Strike Pay – How to Claim from the Fighting Funds

Strike Pay – How to Claim from the Fighting Funds

The national officers have authorised payments from the national Fighting Fund in support of members in the HE disputes (USS and Four Fights) which started on 1 December 2021.  Payments from the national scheme apply from your second strike day and currently up to a maximum of 11 days. In addition, as a branch, we have passed a motion to use our local strike fund to reimburse hourly-paid staff for the first day they strike up to the same daily maximum.  Please note the December, February and March dates are all considered a single set of actions meaning your “first day” of action (for which no payment is available from the national fund) is only counted once, not separately for each set of dates.

In order to make a claim to the Fighting Fund you need to: 

  • be paying subscriptions at the correct rate (if any subscription is payable); 
  • have participated in official strike action and lost pay for this
  • provide evidence of deduction from your salary or loss of earnings for strike action. 

Claiming from the Local Strike Fund (hourly paid staff, day 1 claims

Please send the following to our treasurer David Wilson – D.Wilson@lboro.ac.uk

  • confirmation from your School or Department of the hours not worked due to striking
  • the number of hours missed and the hourly rate of pay you receive

Claiming from the National Strike Fund (all other claims)

Claims to the Fighting Fund in respect of all disputes can only be made once members receive payslips showing deductions for strike action. Please read the appropriate Guidance before making your application. The Higher Education Guidance can be found here

If you are in a position where you can go without making a claim or you feel able to claim for a lesser amount please consider doing so in order that we can prioritise those whose loss of pay may cause particular hardship. The Fund will be able to support more members for longer if you can contribute in this way. 

Click here to make your application. 

Donating to the National Fighting Fund 

You can make a donation to the Fighting Fund here or by sending a cheque payable to UCU and marking the back of the cheque ‘donation to UCU fighting fund’. Please send cheques to UCU, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH. 

LUCU Committee 

Teach Out & Picket Details for Week 3

Teach Out & Picket Details for Week 3

Teach-out: Creating Racial Dialogue
You are invited to attend a Teach-out: Creating Racial Dialogue, hosted by Angela Martinez Dy on Monday 28th February from 10:30am – 11:30am, online via MS Teams. The teach out is open to all Loughborough University staff & students and builds on the previous work of “Building the Anti-Racist Classroom” & Collective Anti Racist Efforts (CARE) training. Please register here before Sunday 4pm to receive the link to join: https://lboro.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/event-registration-teach-out.

Please share this invite with other staff/students you think may like to attend.


Picket Details – Week 3

Thanks, again, to everyone for their efforts on the picket line so far. We wanted to remind you of the picket arrangements for next week when we will be striking over Four Fights dispute. Strike days for week three are Monday 28th Feb, Tuesday 1st March & Wednesday 2nd March.

Picket times and locations remain the same 8am – 11am daily at the main gate of the Loughborough Campus (unless you’ve agreed to attend another gate – contact M.A.Gibson@lboro.ac.uk ). London based colleagues, please keep an eye on our social media accounts for details of further London Campus pickets. Well done to all for your solidarity so far, let’s keep the pressure on and force employers back to the table.

LUCU Committee

LUCU News December 2021

LUCU News December 2021

USS: Response to Vice-Chancellor’s email

We have reported on our ongoing work with management related to workload, EDI and casualisation in previous newsletters, so we concentrate here on USS.

We welcome the University’s continuing willingness to discuss these issues with the branch. This has led to a several important developments. Firstly, we are pleased that the University continues to recognise that the current USS valuation is excessively prudent and that, as a result, the cuts to our pensions we are being asked to accept are unnecessary. Secondly, we are also pleased that the University has called for a new evidence-based, moderately prudent valuation to supersede the existing flawed valuation.

Making such a call was one of the two demands that UCU made of employers in the current dispute. Finally, we very much welcome the University’s acceptance that UUK should provide the same level of covenant support to all proposals considered at the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). UUK’s refusal to do this in August, with the consequence that UCU’s proposals could not be considered, is a direct cause of the industrial action scheduled.

However, we are disappointed that the University is not willing to call for the current UUK proposals to be withdrawn, the second of the two demands in UCU’s dispute letter. The rationale given by the Vice Chancellor – this would mean that we would be on a path to crippling contribution increases – is unjustified for at least two reasons. The first is that it ignores the fact that employers’ actions put staff on a path to crippling pension cuts. Essentially the Vice Chancellor’s argument is that the costs associated with the flawed 2020 valuation are so crippling that the University cannot risk being exposed to a share of them, so staff must be exposed to almost 100% of these costs instead. This is simply not fair. The second reason is (as explained here) withdrawing the UUK proposals would not involve significant contribution rises until October 2022. This would create enough space to find a negotiated settlement without the need for industrial action. Such a settlement would prevent the unaffordable increases scheduled for that date.

To be clear, the forthcoming industrial action would not be necessary if employers were willing to (i) call for a new evidence-based, moderately prudent valuation, and (ii) withdraw the current UUK proposals, and (iii) enter into good faith negotiations to find a fairer solution. We are very pleased that the University accepts (i) and (iii), but we are disappointed that it has chosen industrial action over calling for the withdrawal of the UUK proposals.

EGM Report: USS/Four Fights/Industrial Action

At the UCU delegates’ meeting on 12 November, the Branch representatives voted in line with the views expressed by Loughborough members at the EGM two days earlier: that is, in support of re-balloting universities that did not reach the 50% threshold, with industrial action to begin in the New Year.

