Higher education disputes: updating contact details on MyUCU

Higher education disputes: updating contact details on MyUCU

Plans are underway to hold the biggest ever aggregated ballots of the entire higher education sector regarding the pay and working conditions dispute (Four Fights) and USS pensions. The industrial action ballot will run during the autumn and UCU will be communicating with HE branches and members regularly over the next weeks. UCU will be in a position to share campaign details and timelines in the very near future.

Keeping clean data is vital to our success. Therefore, we are asking all our members to please check your details by logging onto MyUCU. Please make sure that the following details are correct/up to date:

  • Preferred postal address (where you will receive the industrial action ballot)
  • Preferred email address (where you will receive UCU’s emails including local branch emails and the Friday Email)
  • Mobile phone number (where we have current mobile phone numbers for members, this will greatly assist in ‘get the vote out’ (GTVO) efforts involving ThruText, the peer-to-peer SMS texting platform.)
  • Employer and workplace
  • Membership category (N.B. certain membership types such as retired members and student members are not included in industrial action ballots; members can also upgrade their membership on MyUCU if necessary)
  • Employment income band

Are you retiring this summer, leaving LU or taking parental leave?

If you will be retiring over the summer, these are the options with regard to your UCU membership.

If you are leaving LU and will be unemployed for any time, see here for more details on the ‘attached unemployed’ membership.

Members who are currently on parental leave can use MyUCU to inform the union. Members who are on parental leave/extended absence will be excluded from industrial action ballots for the duration of the leave. For more details please see here.

Issues logging on to MyUCU

If you encounter difficulties logging into MyUCU, this is very often because you have not registered to use MyUCU yet. You can register for MyUCU here. If you have already registered and still can’t log in please get in touch with the branch and we will assist you in resolving the issue.

Tax Relief on UCU Membership Subscriptions

We also want to take this opportunity to remind you that you can claim income tax relief on your UCU subscription. For more information on claiming tax relief please see here.

LUCU Committee

LUCU News – July 2022

LUCU News – July 2022

This newsletter reports on the AGM, USS & 4 Fights and Management Negotiations.

AGM Report

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.

PDR:

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.

C-19:

The unions requested that senior management

  1. reiterate to all line managers that staff are not expected to work when ill, whether from Covid or another illness,
  2. recirculate the policy that asks staff who have Covid or any other communicable disease to stay at home to protect others, and
  3. 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.

Addendum

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.

LUCU Committee

LUCU June News: Workload / USS & 4 Fights / LSU

LUCU June News: Workload / USS & 4 Fights / LSU

Workload: Project Enable

Colleagues involved in Phase 1 of Project Enable, the University’s review of workload, have thus far identified 77 areas where work could either be removed from the system or processes could be revised to create more headroom in staff workloads.  For example, a new triage system has been set up in the Research Office so faster decisions can be made on contract approvals, and bureaucracy is being reduced in the staffing approval process.

Changes are being made to the Ethics Approval process for both staff and student projects, which will reduce the amount of checking and save time for both PS and RTE colleagues, particularly in SSEHS and SDCA where staff have highlighted this as a workload stressor. Also, changes to a range of practices around learning and teaching, such as module and programme approval processes, are either underway or are being planned. LUCU welcomes these initiatives as they afford potential to free up time for professional services & RTE colleagues. 

The work carried out by the branch committee on the Task and Finish workload groups for RTE and Professional Services staff informed Phase 1 of Project Enable. In June, the Programme Board, chaired by Richard Taylor, will meet to carry out a prioritisation exercise to determine the workstreams for Phase 2 of Project Enable.  This exercise will consider the impact, effort required, beneficiaries and appetite for change in each of the items identified in Phase 1.

LUCU will be represented by Mary Brewer in Phase 2, who will join the Project Group. She will work closely with Sue Hignett as Equalities Officer to assess the EDI implications of proposed changes. Management recognizes that Phase 1 is unlikely to have captured all the activities where we might change working practices; therefore, members are encouraged to pass on ideas/suggestions for smarter working in their areas by speaking to their Department Rep or emailing UCU@lboro.ac.uk.

USS and 4 Fights: LUCU solidarity with assessment boycott at University of the Arts, London

UCU members in a relatively small number of branches began a marking boycott on the 23rd of May, in support of the USS and Four Fights campaigns.  As we are not taking part, our branch has “twinned” with the University of the Arts, London, who are undertaking this action despite threats of 100% pay deductions for partial performance.  The branch committee will offer practical campaign assistance where possible, and to further support our colleagues at UoA, £500 has been donated from our hardship fund to theirs.

