A LUCU/LU joint statement is in progress and having responded to a first draft we now await amendments and continue to push for this to be finalised soon. In the meantime, the university has agreed to internally publish an update on the work that has been ongoing on the issues of concern. We are pleased to share that senior management has agreed to consult locally with LUCU on their response to the USS consultation which is currently in progress.
UCU is supporting branches and members in challenging the pay deductions made for MAB. Their advice is that this process is likely to be a breach of contract claim which would be made via the County/Sheriff Court. However,the first step would be to go through the internal grievance process.
Should you wish to raise a claim, guidance on the steps to follow and who to contact can be found here.
The University has recently chosen to suspend its provision of in-house counselling to staff who need support in overcoming personal and professional problems that are affecting their well-being. Instead, they are offering a confidential advice service that is run externally via the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). We are seeking UCU members’ feedback on this service to ensure that members are receiving high-quality and ethical support in this important area of occupational health. Responses will be held securely and confidentially by LUCU committee and will be fed back to senior management in an anonymised way. Please share your experiences with us by clicking the link in the email version of this newsletter.
After discussions with UCU National, we have had confirmation that you are eligible to claim from the National Fighting Fund for 50% MAB deductions for the weekdays where these deductions are applied. We strongly encourage you to make use of both the national and local fighting funds. For many of us this is a challenging time financially, and we want to make sure you know you can claim for strike or MAB days where you have lost wages/had deductions taken. For more information and to make a claim from the national fund, please see here.
The local fund is available to hourly paid staff and staff who are facing immediate financial hardship as a direct result of industrial action e.g. difficulty paying for essentials for themselves or their dependents. The local fund will pay out for the first day of industrial action, and any later days which are not covered by the national fund. To make a claim from our local fund, please contact our treasurer David Wilson.
Our local fund is quite healthy currently so if anyone wishes to donate you can find out how to donate to the national fighting fund, here.
Congratulations are due to Professor Matthew Inglis, who has been elected to membership of Council for a period of 3 years from 1 August 2023. Congratulations also to Dr. Giulia Piccolino and Dr. SarahParker, who have been elected to Senate, both representing the School of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Vacant Council Seat
We would like to call your attention to another vacancy on University Council for a member of Academic Staff from August 1, 2023, for a 3- year term of office. Because Council is the governing body of the University and is responsible for its strategic direction and overall governance, having positions filled by colleagues who are sympathetic to the union’s aims is important. If you are eligible, please consider standing, and let us know if you put yourself forward so that LUCU can support your bid to represent Academic Staff.
The General Assembly, called by members in response to the University’s policy of pay deductions for participation in the Marking and Assessment Boycott, offered an opportunity to question the Vice-Chancellor.
Questions from the floor covered a wide range, beginning with the University’s decision to timetable the General Assembly for a Friday afternoon and without the possibility of online participation. Though we appreciate the VC’s point that his busy diary left few other scheduling options, we remain concerned at the lack of remote access and believe this represents poor practice with regard to important university-wide meetings.
From this starting-point regarding the GA itself, questions turned to the University’s response to MAB. The Vice-Chancellor was asked among other things about the fairness of applying equivalent deductions when colleagues’ marking loads and other assessment duties differ significantly (he reiterated the point made to us previously that deductions actually applied are at the discretion of Deans); about the loss of good will caused by this policy (he did not deny that there has been damage); and about the incompatibility we perceive between this policy on the one hand and the new University Strategy’s emphasis on valuing staff on the other.
The VC was also asked how the University settled on a figure of 50% pay deductions for participation in MAB. His response was that the number is somewhere in the middle, as regards the sector, with several institutions applying no deductions at all and others at the opposite end of the spectrum deducting 100%. Our position remains that the Loughborough policy is punitive, demoralising, and shows the University more squarely entrenched in the UCEA mainstream than at other times when it has engaged in coalition-building towards progressive positions in industrial disputes.
LUCU is grateful to members who attended the General Assembly and asked questions. It was valuable to be able to raise concerns about University policy directly with the VC.