The NEC met the following week and indeed decided to re-ballot those universities, but also to initiate strike action before the Christmas break. Therefore, failing a last-minute breakthrough in negotiations, we will be on strike on December 1-3 inclusive. We encourage you to let students know in advance if you will be taking part in strike action so as to maintain good relations and to avoid causing them undue inconvenience.

We are grateful to senior management for agreeing to delay pay deductions for December strike action until February, and for agreeing to maintain pension contributions during the action.

Pickets

There will be in-person pickets on campus each day. We will meet at the main University entrance at 8:00 am and picket until approximately 11 o’clock. There will be a BBQ on Friday.

BBQ on the Picket Line

To keep members safe, hand sanitiser will be provided as required on picket lines, social distancing will be observed, a list of participants for contact tracing purposes will be kept, and members intending to join the picket are asked to take a lateral flow test before participating.

Members who do not wish to use public transport to attend a picket might consider offering or taking part in virtual forms of action, such as organising a teach-in or using social media to distribute fliers and messages.

If you can support the action by joining a picket, offering a virtual event, or helping to advertise the action, please contact Marc Gibson

Out of Office Message

Below is a suggested out-of-office message for you to use during the period of industrial action. Of course, please feel free to adapt as you see fit:

I am currently unavailable as I am taking part in the University and College Union’s (UCU) strike action to defend our right to a fair pension. Please redirect your query to the University management, asking them to use their leverage to help secure a return to negotiations.

Solidarity with Leicester UCU

Some of our members will be supporting Leicester colleagues to GTVO in their re-ballot on USS. If you can’t travel to join the Loughborough picket line, but live in Leicester, please consider visiting their picket lines: they propose an 8:30 am start, with each day ending with a rally and march at 11am.

Branch News

LUCU Health and Safety officers undertook a programme of health and safety inspections in one School (as per Regulation 5 of the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations), following multiple reports from members in three subject areas who reported excessive workloads and work-related stressors that were having a detrimental impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.

The inspection took place between 26 October and 19 November. Four meetings chaired by a LUCU H&S officer enabled participants (both members and non-members in the School) to feed back on their work experience in terms of Demands (workload, work patterns and environment); Control (how much say they have over how they work); Support (resources provided both centrally by the University and by line management); and Change (how changes are managed and communicated). This was followed up by a survey. In total, we captured feedback from 66 staff.

The data collected revealed significant stress hazards, and a discursive analysis of responses, along with the survey results, was submitted to HR, with a request that management urgently develop an action plan to address the problems (with deadlines for reaching interim targets, as well as long term improvements). We are pleased to report that the University recognizes the validity of concerns about staff wellbeing in the School, and a meeting is scheduled between HR and the School’s SMT to start formulating an action plan. We will continue to monitor the situation through our reps, as well as through consultation with management about progress on the action plan.

New Reps

We would like to welcome two new reps. Saul Albert, who lectures on social psychology in Social Sciences and Humanities, is our new rep in Communications and Media. Tony Sutton, who is a University Teacher in Wolfson, will now be representing members in Mechanical Engineering. Saul succeeds Dominic Wring, while Tony is taking over from Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf. The Branch Committee would like to thank Dom and Kaddour for their many years of excellent service to members in their areas.

LUCU reps serve as essential ‘on the ground’ points of contact for members. If you might be interested in serving as a rep for your area and would like to know more about what the role entails, we encourage you to talk to our Membership Secretary Marie Hanlon

LUCU Committee

Helping Branches Achieve the Ballot Threshold

Helping Branches Achieve the Ballot Threshold

Helping branches achieve the ballot threshold

UCU National are requesting volunteers to help message members at branches that did not make the threshold. The request is for people to use the ThruText system to help with get the vote out (GTVO). This is a really simple tool to use and can be accessed from most web browsers. If anyone is interested in taking part and helping branches across the country to achieve the ballot threshold please fill in your details here and the campaigns team will be in touch.

Helping the LUCU to help you
We used the ThruText system at Loughborough in the last ballot window and it was very effective. With further re-ballots looking likely, please do log onto MyUCU and check that both your contact details and employment details are up to date. We would like to encourage more of our members to list a mobile phone number on MyUCU for use in future ballots.

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.

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

Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity

Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity

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:

  1. #ChooseToChallenge bias.  A workshop with Marie Hanlon to empower people to identify and challenge bias head-on.
  2. 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. 

The University has also organized events to mark these dates: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/iwd-2021/

Listening to Lived Experience

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.

Gendered Lives.

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: ucu@lboro.ac.uk

LUCU Committee

Solidarity with Leicester UCU

Solidarity with Leicester UCU

The following letter of solidarity has been sent to Leicester UCU

Dear Leicester UCU,

We write as the committee of Loughborough UCU to express our full solidarity with you and your members in the face of threatened redundancies. We are in full agreement with the analyses you make in your statement on this matter, and are dismayed by the actions of the  University of Leicester’s senior management. Every proposed redundancy concerns us, though we note that trade union activists and academics undertaking critical research are among those targeted. We are also especially appalled by the suggestion that proposed redundancies in Medieval Literature have been justified in the name of ‘decolonisation’. Such a cynical misuse of this movement is a clear attempt to turn movements critical of higher education management against one another, and is an affront to those who fight for racial equality within and beyond the academy. 

Solidarity should not, of course, be contingent on proximity. But as near neighbours we recognise we may be in a strong position to provide support to your branch in the struggle ahead: please feel free to get in touch if there is anything we can do. 

In solidarity, 

The committee of Loughborough UCU