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