LUCU News January 2023

LUCU News January 2023

Addressing UCU Rising and local negotiations & campaigns

UCU Rising: Update

At the January BDM, branch delegates fed back members’ views as expressed at our recent GM and via email, where a majority of LUCU members backed escalating strike action in semester two and a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) beginning in April.  Feedback from other branches and voting results at the BDM indicated that these views were also held by a majority of members across the union.  Accordingly, HEC voted to call for 18 days of strike action, with the first day of action on Wednesday, February 1st (future dates yet to be confirmed), and members will be re-balloted so that action can continue after the current mandate ends in March 2023, that is, should current negotiations not bring about a resolution to the disputes on pay, workload, casualisation and USS pensions. 

The branch committee is already mobilising for a re-ballot and planning for a MAB. Branch officers have undertaken training on MAB and will produce guidance that is specific to LUCU members in due course. 

Interestingly, new research by Loughborough’s Centre for Research into Social Policy underscores the need to continue the fight for restoration of our benefits, as inflation adds 20% to the cost of retirement, while UUK chooses to cut our pensions by c. 30%:

Our action has already resulted in positive movement on the pay front, with UCEA making an improved offer to UCU negotiators. However, negotiations on pay are ongoing, as the offer of a pay rise between 4-5% was not deemed sufficient considering the insufficient pay rises awarded over the last 10 years and current inflationary pressures.  Negotiations on workload and insecure contracts also continue at national level.

At local level, discussions continue with University SMT about workload, pay and pensions. The University remains committed to the position it set out in our joint statement on USS, which we were pleased to hear from the visiting speaker at our recent GM has proved helpful to other branches in moving their SMTs toward a public statement supportive of improved benefits, as well as to UCU’s national negotiators. We are currently exploring with management the idea of another joint statement addressing other issues in the dispute – workload, pay, precarious contracts.

We have had some promising discussions with senior leadership regarding workload. The matter was discussed at the Vice Chancellor’s Reports meeting on Monday 16 Jan, and it will be discussed in more detail at University Executive Board (formerly known as ALT) in early February. We have a meeting scheduled shortly after this and will provide an update in next month’s newsletter.

Tri-partite meetings involving LUCU, SMT and LSU also continue, which offers a valuable space for us to present our perspective on the disputes to student representatives.

Local Negotiations and Campaigns – Re-structures

We can also report that LUCU has been meaningfully consulted on a new restructure in IT Services, where we do not envisage any negative impact to members. However, we remain available to support any member affected by this restructure. Any member who would like a caseworker to attend meetings with them should contact their area Rep in the first instance.

The Enabling Programme:

The Enabling Programme – comprising six projects – has been established to collectively drive positive change in the areas of Loughborough’s reputation, digital capabilities, workplaces, compliance levels, processes/ways of working, and culture. Details of the projects and their aims can be found via the Organisational Development website. All six projects are now live, with Projects Enable, Workplace and Compliance being the most advanced.

LUCU is regularly consulted by management on programme developments as these initiatives impact on our working conditions, and we can raise issues of concern in our monthly meetings with SMT, as well as via JNCC and ARSNC.

We would like to update members on key examples of Project Enable’s success so far:

  • Changes to the ethics approval process: ethics applications made by UG and PGT students classified as low risk will be signed off by the supervisor without further review. This will remove over 1500 additional checks from the process each year.
  • Changes to assessing student placements, will save over 800 staff hours (academic and Professional Services), whilst it is estimated that the change to a greater number of online progress meetings will save over 4,500 hours per year.

Project Expectations’ workstreams have been defined, focusing on strategy engagement; leadership development; reward and recognition; internal communications; development and performance. The findings of the recent Staff Engagement Survey will also help to shape the project, and an independent review of the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Awards has commenced to inform enhancements for 2023. Projects Reputation and Digital have set up their governance and Programme Boards and have begun scoping the project workstreams.

If you have a question(s) about any of the projects, please feel free to contact the Enabling Programme Manager Meg Stafford, who is taking over from Jenna Townend. We would like to thank Jenna Townend for working so collegially with LUCU committee members on Project Enable.

Casual drop-in meetings; UCU annual meeting of staff on casual contracts

The first two drop-in meetings with our colleagues on casual contracts went really well. Attendees are steadily building a sense of community, and we were able to discuss their concerns at the meeting. We have since progressed some issues through our casework. We are happy to announce a third meeting on Friday 27th January at 2-3pm, which is open to all Lboro staff (UCU members and non-members) on these types of contracts. To get a link to join the meeting please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk and encourage folk to come along!

The annual UCU meeting of staff on casualised contracts takes place on Sat 25 Feb, online. If you are interested in being one of our Lboro UCU branch delegates for this meeting, please email the branch. More details can be found here.

Branch membership

After reaching a low point in October 2022, membership secretary Marc Gibson is very pleased to announce that branch membership has subsequently been rising, while we have also recruited 3 new area reps. As one of LUCU’s priorities this year is to ensure this upward trend continues, we’d like to ask you to consider adding one of the following logos into your email signature. Video instructions for adding signatures with logos to your email can be found here.

LUCU Committee

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

December 2022 Newsletter

December 2022 Newsletter

This month we report on industrial action, caseworker training, and local negotiations.

UCU Rising Update

We would like to thank members who took part in pickets at the Loughborough Midland and London campuses – the turnout was fantastic!  Our branch also made a good showing at the virtual picket, and members helped swell the numbers at the London Rally on 30 Nov.

We would like to remind members that Action Short of Strike – ASOS began on Wednesday 23 November and will continue until further notice.  ASOS entails:

  1. working to contract;
  2. not covering for absent colleagues;
  3. removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action;
  4. not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action;
  5. not undertaking any voluntary activities.