In our June newsletter we reported on our work with senior management to revise the Casual Employment Charter, which was initially created following our 2018 industrial action. This work is now complete, and the revised LU Casual Work Principles have been shared on University News (5th July) and are on the HR website. Deans were consulted prior to completion of the Principles and should now have disseminated these to staff involved in organising casual work contracts.
To ensure casual staff are informed of their rights, work is currently underway to produce a shortened version of the Principles for inclusion with future casual work contracts. Going forward, HR Partners will monitor compliance in schools. Further, a member of HR has been assigned to review all existing contracts. Where issues are identified, they will meet with Deans and managers, and where needed will provide training to ensure the casual staff are contracted to the correct grade and have been given the correct information regarding their role and rights. It has been agreed that where grades are found to be incorrect, this will be corrected and the potential for back-pay will be considered on a case by case basis.
We request that any members on casual contracts who have concerns get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
The branch held a well-attended AGM. We’d like to extend our thanks to all members who took the time to come along and take part in branch democracy. Next year’s committee members (Term of office begins on 1st August for 1 year) were announced as:
Chair: Mary Brewer; Secretary: Marie Hanlon; Treasurer: David Wilson; Equalities Officer: Ellen Nicholls; Health, Safety and Environment Officer: Alec Edworthy; Personal Casework Co-ordinator: Andrew Dix; and Ordinary Committee Member: Marc Gibson.
Several vacancies remain for officers and ordinary committee members, so please get in touch for information if you have any interest in joining the branch committee.
The branch passed a motion in support of Ukraine and are raising a similar motion at the UCU East Midlands Regional Committee. As requested by the motion, the branch committee will discuss signing up to the Ukraine Solidarity Movement at the next committee meeting.
We hope that you’re reading this having returned from an enjoyable Easter break.
IMPORTANT: remember to vote in the formal consultation on the dispute proposals.
We appreciate that if you’re returning from time away from work over Easter, you’re likely to be wading through a big backlog of emails. However, please make it a priority to act on the email which you should have received late on Tuesday 4 April from Jo Grady. Your vote must be cast by 10 am on 17 April. Allow yourself enough time for this task as UCU has supplied a considerable amount of material to enable you to make an informed decision.
Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB)
Should the consultation results take us into a MAB, a branch General Meeting will be called to discuss our approach and to answer members’ questions. You can read UCU’s MAB FAQs here and specific advice for academic-related and professional services staff here.
In the meantime, we urge you to register for UCU MAB training on 17 April, beginning at 5pm. For more information and details of how to register, please click here.
Joint statement with management and LSU
Building a strong relationship with Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) has been high on our agenda for some time, and we are delighted that a recent innovation has been the scheduling of tripartite meetings between ourselves, student leaders and members of the University’s senior management. Though our perspectives on the disputes sometimes differ, the meetings have been highly constructive and have allowed us to stake out some common ground. Please see here for our first joint statement. We will continue to meet while the industrial action lasts – though our aim is for this positive collaboration to extend beyond the current moment and engage other of our priorities as a branch.
Hardship fund donation by Leicester Workers Support Group
The branch is very grateful to Leicester Workers Support Group for its generous donation of £100 to our hardship fund.
We would like to remind members that we have two WhatsApp groups available for your use. The first group is for all members, regardless of which campus you work on. The second group is specifically for London campus members. These groups were set up to allow members to communicate during strike action when the use of work email is discouraged. The WhatsApp groups have developed into a fantastic branch building forum, enabling members to stay informed and up to date on the latest dispute news and – more broadly – to connect with each other and engage in discussions on union issues.
Our branch is committed to extending engagement with our membership, so that we can more effectively represent your interests. We encourage all members (both those in Loughborough and in London) to join and participate in our main WhatsApp group. We believe that, together, we can create positive change and better working conditions for all.
We should emphasise that, while we welcome questions and feedback via WhatsApp, it is essential to email the branch directly if you have a message for the committee. This ensures that nothing is missed and we can address any concerns as quickly and effectively as possible.
