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

LUCU EGM – USS & Four Fights

LUCU Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) for all members.

Members, please see your email for more details and supporting documents.

This meeting is scheduled to be held online.

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 Emergency General Meeting

The branch committee have called an Emergency General Meeting for 11am on Wednesday 16th February. The meeting will be held both in-person and on-line. In-person venue to be confirmed ASAP.

Paul Bridge, UCU National Negotiator, plans to attend to give an update on the disputes.

The committee have raised a motion regarding the strike fund to be put before the branch at the EGM.

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  

LUCU Extraodinary General Meeting – USS & FourFights

LUCU Extraordinary General Meeting for all members.

The topics of the meeting are USS and Four Fights and an agenda and link to join have been provided to all LUCU members by email.

This meeting is scheduled to be held online.