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.