In summary: stay connected, stay informed and let your voice be heard. Join the Lboro UCU WhatsApp and, if a London member, the LUCU London WhatsApp using the links in the email of this newsletter that has been sent to members, or email the branch for the link to join.
Branch Equality roles
During our recent general meeting, a motion was presented to create new Equality Officer roles for various areas of equality work, including BAME, LGBTQ+, Women, and Disability. After considering the feedback received, the committee has decided it is currently most practical to maintain the arrangement of one branch Equality Officer. However, with an important modification: we hope that the Equality Officer will be supported by several Equality Reps who will work on their chosen area(s) of equality interest. The Equality Rep roles will be created as volunteers come forward.
Equality Reps will be encouraged to join the committee in non-officer positions and will be welcome to attend all committee meetings.
If you are interested in becoming an Equality Rep for the branch, we encourage you to get in touch with us. Your involvement will help us to better address the needs of our members and ensure that we are effectively promoting equality in all areas.
Advance notice of AGM and branch elections
We are pleased to announce that this year’s LUCU AGM is scheduled for 28 June. Official notice of this meeting will be sent out in May, and, with it, a call for nominations for branch officers and committee members. We encourage all members who are interested in joining the committee to put your names forward.
It is important that we increase our numbers on the committee, in order both to better represent our membership and to share the load of union work. All committee members have time assigned to them in their workload allocation so that they can undertake this role during normal working hours. By joining the committee, you will play a vital role in shaping the union and supporting our members.
If you are interested in joining the committee and would like to find out more about our work before the nominations open in May, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We would love to see some new faces on the committee for the upcoming year, and we hope that you will consider taking an active role in our union. Let us work together to strengthen our collective voice and achieve positive change for our members.
Motions sent to Congress and SHESC
The branch has recently approved two motions to be forwarded to national bodies. The first of these, regarding student engagement in our campaigning and disputes, has been sent to the Special Higher Education Sector Conference scheduled for later in April. This motion urges national UCU to form a working group to extend student engagement during industrial disputes, so as to increase pressure on university managements.
In addition, the branch has passed a motion for UCU Congress in May. This calls on UCU to move away from using the term and principles of Equality, and instead adopt the concept of Equity. The reason for this change is that Equity, as a concept, recognises that not all individuals start from the same place, and some may require greater support to reach fair outcomes. We believe that adopting the term Equity will both serve our members better and contribute to a more just society.
We express our condemnation of the recent decision by management at the University of Leeds to implement 100% pay deductions for staff who did not deliver teaching missed on strike days. This approach goes beyond the usual deductions applied across the sector for strike action and is punitive and provocative.
We urge our members to join us in signing the petition to revoke the 100% pay deduction threat for action short of a strike (ASOS) at Leeds. It is crucial that we stand together in solidarity with other branches and push back against this unjust treatment of our colleagues. Let us send a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated and that we demand fair and respectful treatment of all staff.
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.
Matters of interest going forward that were reported on/discussed are as follows: ongoing negotiations with management have resulted in a formal review of the PDR process, promotions process, and Grievance process being initiated this year – these reviews will conclude at different points through 2021-22. A Charter to improve and protect the working terms and conditions of Casual Staff is in the final stages of negotiation following the work of the Anti-Casualisation Task and Finish Group, and we will report back when this has been adopted.
Three motions were debated: 1) Rule Change Motion (Annual General Meeting) – passed; 2) Rule Change Motion (Rules for Local Motions) – withdrawn; 3) Local Subs Motion 2021 – passed.
Local Subs Motion 2021
The majority of our local branch income pays for our excellent administrative support, without which the branch would not be able to achieve all it does. Branch officers would spend much more time doing administrative tasks and would have far less time to spend negotiating with the University and supporting members through casework. UCU staff are members of the USS pension scheme alongside us.
This motion had two aims:
We needed to stem a current deficit in the branch finances and allow for expected staffing cost increases, especially due to USS;
We hoped to move from a regressive flat-fee structure to a progressive tiered structure.