We also urge you to consider donating to their Just Giving page if you can afford it.  This small number of colleagues are taking on a huge burden on behalf of us all, and any financial solidarity we can offer them will make a real difference to those who face having their pay withheld.

LUCU and LSU

At recent EGMs, members have asked us to prioritise establishing supportive exchanges with Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU), and we can report good progress on this front. Though mindful of the need to reflect a range of student opinion on campus, LSU has been helpful in soliciting material from us about our reasons for taking industrial action and in posting this on their social media platforms.

With a possible marking boycott in the air, Freya Mason, the LSU President, recently contacted us again. Mary Brewer and Andrew Dix then met with Freya and four of her team. We’re glad to inform members that this was a warm and productive conversation. While it would be unreasonable to expect LSU to be on the barricades with us, they are keen to play whatever role they can in finding solutions to current disputes (most pressingly, the pensions issue). With this in mind, we will be exploring the possibility of tripartite meetings, involving management, LSU and ourselves. At present, exchanges are only bilateral – and we would welcome the chance to make our case with student leaders, as well as managers, in the room.

We will say more in future newsletters as these initiatives develop (there will be opportunities for collaboration with LSU on other fronts as well, including mental health and equity and inclusion). For the moment, we’d just like to thank Freya and her colleagues for their support this year and to say that we look forward to working equally productively with the incoming LSU team. 

We hope you have a good break over the extended bank holiday!

LUCU Committee

LUCU News – May 2022

LUCU News – May 2022

EGM Report

Members’ views were canvassed regarding a further 10 days of strike action and a marking boycott as voted for at the recent HE sector conferences on USS & 4 Fights. An emergency motion was tabled that instructs branch officers to communicate to UCU HEC the following:

  • LUCU does not agree with the timing of a marking boycott in May/June;  
  • LUCU will hold our strike days in reserve at this time;
  • LUCU believes that national actions require a majority to be participating, and we are in favour of aggregated ballots.

The motion was passed with a majority of 84%. We have shared the motion with Paul Bridge, Head of UCU HE. The EGM revealed strong support for the strategy proposed by Jo Grady to delay action in order to build broader support throughout the sector (you can find her position paper here), but which was not supported at the sector conferences. At the meeting on May 10th for branches that have a mandate for action, our delegates will report members’ views as expressed in the motion and recommend that HEC give further consideration to Grady’s recommendations.

Throughout the dispute, the LUCU committee has kept the channels of communication open with management.  We reported to members on a joint LUCU-Lboro statement that syncs with the recent statement between Glasgow UCU & management (click here for the Lboro  statement). It is hoped that the statement will encourage other institutions to come forward and publicly support a fair resolution to the USS dispute. LUCU will now work to secure a joint statement on 4 Fights. 

General Assembly

The Chief Operating Officer, Richard Taylor, has responded to the 2 motions that were tabled for the General Assembly meeting that was postponed.

  1. Concerning the request that GA does not take place during strike action: the date of GA was fixed before Lboro UCU fixed their strike dates. We do not routinely re-organise University events affected by strike dates.
  2. On the second motion (the deficit), it is not clear if this is a motion to ask Council not to pay the deficit reduction now; if this is the case, we believe it would be beyond Council’s legal power to act in this way. If the intent is to push for a dispensing of the need for the deficit reduction payments in the future, this would be within Council’s powers, and therefore it could consider this. I believe it would be best to raise this following the next valuation.

I would like to note this point of governance: Council cannot be compelled to act by GA. The GA called and postponed, can still be reinstated at UCU’s request, but I would hope we could determine a better route. Management has no objection to the view of Loughborough UCU being shared with Council. If there are views/statements that Loughborough UCU wish us to bring to the attention of Council (which it could then choose or not choose to consider), we would be happy to do this. 

Given this statement, should another GA be called on a strike day, LUCU will act to gather the 25 signatures needed to call another meeting, and the branch committee welcomes the opportunity to present members’ views to Council.

Pay Gaps

The Government Pay Gap Review 2017-2022 reveals little progress over the last 5 years on gender; for example, Lboro is in the worst position for 3 metrics compared to other East Midlands universities. Click here for Lboro data on gender pay gaps; click here for government data.

