LUCU News – July 2022
This newsletter reports on the AGM, USS & 4 Fights and Management Negotiations.
In brief, the AGM addressed the activities of the branch committee over the last year including – e.g. – the removal of ratings and the decoupling of rewards from PDR, our monitoring of Covid safety measures, GTVO campaigns for USS and 4 Fights, organising strike actions, the joint statement with Loughborough management on USS, and our input to Project Enable and the review of promotions criteria. Looking ahead, we discussed a major recruitment campaign for next year, which will include opportunities for members to receive training and support their Reps in this vital activity.
Officers for the 2022-23 committee were also confirmed:
- Mary Brewer: Chair
- Marc Gibson: Secretary
- Marie Hanlon: Membership Secretary
- Alec Edworthy: Health, Safety and Environment Officer
- Andrew Dix: Casework Coordinator
- David Wilson: Treasurer
- Sue Hignett: Equalities Officer
- Joanna Boehnert: Ordinary member
Minutes of the AGM have been emailed to all members.
USS & 4 Fights
A branch delegates’ meeting was held on 27 June. Delegates were asked to vote on the timing of an aggregated ballot for industrial action on USS & 4 Fights. 79% of delegates voted to ballot in October, with action to take place in Spring/Summer 2023; 51% of delegates voted against a summer ballot. Full details of questions and ballot results have been emailed to members.
HEC met on 1 July and agreed the following demands for 2022/23:
- To call on UUK to withdraw their imposed benefit cuts to USS
- To call on USS to carry out a new evidence-based valuation
- To reject the pay offer from the employers
- To seek a substantial (at least £2,500) pay increase
- To seek meaningful agreements on workload, casualisation, and equality pay gaps
However, regard timing, HEC decided to open the ballot in August to run until October, with industrial action to begin in November, should the employers not agree to the above demands. This appears out of line with the expressed view of a large majority of branches, whose delegates proffered a variety of reasons why they did not support this strategy and/or feel able to deliver a positive ballot result within this time frame. Consequently, branch officers have requested a meeting with Justine Mercer, HEC Chair, to discuss further the rationale for November strike action.
Management Negotiations: PDR and Covid 19
JNCC, in which the 3 campus unions negotiate with management, met on 6 July.
Management confirmed that the 2023 round of PDR will follow the same process as this year, that is, there will be no ratings or reward tied to PDR. However, in 2024, management is considering returning to ratings and re-linking PDR to rewards. The three campus unions made clear our strong opposition to the reintroduction of a judgemental rather than developmental review of staff performance.
The unions requested that senior management
- reiterate to all line managers that staff are not expected to work when ill, whether from Covid or another illness,
- recirculate the policy that asks staff who have Covid or any other communicable disease to stay at home to protect others, and
- continue providing cleaning materials for commonly used equipment, whether desks, copiers, vans, etc. We are pleased to report that management agreed to these requests.
The unions also asked that clean air is ensured, free from airborne spread diseases. This could be provided by adequately filtered air handlers, where fitted, and HEPA air purifiers where there is no mechanical ventilation. We are disappointed that management would not agree to the installation of air purifiers, because, they argued, there is insufficient evidence to support their effectiveness. LUCU disagrees with this analysis, and our Health and Safety officers will discuss the question of evidence further with Neil Budworth, the Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing.
We have received a response to our newsletter, above, from Anne Lamb, Director of Human Resources, regarding the item on PDR.
It remains the case that there is not likely to be any significant change on ratings or rewards for PDR 2023; however, we have been asked to circulate further details about the timing and decision-making process regarding PDR.
- Following a meeting of the Academic Leadership team and consultation with Deans, final details about PDR 2023 will be shared with staff in the autumn.
- Looking ahead to 2024: PDR and reward are to be included in one of the University’s enabling projects, Project Expectation, which will explore the longer-term arrangements.