LUCU News: August 2022
Featuring news of the USS Governance Review, Covid-19, current campaigns and negotiations
USS Governance Review
We are pleased to report that LUCU has been consulted by the University on the UUK-initiated review of USS governance. LUCU argued for early clarification of the review’s purpose; evaluation of the governing board’s composition and member competencies; formulation of clearer processes for recruiting and removing board members; assessment of the role of the ‘independent’ chair; channels for feedback from the scheme’s members, as well as employers, on reforms; better and more timely communication with members; and – crucially – the devising of a valuation process that is fit for purpose. We are pleased to report that these suggestions form part of the University’s response to the consultation.
Further, management confirms that they stand by the terms of our joint statement on USS, specifically regarding benefit restoration as preferential to lower contributions. Sadly, this remains a minority position among SMTs across the sector, but Lboro SMT continues to lobby behind the scenes to increase support, and a member of SMT will be standing for a position on the USS Employer Liaison Group, which will offer a wider platform for influence. The possibility of another joint LUCU-SMT statement remains an option as the review and the pensions campaign progress.
Throughout Covid, LUCU has been campaigning for every protection possible for members, other staff, and students. Unfortunately, as precautions in wider society have been relaxed, we have found it harder to keep protections in place on campus. The University’s view is that if the precaution has been removed in the country at large (e.g. face coverings), then it cannot be imposed on campus. LUCU disagrees: we believe that we can continue to ask staff, students and visitors to take additional measures in the interests of public health.
All lecture spaces should have presenter positions that provide a natural separation from the other room occupants (usually 2 metres or more; where it is less than 2 metres, additional protections such as Perspex screens are available). This, coupled with the improved ventilation and CO2 monitors, means that teaching spaces should have a high level of protection from the risks of Covid. All teaching spaces should also have printed details at the presenter location of the room’s ventilation arrangements. If you find yourself in any locations where the information given is clearly incorrect (e.g. stating that windows should be opened where this is not possible), please get in touch with either the University’s Health and Safety department or with LUCU.
Where staff are concerned about additional risks (e.g. close working with students, visitors or other colleagues), then the University can provide FFP2 masks. These protect both the wearer and those around them. If you are interested in obtaining an FFP2 mask, please speak to your line manager in the first instance. LUCU recommends that FFP2 mask wearers undergo a Face Fit Test to ensure the mask is providing a high level of protection.
Lateral flow tests
The University has supplies of lateral flow tests and will continue to make these available to staff and students while stocks last. You may request LFTs here: You will be sent a QR code, and the tests can be collected from the Wavy Top building (at the rear near the steps leading to EHB) on presentation of your QR code or staff ID on Monday, Wednesday or Friday at either 11am or 2pm. This arrangement will be reviewed at the end of October. Please continue to inform the University about a positive result, through the Connect and Protect service here.
At the start of term, students will be encouraged to test but will not be required to show proof of a negative result before coming on to campus. LFTs will be made available to all students on arrival, and through the scheme above for students who wish to test. LUCU believes that the University should test students on arrival, but management will not agree.
Should the rate and severity of Covid infections increase to the point of posing a significant threat to staff, students and visitors, management has plans to reapply proportionately the precautions developed over the last few years. The University will also be purchasing a limited supply of flu vaccinations, to be made available to staff later in the year; please look out for details on the University’s news channels.
If anyone has specific concerns about Covid, Neil Budworth (Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing) has offered to discuss these directly with staff: N.Budworth@lboro.ac.uk. LUCU is also happy to raise your concerns: please contact Alec Edworthy, our Health and Safety Officer, at A.Edworthy@lboro.ac.uk.
On 10 August, UCU launched UCU Rising, which follows on from the USS and Four Fights campaigns. This initiative focuses on the connection between pay, casualisation, workload, and USS pension cuts. Further details may be found here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs.
All universities are to be balloted from the end of August on ASOS and strike action, and the results will be aggregated: therefore, any university where more than 50% of UCU members participate in the ballot and deliver a yes vote will be able to join the action.
The decision to ballot at this time was made by HEC in June, following a branch delegates’ meeting, at which LUCU was represented. However, the timing is not in line with the voting preferences expressed by delegates: a minority wanted an immediate summer ballot, but a majority favoured a later ballot to allow for recovery from previous actions and to enable branches to build support for further campaigning.
Branch officers will be attending a meeting chaired by Jon Hegerty, UCU Head of Bargaining, Organising, Campaigns and Education, on 17 August. This will offer an opportunity to ask questions about the rationale for an August ballot and other issues raised at the branch delegates’ meeting in June. We will organise an EGM once we know when the ballot will open.
Help up grow the branch!
We would appreciate members sharing the following social media recruitment posts via Facebook and Twitter. Due to the nature of social network algorithms, and with many of you being connected to other colleagues via these platforms, if members share these posts, they are more likely to be seen by colleagues who are not yet UCU members. The bigger our branch the stronger our position to negotiate better terms and conditions for all staff!
Facebook post – please share
Twitter post – please retweet
Negotiations with management on parking charges has resulted in a fairer system, especially for those on lower pay. One sticking point remains, however: whether visitors will be charged. LUCU supports visitor charges as a way of raising income to subsidise further reductions in parking charges for the lowest paid and to encourage more environmentally friendly ways of travelling to campus. We can report that any new software system introduced will provide the University with the ability to charge visitors. While there is a general view that visitors should pay to park, this has not yet been translated into policy; therefore, we will raise the matter again at the September meeting of JNCC.
The branch is currently negotiating on behalf of members in SDCA to ensure that staff receive the appropriate pay for work being done as University Teachers, in line with the University’s own policy (see here). We have received broad agreement and co-operation from senior managers and are working to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of the members concerned.