We will be raising the issue of pay gaps for all staff with protected characteristics at the JNCC on September 14th. Management agrees that more progress is needed, and they have agreed to invite Charlotte Croffie (PVC for EDI) to present her initial thoughts on closing pay gaps.  LUCU will work to ensure that solving the pay gap problem at Lboro is high on her agenda.

Lboro University Council Elections

LUCU endorses the candidacy of Priti Meredith, who is standing for the role of non-academic member of University Council.

I have worked for five different Universities in the Midlands and in London since 2005. I joined the University in 2015 and currently work for the School of Science as a Development Manager in the Centre for Mathematical Cognition. I will take on a role in operations management this summer for a new, large-scale research centre in early mathematics learning.

Having worked for different Universities has enabled me to experience a range of organisational strategies, policies, and procedures. In addition, I am female and of Asian British Indian origin and a working mother. As a result, I feel that I would be able to make a unique and pragmatic contribution to Council. Furthermore, I am presently on maternity leave following the birth of my second daughter and becoming a member of Council would further contribute to my career development.

My experience overlaps with the remit of Council including advising in the development of strategy and vision and contributing to decision-making. In addition, I have worked collaboratively with colleagues to create risk strategies and helped identify and monitor Key Performance Indicators.

I have strong communication and presentation skills and regularly present to audiences, shaping my delivery to suit. Much of my career has involved encouraging academic colleagues to apply for external funding and I have a track record of achieving this successfully through my experience and ability to be honest and empathetic, which I feel are also important attributes for Council. I understand that good governance is critical to ensuring the organisation’s success and endeavours to make the most of available opportunities to move the organisation forward. I feel greatly enthused at the prospect of playing an active role in contributing to Council’s work and adding representation in terms of a professional staff member and one who is able to represent academic colleague’s views and experiences, thus bringing an exclusive and valuable insight –Priti Meredith

LUCU Committee

Extraordinary General Meeting – USS/FourFights

Extraordinary General Meeting – USS/FourFights

LUCU members are invited to attend an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the USS & Four Fights disputes on Friday 6th May at 1pm. The meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams. 

The Four Fights sector conference has voted to: 

•            call a marking and assessment boycott 

•            call 10 days of strike action 

•            keep the Four Fights and USS disputes, and action called in them, coupled

We have been asked by the UCU Higher Education committee to consult our members ahead of a branch delegates meeting on the 10th May and the HEC meeting later that week. A key question for consideration is:  

When does your branch believe would be the most effective start date for 10 days of strike action in your institution? 

A. Monday 6 June (this is the earliest possible date) 

B. Monday 13 June  

C. Other (please give more information – operational issues may make it impossible to accede to specific requests)  

The EGM offers members the opportunity to discuss how our branch can best manage the results of the HEC decisions and best manage the dispute at a local level.

The results of the Four Fights sector conference are available, and we should receive the results of the USS sector conference before our EGM so both can be discussed at the meeting. 

An agenda and minutes of our previous GM, a calendar invite and link to join have been emailed to all members.

LUCU Committee

A Letter To Our Members

A Letter To Our Members

Dear colleague

In support of our Union’s efforts to reverse brutal pension cuts and to improve pay and working conditions in the sector, we have been called out on strike for a further week (beginning next Monday, 21 March). No-one, to put it mildly, is rejoicing at the prospect. On the contrary, we know that many of you feel bruised by the action already taken and that you are dismayed at the request to strike again.

You may be in two minds about whether you participate in this latest action. We understand this deep unease: indeed, we share it. Notwithstanding this, it is vital that every member of Loughborough UCU answers this call to strike.

‘Going on strike again is unaffordable’

The idea of losing another week’s money is dispiriting. Few of us, despite our opponents’ spin, are wealthy enough to keep foregoing significant chunks of income. But while we appreciate that the thought of further salary loss will be giving you pause, we hope that it will not, in the end, prevent your involvement in the strike. And this for several reasons:

  1.  Presently, we are facing the loss of, at most, several thousand pounds for participating in strike action. This is hardly a trivial matter. However, if the horrifying pension cuts are not reversed, we face the loss of many tens, if not hundreds of thousands. The withdrawal of our labour will cost us plenty – but the failure of our campaign will cost us so much more.
  2. You may not be aware of the scale of financial support made available by UCU’s Fighting Fund – or you may be reluctant, given the level of your salary, to make a claim on it. However, the fund is there for all members who are experiencing significant financial pressures, and we encourage you to make use of it.
  3. Details of the strike pay scheme and how to apply can be found here. Basically, you can claim £50 a day if you earn more than £30k p.a., and £75 a day if your salary is lower. This is not fully compensatory, of course, but it represents not insignificant mitigation for financial loss.

