A warm welcome to the branch committee for Denise Coles

A warm welcome to the branch committee for Denise Coles

We are very happy to announce a new committee member has joined our ranks. Welcome to Denise Coles who has been co-opted onto the committee as an “ordinary committee member” for the remainder of this term of office. Denise will bring a wealth of experience to the committee, particularly through her EDI experience, and we are very excited to have her onboard.

Denise Coles (LUCU Committee Member)

My Name is Denise Coles and I’m the university’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager.  I joined the university nearly two years ago.  My role sits within the newly established EDI Service.  A significant part of my job involves challenging oppressive system and offering support and advice on how to make policies, processes and practice more equitable for our University Community.   I was delighted to be asked to join the branch committee and offering EDI advice where I can.

We continue to work on increasing branch committee membership.  If you have an interest in getting involved in the work of the branch, please get in touch with our Branch Organiser, Callum Salfield, for an informal chat.

Reps’ Team – Two new Reps and a returning Rep

Reps’ Team – Two new Reps and a returning Rep

We are very pleased to announce two new department reps and welcome back a former department rep to the branch team. Mark Leaper has taken on the role of department rep for Chemical Engineering and Materials in the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering.

In the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Siân Adiseshiah has returned to her previous role of department rep for English on a temporary basis, and we welcome members to come forward as a permanent rep for English from the start of August. Many thanks go to Barbara Cooke for her work in the role over the last year.

We are also delighted to welcome Hilary Robinson to the role of department rep in International Relations, Politics and History. Thanks go to Magnus Hamann for covering the role while the department was without a rep. We know these reps will do a great job in representing members in their departments.

Dr Mark Leaper (Rep for Chemical Engineering & Materials Departments in the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering)

I’m Dr Mark Leaper and I’ve been a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering/AACME for 8 years at Loughborough, having seen quite a few changes to the University. I have been invited become the rep for Chemical Engineering and Materials for Loughborough UCU and hope that this will allow my colleagues to experience the full benefits of union membership.

Professor Hilary Robinson (Rep for International Relations, Politics and History in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities)

I joined Loughborough 2017 as Professor of Feminism, Art and History, in the old School of Arts, English and Drama; since its split, I’ve been in International Relations, Politics and History, in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. I and describe myself as a recovering Dean, positions I held at Carnegie Mellon (USA), and at Middlesex. Before those posts I worked at U. Ulster; and before that in a number of precarious positions at different places. I was first involved in Union work in the 1970s, helping set up a branch of the T&GW at a bookshop where I worked for 18 months before being the first in my family to go to university. I am interested in all forms of real, intersectional, access and equity; and hold that this does not mean trying to get people to assimilate into institutions, but shifting the structures of power that kept some people out in the first place.

A few vacancies remain in our reps’ team!  At the time of writing and in addition to the role in English, our two other vacant roles are both in the School of Science, in the departments of Computer Science and Chemistry. If you have any interest in taking one of the vacant roles, please get in touch with our Branch Organiser, Callum Salfield, for an informal chat about what’s involved and how you can support members in your area. For an up-to-date list of our reps, please see this page of our website.

Car Parking Update

Car Parking Update

At the recent Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC), the three unions raised the issue of Car Parking under the new parking scheme.  Specific concerns were raised on behalf of members using Creative Arts and East Park car parks who were regularly unable to park close to their place of work.  In recognition of the issues, management agreed to create staff only parking areas and install barriers to check for bona fide visitors in these areas.  Monitoring of car parking more generally will continue, and we would welcome reports from members of any difficulties.

Outcomes of Motions not heard at GM in March

Outcomes of Motions not heard at GM in March

Our Branch General Meeting on 8th March was unfortunately just shy of being quorate; this meant that the submitted motions could not be heard or voted on. In these circumstances, our branch rules dictate that the motions will instead go to the next Branch Committee Meeting.

Motion to Congress

Rule change motion: The prioritisation of motions at Congress: As this could not be heard at the GM, we had missed the deadline for submission to UCU Congress 2024. This motion may be submitted to the next UCU Congress.

Motions to Branch

Support for International Scholars-at-Risk: This motion was passed.

LUCU to Support Palestinian Human Rights: This motion was not passed.

Motions withdrawn by proposers

Uphold rights and freedoms for all Loughborough Staff and Students.

LUCU to support colleagues impacted by the conflict between Israel and Gaza and to play a constructive role in responding to the conflict.

UKRI and Voluntary Positions Update

UKRI and Voluntary Positions Update

Following member enquiries for an update on UCUs November 2023 call for all UCU members with voluntary positions with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to resign from these roles, the investigation has concluded, and the academics at the centre of unfounded attacks by Michelle Donelan have now been fully exonerated. UCU will continue to put pressure on UKRI and other organisations to resist ministerial interference and improve protections for academics supporting its work, but there is no ongoing call on UCU members to withdraw from voluntary roles at UKRI.

