UCU Pay and Conditions Re-Ballot

UCU Pay and Conditions Re-Ballot

This is a gentle reminder to please exercise your democratic right to shape the union’s strategy with regard to achieving better pay and working conditions for members by voting in the current re-ballot.

You should have received your paper ballot in the post already, but if you have not received one, you may request a replacement ballot, here.

For your vote to count, your voting paper must be received by Civica Election Services no later than 5pm on Friday 3 November 2023.

Thank you,

LUCU Committee

LUCU News: June 2023

LUCU News: June 2023

Please read below for updates on LU General Assembly, MAB Support, Dispute Issues (Four Fights), our new Branch Equality Officer, our Congress Motion, Social Sciences Senate Elections & a BAME Staff Research Study.

General Assembly

Following our members’ requests for a General Assembly, we submitted a formal request to the Vice-Chancellor. A special meeting of General Assembly will take place at 3.30pm on Friday 16 June in the Edward Herbert Building 110A. The meeting is in-person only for staff based at Lboro campus. Only colleagues from London will be able to access the meeting online. Room LDN.3.23 has been booked by the University for colleagues in London.

This General Assembly was called for by our members and we urge you to attend. This is your opportunity to voice your views on the university’s response to the Marking and Assessment Boycott.

General Assembly is a collective staff forum established under the University’s Royal Charter. Its role is set out in Statute XV. All University staff are members of the General Assembly, so please encourage non-UCU members to attend as well.  Link to announcement on LU website.

Reminders: MAB support

We remind members that we have a weekly drop-in meeting every Wednesday – 2-3 pm – to support those who are participating in MAB and to answer any questions you may have. Please email the branch if you need the link to join.

The LUCU branch WhatsApp group is also a good source of support. If you haven’t already joined and would like to, you can do so by emailing the branch for a link. You can also speak to your department rep or email ucu@lboro.ac.uk should you need support.

To help the LUCU Committee build a picture of marking activity across campus, we would be grateful if you would email us with any information you have of unqualified markers appointed to cover marking at UG and PGT levels not completed as a result of the MAB, any instances where marks have not been properly moderated by a person qualified to do so, and any mitigations put in place that in your academic opinion are inappropriate.  Please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk providing details of: School, module, and reasons for believing either that the marker is unqualified, the moderation is lacking or undertaken by an unqualified marker, or the mitigation is inappropriate.   

Update on dispute issues: Workload; Casualisation; Equality

Workload: We now have a place on both the Project Enable and Project Expectation steering groups, enabling us to be at the centre of discussions on working practices in the interests of improving our members’ workloads.

Casualisation: We raised the need for revision of the LU Casual Staff Charter, created by the Task & Finish working group following our 2018 action.  Concerns over inconsistent implementation across Schools and sections was also raised with senior management, and agreement for a revision of the principles and a review of existing contracts across campus was reached.  Work on this is already well under way and we will provide an update on the outcomes in our next newsletter.

Equality: Agreement has been reached for union representation on the new EDI Operations board.  Our place on this board will rotate with Unite and Unison and we will work collaboratively towards equity for our members. We are also delighted to have appointed Ellen Nicholls as our Equality Rep – welcome Ellen!

Introducing our new branch Equality Officer

Ellen Nicholls was recently appointed by the Committee to serve out the rest of the 22/23 term as our branch Equality Officer. 

Ellen Nicholls, Careers Network. I am the Academic Success Co-Ordinator for the Student Success Academy (Careers Network) and I have worked at the University since 2021. Following the completion of my PhD research in 2019, I began working in widening participation, harnessing my passion for social justice by working to ensure all students have equal opportunities to succeed while studying at university. My work here at Loughborough centres on providing 1:1 academic success coaching and designing learning initiatives that help to reduce awarding gaps for Black, Asian, and low-household income students, in accordance with access and participation plan targets. As the equality officer for LUCU, it is my ambition to extend this EDI work to our staff, working towards gender and ethnicity pay equity for our members at the University.

2023 Glasgow Congress: LUCU Motion ‘UCU to move from Equality to Equity’

Our branch submitted and spoke to a motion to urge UCU to move toward the principles of Equity and implement use of the term Equity over Equality.  As you can see here, an amendment to the motion was put forward, and following debate Congress voted to remit the motion with an agreement to take it to the LGBTQ+ Conference in Birmingham in November this year. Two members of the LUCU Committee will attend the conference and any other members who wish to join them are very welcome. To register your interest, please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk and we will inform you when registration is live.

You can find the full results of voting on motions here.

Social Sciences Senate Elections

There are currently two vacancies on Senate, from 1st August 2023, for members of academic staff in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Voting is open to all academic staff in SSH and you should have received an email with a link to vote: we encourage you to use this.