‘Going on strike again is too disruptive to students’

All of us in student-facing roles – whether as lecturers or administrators, librarians or IT specialists – relish this work. All of us are dismayed at the thought of causing further disruption to students.

It is an unavoidable fact, however, that only by causing this disruption will the strike be successful (by prompting students in large enough numbers to contact the University’s managers and urge them to do so much more to help secure a fair hearing for the Union’s case, especially on pensions). A mass refusal to complete our PDRs will not jog the Vice-Chancellor’s elbow; failure to update Co-Tutor on time, or to submit that new bid for research funding, will not exert any pressure either.

We completely understand why, reluctant to cause further gaps in the education of students you like and value, some of you may be feeling that you cannot strike on the 21st. However, we ask you to pause and consider how a decision to work seriously diminishes the effectiveness of UCU’s action and brings our defeat that little bit closer. An alternative course of action, we propose, is to let your students know what you are planning to do (and why) and how they can help – and then to strike.

‘Going on strike again serves no strategic purpose’

There is certainly no expectation that your support for the Union should be uncritical. Questions can fairly be asked about the conduct of the ongoing industrial action, including about the latest plan to stagger strikes by institution across two weeks. However, without a rapid follow-up to the recent series of strike days, impetus for the struggle would be lost. University managers nationwide would relax. Effective strike action, by contrast, will ensure their continued attention. The Joint Negotiating Committee of USS meets on 29 March – and it is vital that its management representatives have very clear evidence, from a well-supported strike, of our determination and stamina in this fight.  

The Union is acting on the basis of a clear mandate supplied by members across the country (including – and by a significant majority – members at Loughborough). The campaign it is presently waging in our interests is crucial, perhaps even epochal. It requires – and deserves – our full participation.

To repeat: we understand and empathise with you if you feel disinclined to strike again. We acknowledge that what’s said above may not have changed your mind. For us on the Branch Committee, however, the situation is clear: to go on strike on the 21st will be difficult, but it is necessary. The campaign in defence of our pensions, in particular, cannot be allowed to fail – but it only has a chance of success if it is fully supported by all UCU members, including on this campus.

Thank you very much for your time.

LUCU Committee   

USS & Four Fights Strike Update – 15th March

USS & Four Fights Strike Update

Additional Strike Days Announced 

We will be taking an additional 5 days of strike action over USS & Four Fights from Monday 21st to Friday 25th March to put additional pressure on employers. Thank you to all our members who’ve been part of the action.

Picket Details

We will be picketing the gates of Loughborough University again from the 21st to 25th March. Picketing will start at 8am and conclude around 11am. Please let Marc Gibson know if you will be able to join the pickets.  

Re-balloting of Members 

Our current strike mandate runs out on the 3rd of May and the UCU HEC have decided to re-ballot all members at Loughborough (and the 148 other HEIs) on both Four Fights and USS to extend the strike mandate. The ballot will open on Wednesday 16th March. Please check your postal details are correct on MyUCU now, and please look out for your ballot pack arriving in the post. It should contain 2 ballots, one for USS and one for Four Fights. Please complete both and return as soon as possible. The ballot period will close on Friday 8th April.  

USS Legal Action – Crowdfunding Appeal 

This is a joint effort from many university branches who believe in fair pensions and a living planet. Its organising group includes Dr Neil Davies, Bristol UCU, and Dr Ewan McGaughey, KCL UCU and the below is taken from their latest update.

We wanted to update you about the legal action against the USS directors over cuts to our pensions and management of the USS. As you may have heard, we won our first oral hearing, and now we need to raise more to cover costs for the next on 28 March. 

If you can donate it will make a huge difference. The current pensions cuts leave many of us £100,000’s worse off in retirement (see modeller). If we win, we could get an injunction against the cuts that will happen on 1 April. We have 3 weeks to save the pension, so please donate now, and share with everyone you know!  

