We know work is especially isolating for many at the moment, and we hope that this might help bring our members together.
To join, please send an email to email@example.com with the subject “Subscribe to LUCU Discuss”. In the body, please write your name and the preferred email address you have listed for your UCU membership (this can be checked via MyUCU). You must join the list with the email address your UCU account is registered to (this is the email address through which you receive current UCU information).
Attached to this email are a set of rules and guidelines for LUCU Discuss that we would ask members to read before registering. We hope that members will find the discussion list useful and enjoyable. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Our Reps
Jen De Lillo, Library Services: I am Academic Librarian for English and Communication and Media Studies and work within the Library’s Academic Services Team. I’ve been in this role since 2016 having previously worked on research projects on digital scholarly editions of medieval texts after finishing my PhD in 2001. Given my experience, I understand first-hand the precarious nature of research positions. I became the union rep for the Library as I believe it is important for professional service staff to be represented and, as a part-time worker myself, I feel that it is essential for us to have a voice. I have found union colleagues invaluable when it comes to discussing matters informally and hope to be able to support others whilst keeping the local branch informed of any issues we may be facing within the Library.
Eef Hogervorst, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences: I am a Professor of Psychology and UCU rep for SSEHS. I very much support the solidarity principle and have personally had much benefit from being a LUCU member over the past years. I research mental health, with a focus on cognitive impairment. My particular interest is in menopause and dementia. During peri-menopause, many women find it hard to focus on work and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression that play a significant role in midlife. With HR and colleagues, I am developing a course for WHEN to help women navigate this. I have also given several lectures on career progression in academia. I am passionate about reducing gender differences in pay and career opportunities. I am training to become a LUCU caseworker.
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD2021)
International Women’s Day (IWD) was started in the 1900s when women’s oppression and inequality spurred them to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change in working hours, pay and for voting rights. The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909, followed by the establishment of International Women’s Day in 1911 in Europe and the US. International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.
Over the last 110 years, there is more equality in legislative rights in many countries, and an increased visibility of women role models. However, the gender pay gap persists, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health, and the violence against them is worse than that of men. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/15586/The-history-of-IWD).
To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, LUCU will be sending weekly emails with information about women in the workplace and also holding 2 free events on:
#ChooseToChallenge bias. A workshop with Marie Hanlon to empower people to identify and challenge bias head-on.
Complaint as Diversity Work reading group discussion with David Bell and David Wilson. This group will discuss the complexities that emerge when institutions take on the mantle of ‘diversifying’ themselves, and the struggles of those who complain about gendered and racialized issues in the workplace.
We all have complex identities made up of intersecting characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality and much more. We may face prejudice against our gender, while experiencing privilege because of our race, or vice versa. It’s important that we listen to the experiences of those around us and think about how they compare to our own, in order to help us understand this complex picture. Sharing our personal experiences, especially painful experiences, can make us feel vulnerable. Indeed, such experiences can make us materially vulnerable. It is a privilege when someone is willing to let us see into their lives, and it gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.
We are therefore very grateful to our colleague David Roberts, who recently shared an intimate account of his life on the University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion blog. In ‘Recollections of a racial past in a racist present’ David paints a vivid picture of the challenges he’s faced, and continues to face, and those who have helped him achieve the success he has. We urge you to find time in your busy lives to read it – especially if your race is not something you’ve ever thought much about.
When a baby is born, or indeed more often these days long before it is born, we ask “what is it?” The gender of the brand-new human becomes their defining feature before they have drawn their first breath – determining the choice of clothes in which they will be dressed and the colour of the toys on which they will dribble and chew. In the short piece “What are you having?”, David Wilson explores why we’re so keen to answer this burning question, and what problems it might cause.
If you would like to have a piece of writing on EDI circulated among the membership, please get in touch: email@example.com
Petition on the closure of Newcastle University‘s London campus
Please sign the petition on the closure of Newcastle University‘s London campus Members are asked to sign and share the petition which can be found here. Newcastle University’s London campus is set to close on 31st September 2021, and staff face the prospective of either a move to Newcastle or redundancy.
As you will have seen from the Vice Chancellor’s message on Wednesday, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has issued a new valuation.
The goal of the valuation is to assess the scheme’s assets and liabilities as of 31st March 2020. As the Vice Chancellor pointed out, pension funds are legally required to conduct valuations every three years. USS last undertook a valuation two years ago. Consequently, this valuation, the date of which coincided with perhaps the most uncertain point of the pandemic, is not required to take place for another year.
USS has used a valuation method very similar to that proposed in September 2020. In its response to these proposals, Universities UK (UUK), the group which speaks on behalf of universities like Loughborough, described the valuation method as “extremely unhelpful”, “unreasonable”, “unrealistic”, “incredibly conservative” and “unjustifiable”. UUK concluded that USS was making “extreme and unwarranted” proposals. Remarkably, the proposals issued on Wednesday are actually more extreme than those which prompted these unrestrained remarks.
The branch is engaging with management colleagues here at Loughborough. A report will be provided at the forthcoming AGM and members will have the opportunity to pose questions to our Pensions Rep, Matthew Inglis.