As a result of this motion passing, local subscription rates will move from a flat fee paid by all members (whose earnings vary enormously) to a tiered structure based on the pay bands used for your national UCU subscriptions. This does mean a small increase for our highest earners but allows for a decrease for those earning less. Our very lowest earners (under £5,000 per year), typically employed part time and often on precarious contracts, will no longer pay local subscriptions. Previously they paid over three times more for their local subscription than their national subscription.
The changes are as follows:
£60,000 & above (F0)
£40,000 – £59,999 (F1)
£30,000 – £39,999 (F2)
£22,000 – £29,999 (F3)
£15,000 – £21,999 (F4)
£5,000 – £14,999 (F5)
Below £5,000 (F6)
Changes to contributions rates
77 of our lowest paid, often most precariously employed, members have their subscriptions reduced 84 pay roughly the same 319 pay just over £1 more 66 highest paid members pay £3.37 more – to use a now somewhat hackneyed phrase, “the price of a coffee”.
I’m grateful to all of the members who voted in favour of the progressive option which makes our subscription model much fairer.
David Wilson, Branch Treasurer
The composition of the LUCU Committee for 2021-22 was announced:
Chair – Mary Brewer
Negotiating Secretary – Marc Gibson
Casework Coordinator – Andrew Dix
Health and Safety Officer – Alec Edworthy
Equalities Officer – Sue Hignett
Pensions Rep – Matthew Inglis
Treasurer – David Wilson
Membership Secretary – Marie Hanlon
Ordinary member – Joanna Boehnert
EGM on Workload – Report
Our most recent EGM addressed how workload for next year is being managed across departments/schools.
There was some good news from members in SDCA, where SMT is taking a more progressive approach to workload, which involves open discussions at school meetings where staff (and our LUCU Reps) can raise the question of tariffs, un-costed work, EDI, and other issues of concern. This effort at genuine consultation, transparency, and inclusion is welcome! We are also pleased to report that the Dean of Loughborough London responded immediately and positively to working with us on workload and EDI related issues as part of the planning for next year’s workload.
While these are hopeful developments, members in other schools reported limited or no consultation on workload, tariff reductions to make staff appear to be working within the 1598 agreed workload, tariffs that bear scant relation to the time needed for tasks, stress from overwork, a lack of transparency/fairness relevant to workload, and uncertainty regarding the appropriate consideration of EDI and workload. LUCU will be running a workload campaign in 2021-22, with the aim addressing the problems with workload that have been highlighted by members.
In response to issues raised by the Workload Task and Finish group (which is ongoing), the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor is preparing a paper on the new workload model that will be presented at the next ARSNC, and we will report back to members about this in due course.
If you would like a copy of the minutes from the AGM and/or EGM, please write to UCU@lboro.ac.uk.
LUCU continue to work closely alongside the other campus unions, HR, and Health and Safety to monitor the situation surrounding Covid-19.
Loughborough still has the highest student testing compliance rates in HE, and it is because of this that cases remain very low. We have seen a slight increase in cases recently, reflecting the national situation, but with the prompt action from Connect and Protect the numbers are being kept low and full contact tracing is taking place (no links between the cases have been identified suggesting that they are community acquired rather than University related). With the likelihood of further relaxation of the restrictions, we’re anticipating campus getting busier and more people returning to the office. As and when this happens, we will work to ensure that our members’ working environments are managed safely and appropriately.
LUCU would like to remind our members that we must not get complacent – social distancing, face coverings (except where exempt), regular hand washing and plenty of ventilation are still essential. If you feel comfortable, please do politely challenge others where you see these rules not being observed, or, if you prefer, please alert the relevant Health and Safety contact in your area so that they may ensure compliance with Covid safety rules. And please continue to let us know of any concerns you may have about health and safety in your area of work.
Alec Edworthy, Branch Health and Safety Officer
We would like to remind members to use the UCU modeller that has been developed, which will show how your pension will be affected if the changes to USS advocated by UUK become a reality: UCU – UUK pension proposal modeller.
The modeller may be used by non-members as well, so please share widely with colleagues.