Legal case progress to now – In August last year, we raised £50,000 to start legal action against the USS directors. Many thanks to the over 1700 people who contributed. These donations paid for our legal team to develop our claim, which we submitted last Autumn. On the 28th of February, our barrister presented the case at an initial hearing at the High Court judge and requested permission to proceed to the next stage – a full contested hearing. We were successful, and the judge recognised the urgency of our claim and granted us a contested hearing on the 28th of March. He ruled that we have a prima facie case and that we were acting in good faith. If we are successful at the next hearing, we will be able to proceed with the legal action against the directors, which may be paid for by USS Limited (the company that runs our pensions). We have four claims: 

  • That the 2020 valuation was flawed and unnecessary 
  • USS costs are excessive 
  • The changes discriminate against women, younger and minority colleagues  
  • The USS has failed to have a credible plan to divest from fossil fuels, and this causes significant financial detriment 

Crowdfunding – However, to proceed with the next hearing, we urgently need to raise more money to cover the legal costs of the full hearing. So we would be very grateful if you could contribute to our crowdfund. Time is short, so if you could donate here asap – we would greatly appreciate it! If there is any money remaining in the crowdfund after the legal action is complete, we will use it for further legal action over the USS, for example, seeking judicial review of The Pensions Regulator. If there are no further legal options, or we get everything we want (a reasonable valuation, a cost-effective pension scheme, a pensions proposal that is not discriminatory, and divestment from fossil fuels), then we will donate any remaining funds to a charity.  

LUCU Committee 

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 Strike Bulletin – 10 February 2022

LUCU Strike Bulletin – 10 February 2022

Call for pickets

We are asking you to come forwards to help the branch mount pickets across all gates of the University during the strike. Please contact Marc Gibson M.A.Gibson@lboro.ac.uk

Deductions

The branch understands that deductions for the forthcoming strikes will again be staggered in March and April and is a token of the good relations that continue here between the branch and LU’s senior managers, for which we continue to be grateful.

Out of Office Message

Please find a suggested Out Of Office Message that you may adopt or use as the basis of your own message during strike action:

I am taking part in the UCU industrial action to protect pensions, and to end gender, race and disability pay gaps, precarious employment contracts and excessive workloads. During the strike period beginning 14th February, I will not be answering emails.  

If you are a student and need to discuss a wellbeing issue, please contact: <insert details here>  

If you would like further information about the reasons for the UCU industrial action, you can follow these links:  here, or here.  

Your closing address
Your name

Information for students

It is important to keep students as ‘on side’ as possible, and, while members are not obliged to declare strike action in advance, in keeping with the spirit of ‘good will’ shown by management in staggering deductions, we invite members to inform students and colleagues that you will not be teaching/keeping your appointments.  Here is a suggested template that you may adapt for use with your students, either in an email or on your LEARN pages (you may wish to put in figures that reflect your own prospective losses):

Dear <name>

You may be aware that the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers and professional services staff such as librarians and IT specialists, has called a strike beginning on Monday, 14 February and extending in its first phase until Tuesday 22 February (inclusive). 

As a member of the union, I am writing to let you know that I will be observing this strike. This means that none of my teaching on those days will take place. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I believe it necessary to take strike action, and would appreciate it if you can take a moment to consider my message. 

The first and most important reason staff are striking is to resist drastic cuts proposed to their pensions.  Depending on their age, lecturers stand to lose between 25% and 35% of their income in retirement. Personally, I face losing 27% of my pension, INSERT YOUR OWN FIGURE HERE IF YOU WISH and this level of financial loss would result in unsustainable damage to my living standards in retirement. These cuts are based on a flawed model of what the pension scheme is worth and how it is likely to perform in future.  UCU has tabled alternative, workable proposals for the pension scheme that, at present, employers are refusing to engage with. Loughborough University’s management agrees with the union that the valuation of the pension scheme is problematic; however, this issue cannot be solved at a local level. Therefore, the union has called national strike action in order to exert pressure on university employers to negotiate in good faith and to find a fair solution.

The second reason for taking strike action is what UCU calls the ‘Four Fights’ (addressing major problems in the university sector of falling pay, excessive workload, inequality, and insecure employment contracts).

Taking strike action is a very difficult thing to do and something we consider only as a last resort. For one thing, our pay is deducted when we are on strike. But it is also difficult because we want to be doing our jobs, the most important and enjoyable part of which is giving students the best possible learning experience. I know that having your teaching cancelled will cause you disappointment and frustration, but I hope that you can understand my reasons for taking strike action, even if you may not agree with them.

If you would like to learn more about the industrial action, please take a look at this video which has been made by a Loughborough lecturer, and which has been shared with LSU for circulation to their members.

Your sincerely