Having a LUCU Voice on Staff Networks & Age Appreciation Group Relaunch
Let’s get our union’s voice heard in as many staff groups as possible! We ask members to consider joining the Age Appreciation Group which is about to be relaunched, and/or any of the existing staff networks. More information on the Age Appreciation Group is given below. You can find a list of all staff networks here with contact details for joining each network listed on their own sub-pages.
Age Appreciation Group (AAG) Relaunch
Are you a member of another staff group who is also interested in age as a protected characteristic? Would you like to be involved in shaping this relaunched staff group? Many hands make light work, and the AAG will be best led by as diverse a team as possible, in terms of age profile, protected characteristics and job roles within the organisation. If you are interested in hearing more about the group’s plans, please email Catherine Armstrong.
Mission and values
Age is often the forgotten protected characteristic. Issues and concerns around age and aging in the workplace are diverse and can be difficult to address. The Age Appreciation Group (AAG) will champion the voices of those within the organisation who experience or observe age discrimination, and will highlight the organisation’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Age-related discrimination, harassment and victimisation are often experienced intersectionally, and therefore meaningful collaboration between the AAG and other staff groups will be at the heart of its mission. It will also raise awareness of issues faced by staff members in various parts of the employment life cycle from early career to retirement.
Ideas for activity
Challenging discriminatory behaviour towards young or young-appearing staff members (being treated as ‘junior’, lacking expertise, older colleagues expecting deferential treatment).
Research on age and aging from a non-Western, non-Eurocentric perspective. What can we learn from, for example, indigenous cultures?
Reviving menopause support and awareness raising, for example the Menopause Café
Working with the Staff Inclusivity Group to ensure that staff experiencing age-related disability are getting the help in the workplace that they need.
Reviewing university provision for retiring colleagues. Are they getting support to help them make informed decisions about retirement and to make preparing for retirement as positive an experience as possible?
We wanted to remind you that UCU is calling on all our members that have voluntary positions with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to resign.
This followed UCU’s letter to UKRI calling on it to reverse its decision to suspend its advisory board on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) by the end of Friday 3 November, which UKRI refused to do. UCU conveyed its anger and disappointment at UKRI’s capitulation to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Skills Michelle Donelan’s interventions. The letter also criticises the Secretary of State for seriously misrepresenting the views expressed by two members of the advisory board.
Attacks on academic freedom
We know that many members are concerned about attacks on academic freedom or freedom of speech. UCU encourage affected members to come forward so they can build up an effective picture of where issues are developing. Please let us know if you have been affected.
Following recent events UCU are also aware of a rising number of cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia, including in colleges and universities. UCU opposes all forms of discrimination, support is available when experiencing discrimination, bullying or harassment. Please contact the branch if you need support.
One of the positives from the recent pensions victory is that joining the USS Pension should be more affordable, notwithstanding that we are still in a cost-of-living crisis. From 1 January, contribution rates should lower for employees from the current 9.8% to 6.1%. This means that a person on £30,000 salary should save £1,110 per year in contributions.
£215 Payback Payment
To qualify for the £215 pension payment, a scheme member must have active service in the scheme before 1 April 2024. Members need to earn £16,125p.a. to get £215 of pension. This will increase with inflation until retirement and be paid each year in retirement. This means the value of the payment for a person aged 50 now, who retires at 66 and claims their pension for 25 years, is around £13,000 if we estimate average inflation at 3%. However, if a person waits until after 31 March 2024 to join the scheme, they will not be entitled to this payment.
Accrual Rate & Inflation Cap
From 1 April 2024, the change in accrual rate from 1/85 to 1/75 will mean that the amount of money going into your pension pot each year will be higher, so your pension will be worth more. Also, the changes to inflation protection from the current max of 2.5% to the soft cap max of 10% means your pension will grow more. The change in threshold for DB/DC means that more money goes to DB meaning members get a better return when they retire.
Firstly, we want to say a massive thank-you to three of our departmental reps who are stepping back after years of brilliant dedication in the role. Members in their areas, and indeed across campus, will have benefited greatly from the work of Ian Jones (Maths Education), Ruth Kinna (International Relations, Politics and History) and Saul Albert (Communication and Media).
At the same time as saying goodbye to three of our reps, we also want to welcome two new members of the reps’ team: Magnus Hamann (Communication and Media) and Matyas Gutai (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering). We know that Magnus and Matyas will do a great job in representing members in their departments. Magnus is also standing in as the rep for IRPH until a replacement for Ruth can be found.
MagnusHamann (Communication and Media Department Rep in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities) My day work is as a University Teacher in Communication and Media. Previous to becoming a permanent member of staff at Loughborough University, I worked various jobs as a research assistant. As such, I know that having a union that is serious about doing something about the casualisation of (academic) workers is vital. I became a Union rep as a way to do something proactively especially for members in precarious positions.
We do still have several vacancies in our reps’ team: please see this page of our website for an up-to-date list of positions available. If you have any interest in taking on one of the vacant roles, please get in touch with our Branch Organiser, Callum Salfield, for an informal chat about what it entails and what you might bring to it.