UCU fights and wins on an extension to USS early retirement factor change

UCU fights and wins on an extension to USS early retirement factor change

The UCU Superannuation Working Group (SWG) have been engaged with USS since January 2024 regarding proposed changes to the Early Retirement Factors from 01 April 2024. Early Retirement Factors are the percentage reduction applied to a member’s pension if they retire before their Normal Pension Age (NPA). The further you are from NPA, the larger the reduction.

However, changes proposed from 01 April 2024, if implemented, would have meant a significant difference in pension entitlement between members retiring on 31 March 2024 and from 01 April 2024 onwards. Along with UUK, the SWG Negotiators met USS on a number of occasions to seek a delay to the implementation date. As per this linked USS communication, this change has now been delayed to 01 October 2024.

This delay is very much welcome and will give members considering Early Retirement the time to look at the finances of such a decision, engage their families, engage employers, and take independent financial advice. But 6-months is not long.

Given this, UCU would advise any member who is considering seeking early retirement in the next 12/18 months to take steps immediately to assess their options. It may well be that remaining in employment is the best option, but members should seriously consider all options now.

Financial Information can be obtained from Annual Pension Statements and the MyUSS portal on the USS website. We would encourage members considering early retirement to speak with family and employers now. For those members who see Early Retirement as a real option before 01 October 2024, we would suggest that members engage USS for necessary financial information before seeking independent financial advice. Members should note that UCU has a partnership arrangement with Quilter Financial –  UCU – Financial advice from Quilter Financial Advisers – who may be able to assist.

While SWG are unable to stop the changes to Early Retirement Factors, this delay is significant as it provides members the time needed to consider all options and take advice. And while they will be continuing to meet USS on Early Retirement Factors going forward, they urge members considering Early Retirement to use this time well.

We urge you to complete the USS Pensions Survey

We urge you to complete the USS Pensions Survey

You (USS members) should have received a survey link via email from USS. We encourage you to complete this survey to get UCU member voices heard. The survey will take around 10 minutes to complete but we feel this time will be worthwhile for the following reasons:

  • You will be asked for your views on sustainable investment. Pension funds can only legally decide to opt for a sustainable investment strategy (divestment from fossil fuels etc) if they have evidence that their members want that to happen. USS have never done an explicit survey on this, so surveys like this one are the best opportunity people have to express that view.
  • You will be asked to comment on your “overall relationship” with USS. This question’s results will be reported in the USS annual report, which will expose the feelings of its members to a wide audience.  

Further action you can take towards ethical investment

Most USS members now have a Defined Contribution (DC) pot (the bit USS calls the “investment builder”) because of the 2020-2022 cut to the Defined Benefit (DB) cap. Individuals can choose to have this pot invested normally or invested ethically by logging to the USS portal. Most people don’t know this and therefore leave it with the default (not ethical) option. USS takes this as evidence that members aren’t so bothered about climate change and therefore as a reason not to change investment strategy for the (massively larger) DB section of their investments. So, if you wish to influence USS ethical investment you can opt in to the “ethical lifestyle” investment option.

LUCU Committee

Car Parking Issues

Car Parking Issues

Parking overcharges

We would advise all members to check their parking charges as members have reported being overcharged under the new parking system.  These issues have been resolved by the car parking company APCOA and refunds made.  Please use the tariff found here to check your charges and let the branch know if this issue has affected you by emailing ucu@lboro.ac.uk.

Insufficient parking for staff

We are aware that it has become increasingly difficult to find car parking spaces with some members reporting a 20 minute drive to find a space, followed by a 20 minute walk to be reach their destination. This issue has arisen since the public gained access to university parking.

Next steps

The branch has added ‘Car Parking’ to the next Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) meeting agenda (24th April) where senior management issues raised by our members will be discussed and improvement the parking provision for staff agreed. If you have had any issues with car parking, please provide examples to the branch by emailing ucu@lboro.ac.uk.

LUCU General Meeting Report

LUCU General Meeting Report

Unfortunately, the General Meeting held on Friday 8th March was just shy of being quorate, this means no official business could be voted on. However, Mary Brewer presented the Chair’s Report of LUCU activity since our November GM, including announcement of new Department Reps in English, IRPH, Chemical Engineering and Materials, an increase in our local membership numbers, and details of recent local wins from our negotiators. David Wilson gave an update on the University’s Saudi Arabia Proposal, took questions from the floor and led a discussion on how to move forward with a campaign in opposition to the proposal.

The motions submitted will now be considered at the next branch committee meeting as per branch rules and we will update members on the outcomes in due course.