The LUCU Committee is promoting the candidacy of three of our members who are in the running for these positions. Please consider voting for Dr Giulia Piccolino, Dr Sarah Parker and Dr Paul Maddrell (in any order you choose) for your first three preference votes. Their candidate statements are available on the link to vote. If you have not yet voted, please check your email and look for “Subject: Ballot Notice: Senate Election for Academic Members of Staff in SSH”. The ballot is now open and will close on Thursday 22 June.

Call for Participants: Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Staff Research Study

Are you a BAME (Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic) staff member who would like to get involved in a research study?

One of our PhD researchers here at Loughborough University is conducting a study which seeks to examine BAME employees’ lived experiences of racial diversity management policies and practices. This research will seek to understand the impact diversity management practices have on BAME employees as well as the contexts that account for employees’ experiences of such policies/practices.

To find out more about how to get involved, please click here.

LUCU Committee

Tripartite statement regarding industrial disputes

Tripartite statement regarding industrial disputes

24 March 2023

Loughborough University, Loughborough UCU and Loughborough Students’ Union have been meeting regularly during the current industrial disputes to explore what is at issue and to consider how progress might be made.

While our perspectives are diverse, the collaborative way of working that we have developed has enabled us to address effectively and constructively those issues which have a local dimension. We have also discussed what is at stake nationally.

Our position on the several strands of the disputes is summarised here:

  • PensionsWe believe that an evidence-based valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) should be completed as soon as possible. This assessment of the scheme’s assets and liabilities, and its future performance, should be ‘moderately prudent’. Any positive adjustments resulting from this new valuation should prioritise the improvement of members’ benefits over reductions to employer /employee contribution rates from their current levels. We welcome the recent developments in relation to this.
  • Pay. We acknowledge that this is the most challenging of the current issues. The regulated undergraduate student fee that is universities’ most significant income stream has barely changed in a decade – and it remains frozen during this period of high inflation when institutions’ costs, such as energy, have increased sharply. The income of university staff has lagged similarly in this time, with a series of below-inflation pay awards – and current high prices are undoubtedly having a significant impact on staff, too. While the 2023 pay award has been implemented, we remain mindful of staff’s situation. We also join other voices in encouraging a longer-term review of the university funding model (a review that should be creative and not focus only on raising students’ fees).
  • Working conditions (pay inequality, casualisation, workload)We recognise that addressing these questions is crucial to the well-being and sustainability of the sector. Universities must offer a fair, decent and healthy working environment to all. At Loughborough, while further work remains to be done, good progress is being made on these fronts – and we encourage employers and unions at all HE institutions to tackle pay gaps, casualised contracts and high workloads in a similar spirit of partnership.

We do not underestimate the complexities of these multiple issues and the challenges involved in finding fair outcomes. However, it is crucial that lasting resolutions are achieved, so as to prevent further disruption to the lives of both staff and students.

We strongly encourage all those involved in the disputes to continue working toward our shared goal: student and staff satisfaction in a Higher Education sector fit for everyone.

Loughborough University
Loughborough UCU
Loughborough Students’ Union  

Updates on Industrial Action & MAB Training

Updates on Industrial Action & MAB Training

LUCU General Meeting & UCU Branch Delegates Meeting (BDM) Results

The results of the voting at our branch meeting combined with email responses were as follows (abstentions mean the results do not add up to 100%):

Escalating strike action – 67%MAB Jan 2023 – 35%Immediate Re-ballot Yes – 76%
Indefinite strike action – 13%MAB April 2023 – 42%Immediate Re-ballot No – 6%

At the Branch Delegates Meeting, our branch delegates cast LUCU’s votes as follows: for escalating strike action, for MAB April and for re ballot. The voting at the BDM was in line with LUCU voting and the results have now been released:

Escalating strike action – 57%MAB Jan 2023 – 26%Immediate Re-ballot Yes – 91%
Indefinite strike action – 31%MAB April 2023 – 56%Immediate Re-ballot No – 4%

Full question/answer text and results of the BDM can be found here.

The next steps are for the results from the BDM to go to the HEC on Thursday for consideration with the aim of a clear outcome from HEC on our next steps in the dispute. We will let you know as soon as we have the outcome.

Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) Training

We strongly encourage members to attend one of the two upcoming sessions on Marking and Assessment Boycott training. Please pre-register for one of the following 90 minute online training sessions held later today and Friday:

  • Session 1 – Wednesday 11 January – 16:00 to 17:30 – Register here
  • Session 2 – Friday 13 January – 10:00 to 11:30 – Register here

LUCU Committee

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