Congratulations to all our members both locally and nationally who contributed to industrial action, forcing our employers to reverse pensions cuts. Your commitment has not gone unnoticed by other members of staff, who have expressed their thanks. This has been a big win for all university employees who hold USS pensions – but it would not have been achieved without our committed members, both here at Loughborough and across the sector. Go to the USS Modeller to see how much better off you’ll be following the restoration of our benefits. 😊
Without a committed membership, we have no strength! Our next push is to build on this win by increasing our numbers. So, let’s make a noise about our success! Members talking to colleagues not yet unionised is the most effective way we can recruit. We’d appreciate it if every member would speak to at least three colleagues to encourage them to join us, using this link: join.ucu.org.uk. You can also help spread word of our win and encourage membership by liking and sharing/retweeting these social media posts: Twitter/X and Facebook. The more members we have, the more we can achieve!
We have written before in the newsletter about the important work done by the Branch’s volunteer caseworkers in support of members facing a variety of difficult situations at work. We are always looking for more people to join the team. There is an “Introduction to Casework” training session, organised by UCU regionally, taking place online on 14th November. If you are wanting to join the casework team, you would benefit from attending this session. If anyone is interested in finding out more about the training course and about what our caseworkers do, please contact our Casework Coordinator, Andrew Dix (A.Dix@lboro.ac.uk).
Please Vote in the UCU Pay and Conditions Re-Ballot
This is a reminder to please exercise your democratic right to shape the union’s strategy with regard to achieving better pay and working conditions for members by voting in the current re-ballot. Please watch this recent video update from Dr Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary.
To help us spread the word and get the vote out we can send you posters to put up around your area of campus; please let us know if you would like some posters sending in the internal mail by sending an email to the branch including your name and campus location.
You should have received your paper ballot in the post already, but if you have not received one, you may request a replacement ballot, here. You can also use the same link to report that you have returned your ballot paper.
Friday 27 October (12:00 noon): deadline for new members to join UCU and be automatically included in the ballot
Sunday 29 October (23:59): replacement ballot request form closes
Tuesday 31 October: last ‘safe’ date to return the ballot by post
Friday 3 November (17:00): industrial action ballot closes.
UCU Member Consultation – Recovery of USS Benefits – Please Vote
This request to vote is from UCU and is separate from the USS member consultation you were recently asked to complete on the USS website.
Following on from last week’s announcement that justice has prevailed in our long fight to win back our USS pensions, the employers’ representative body Universities UK (UUK) has already agreed to reverse the 35% cut made to the guaranteed income you will receive in retirement (i.e. ‘benefit restoration’) and to recover what has been lost (i.e. ‘benefit recovery’). The agreement with UUK is recommended unanimously by UCU’s USS negotiators and by the Superannuation Working Group (SWG). On Friday 6 October 2023, the elected representatives on UCU’s higher education committee (HEC) agreed to now formally consult you on benefit recovery proposals.
HEC is recommending that you vote YES (agree) to ACCEPT the benefit recovery proposals.
For your unique personal voting link please refer to the email from UCU sent around 4:30/5pm on Monday 9th October with Subject: IMPORTANT: UCU member consultation on recovery of USS benefits.
This formal consultation opened on Monday 9 October 2023 and will close on Friday 20 October 2023 at 12 noon, and UCU will announce results as soon as practicable.
Please make sure that you have your say by voting on the USS proposal.
UCU Rising – Developing consultation questions: meeting for members
As we approach the next phase of the UCU Rising campaign, UCU need to develop clear strategies to win the pay and working conditions dispute. The higher education committee (HEC) will make the decisions as the appropriate body under the rules, and UCU will hold a branch delegate meeting (BDM) to help HEC formulate that strategy.
UCU want to talk to and, more importantly, listen to as many members as possible to develop that strategy. One part of that will be a consultation of the whole membership and UCU want to engage members in developing the set of questions that will be used in that consultation. This mass consultation will inform the decisions which HEC and other democratic structures will take on the next steps in the HE dispute.
The meeting will be as open as possible, involving some breakout sessions, and members can share their suggestions and views. Please register for the meeting below by clicking the link.
Developing consultation questions: a meeting for all members in London, Eastern and Home Counties, West Midlands, East Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside regions. Wednesday 11 October, 16:30-18:00
Please help shape UCU’s next steps to winning our dispute by taking part in this meeting.
Response to transphobic statements in Rishi Sunak’s conference speech
Colleagues and Students,
You may be aware that Rishi Sunak made transphobic comments in his speech to the Tory conference this week, stating “we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.” As an academic community we recognise that the Appeal to Common Sense is a logical fallacy employed in desperation when an assertion cannot be properly defended.
As the committees for Loughborough UCU branch, and the Staff LGBT+ Network, we would like to make absolutely clear that we condemn Rishi Sunak’s comments. We recognise that gender is a complex, multi-dimensional aspect of everyone’s identity, and is unique to each of us. To characterise the experience of being transgender as “being any sex [you] want” is a deliberate over-simplification and mis-representation designed to scapegoat a marginalised community for populist appeal. As is the suggestion that this group are “bullying” the majority. And while anti-trans sentiments are often portrayed as defending women, they are in fact propping up patriarchy and the disempowerment of women, by emphasising the idea that men and women are fundamentally and radically different. We support members and non-members of any gender identity; everyone is part of our community. We are also committed to playing a key role in shaping and delivering the University’s EDI agenda, which includes recognition, respect and support for all individuals in their gender identity.
If you are interested in learning more about the complexity and nuance of gender identity, we recommend the LGBT Awareness course available through Organisational Development and presented by LUCU Treasurer and LGBT+ Network Trans and Non-binary Lead, David Wilson, as well as their post on the University’s LGBT Blog Trans visibility as an act of resistance.