UCU National are requesting volunteers to help message members at branches that did not make the threshold. The request is for people to use the ThruText system to help with get the vote out (GTVO). This is a really simple tool to use and can be accessed from most web browsers. If anyone is interested in taking part and helping branches across the country to achieve the ballot threshold please fill in your details here and the campaigns team will be in touch.
Helping the LUCU to help you We used the ThruText system at Loughborough in the last ballot window and it was very effective. With further re-ballots looking likely, please do log onto MyUCU and check that both your contact details and employment details are up to date. We would like to encourage more of our members to list a mobile phone number on MyUCU for use in future ballots.
We are very grateful to our Reps and members who volunteered their time to get the vote out! And thanks to all our members who endured with such good grace the many communications about returning your ballots. We are quietly confident that we are over the 50% threshold, and we will be writing to you again next week with the formal results for each ballot.
How You Can Help Build Support
Members have produced the following graphics that explain succinctly what is at stake regarding USS, workload, pay, and casualisation. We would appreciate members using the graphic as an email footer, sharing it on social media, and/or printing and displaying it on their office doors.
We can confirm that the agreement reached with management last year following the dispute process remains in place. The dispute resolution process comprises a pro-active response from SMTs. Managers are asked to identify as early as possible staff who may be concerned about providing in-person teaching. Requests to teach online rather than in-person should be treated sympathetically, and HR business partners are available to assist in determining what action is most appropriate to help staff, without necessarily triggering an OH consultation.
The resolution process has been very successful, but we continue to hear of a few isolated cases across campus where members are being unduly pressured to teach in-person. These individuals are being supported by our caseworkers. If you are facing pressure to teach in-person, please let us know at UCU@lboro.ac.uk, or contact our Casework Coordinator Andrew Dix – A.firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will raise the case as a matter of urgency with HR.
Health and Safety on Campus
We continue to meet regularly with management to monitor how the University is responding to the pandemic and the health and safety measures it is putting in place to protect staff and students. We are hearing reports from members who are increasingly concerned about people not wearing masks while moving around buildings or in teaching spaces, students being unresponsive when asked to wear masks in teaching spaces, students complaining about requests to wear masks, overcrowding in some hallways and teaching spaces, and requests to work on campus when people could perform their duties from home.
We have lobbied management to implement the following:
To make mask-wearing mandatory as it is within their legal right to do;
To make public ventilation figures for every teaching space;
To provide CO2 monitors in shared enclosed spaces, including teaching rooms;
To allow home-working wherever possible (following SAGE guidance).
To be fair and transparent, we have offered management the opportunity to explain to members their reasons for declining these requests, and you will find their response attached to this newsletter.
LUCU will continue to lobby management to agree to the above requests, because we believe that decisions should be based on scientific guidance rather than government guidance where the two may be in conflict, and our Health and Safety Officers believe the above measures would result in a safer campus environment. Further, in relation to mask-wearing, we do not agree that it is appropriate to place the burden of enforcement on staff. We would like the University to resource a plan for enforcement as they did last year.
We will also lobby management to provide appropriate support for staff whose requests for students to wear masks is being ignored and work to ensure that our members experience no detriment due to student complaints about reasonable requests to wear masks. Please let us know if you have any concerns about Covid safety measures, especially concerning mask-wearing, in your work area: UCU@lboro.ac.uk.
We are writing about the email
sent by the Vice Chancellor on Wednesday 13 November regarding the strike.
The VC is quite right that he
engaged with staff, and that he has made a public call for limiting employee
contributions to 9.1%. Most Vice Chancellors have not done this and we
appreciate the VC has made himself unpopular with some of them. Further, we
acknowledge the frustration for our VC that some of the universities where the
ballot turnout did not exceed the 50% threshold have less proactive, less
sympathetic Vice Chancellors. Moreover we take his expressed concerns about the
financial implications of increased contributions by the university seriously
and in good faith.
However UCU’s position is that no
one, not employees and not employers, need have their contributions increased.
Rather at the root of the dispute is the valuation method. The debate is not
“who should fund the increases” but whether or not increases are
The resolution to the 2018 strikes
came from the establishment of a UUK/UCU Joint Expert Panel, which was tasked
with reviewing the valuation method and proposing a way forward. If the
methodology recommended by the Joint Expert Panel in their first report had
been implemented, then neither employer nor employee contributions would be
A couple of other points. The VC’s
email mentioned that “employees currently contribute 9.6% of salary” but we
highlight that this is only true since 1st October 2019. It was 8% before last
year’s strike, then went to 8.8% and now has gone up to 9.6%. The email also
noted that the USS Trustee includes UCU representatives but two clarifications
are in order. First, UCU has nominees not representatives: these nominees are
legally independent of UCU, and their actions are not controlled by UCU.
Second, in recent weeks one of the UCU nominees, Professor Jane Hutton, was
dismissed by USS after raising concerns about their valuation method.
we note that our VC is in engaging in meaningful discussion with LUCU committee
and is making constructive proposals about how we might resolve the situation.
We are grateful to have such a proactive and sympathetic Vice Chancellor at
Loughborough who engages meaningfully with the branch and we do not take this
for granted. We will be in touch again to canvas members’ views on the options
as we see them.
The branch think it important that staff who are considering strike action understand what is legally required and understand the guidance being issued in relation to both the proposed strike action between Nov 25th and Dec 4th and action short of a strike that will continue thereafter.
We believe some managers are making suggestions which are not in keeping with current guidance.
You are not required to give of strike action to management, or to students – although when asked afterwards if you did take strike action, you are required to provide this information.
It is recommended that colleagues give notice on the morning of the strike that they will be absent, as they would if they were going to be absent due to sickness. This is the case whether it involves lectures, seminars, or project supervision. This gives managers the same time frame to notify students of changes. Even though, again, there is no need to do so.
The branch is concerned that some of recommendations from some managers are asking to ensure the ‘smooth running of the programmes’ after December 4th is a request to ignore the action short of strike, thus to act to minimise disruption lessens and undermines the impact of the strike itself.