It can be difficult to ascertain the duties that fall under ASOS. If you are unsure whether a task is covered by ASOS, or if you feel that you are being pressured to undertake work that is covered by ASOS, please contact your area Rep – you can find their contact details here: https://tinyurl.com/3hw4h6sb

Casework training 

We reported in our last newsletter on the scale of personal casework undertaken in support of our members. Additional volunteers to join the casework team are always very welcome. If anyone is interested in taking on this role, then please come along to an online training session that will be delivered for the branch by UCU’s Regional Office from 2-5 pm on Tuesday 17 January. From past experience, this will be a friendly and supportive occasion; existing members of the casework team will also be attending. Anyone who would like to take part in the session should contact our Personal Casework Coordinator Andrew Dix (A.Dix@lboro.ac.uk) for further details. Andrew will also be happy to meet with anyone to discuss more generally the personal caseworker role. 

Local Negotiations

UCEA Consultation on Pay: As you may be aware from Jo Grady’s recent comms, the strikes have brought the employers back to the table to discuss pay and working conditions. Loughborough management recognizes the need to reward staff fairly for the University to retain and recruit staff.  We can report that management responded to the consultation carried out by UCEA in November in favour of bringing forward the March pay negotiation round.  This has been agreed by UCEA and the unions at a national level and negotiations regarding the 2023/24 pay round will commence in December with the aim of being concluded by the end of January. 

Working Group on Pay, Pensions and Workload: The new working group to explore how Loughborough University might address the issues at the heart of the industrial disputes held constructive meetings in November and December.  The first meeting refined the group’s objectives and scope, while the second meeting followed up on national developments and preliminary plans to make meaningful changes to local teaching loads and modelling good practice around evenings and weekends.  The group will meet monthly, and we will keep members informed on progress via the newsletter.

Review of Promotions Process and Criteria: As part of the consultation regarding the promotions process and criteria, LUCU recommended an additional focus group to capture the experience of colleagues with disabilities. The focus group has met, and the views expressed will inform the final draft documentation that will be submitted to for approval by Senate and Council. We would like to thank Lisanne Gibson (Dean SSH) and Chris Reily Dean (AACME) for working with us to facilitate this additional focus group.

Working with LSU:  We are pleased to report that the first meeting between LUCU, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) and University senior management will take place in January.  We look forward to working collaboratively with student union Reps alongside management to progress matters of common interest.

Health and Safety – Rest Breaks:  We raised the issue of back-to-back Teams’ meetings with management following reports from members of difficulties experienced after spending too much time in front of a screen without a break.  We would like to thank management for actioning a change to Outlook so that meetings are scheduled by default for 25 or 50 minutes.  This cannot be automated across all computers, so staff are advised set up their own Outlook accounts if they wish meetings to follow this pattern.

Instructions below:

Open Outlook and go to the “File” tab at the top of the page and select “Options” at the bottom on the left-hand side

Click on “Calendar”

Put a tick in the box next to “Shorten Meetings and Appointments”.

Select “End Early” in the drop-down list next to this

Next to “Less than one hour” select 5 minutes from the drop-down box

Next to “One hour or more” select 10 minutes from the drop-down box

Click Ok

A communication has also gone out to line managers so that large group meetings are also scheduled to allow staff time away from the screen between Teams meetings.

Have a great break over the holidays and a very happy new year!

LUCU Committee

LUCU News: October 2022

LUCU News: October 2022

In this newsletter, we report on local negotiations, UCU Rising, and upcoming training/conference opportunities. 

Local Negotiations

Cost of Living Support

We are continuing discussions with management, including our Vice Chancellor, regarding support for staff during the cost-of-living crisis. We are pleased to report that senior leaders recognise the need to act on this important matter. We are discussing a range of measures to support members in this difficult financial climate – e.g. one-off payments, supermarket discount cards, discounted gym memberships.  Further information on this is expected shortly.   

Project Expectation

This project is related to the new University strategy and aims to ensure the accountability of managers at all levels.  LUCU has long argued that there are areas in the University where management practice could be better. Branch officers will be participating in the development and furtherance of this project: our aim is to improve members’ conditions through working with management to devise leadership development processes and best management practice recommendations.   

Living Wage

We have been working closely with the local Unison and Unite committees on a living wage campaign, and we can report that management has reiterated its commitment to paying staff the living wage and to becoming an accredited living wage employer. The Vice-Chancellor indicated his support for this in our October quarterly meeting with him, and so we expect further information on this in the coming months.  

UCU Rising

Just in case you haven’t voted yet, we again encourage you to return your ballots asap.  Also, a reminder that we have another GM on Wednesday, October 12 at 12 noon (you should have received a Teams invite). This meeting will offer another opportunity to discuss the issues on the ballot: USS, pay, workload, casualisation. 

Conferences/Training Opportunities

Annual Equality Groups Conference, 8-10 December 2022

This year the equality groups conference will be focused on building a shared intersectional equality agenda that pushes back against far-right narratives looking to divide workers, with the aim of building solidarity among members. There will be the five separate conferences for black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members to discuss issues relevant to their group, move motions and elect members to the national standing committees. It will take place at Conference Centre Hotel, Aston Street, Aston University Campus, Birmingham, B4 7ET.  

Participants to the Black, Disabled, LGBT+, Migrant and Women’s conferences are self-nominating and delegates must self-identify with the relevant equality group. All members of UCU who self-identify with a relevant equality group(s) are invited to attend.   

Registration deadline is Tuesday 8 November. This is set so UCU can accommodate all accommodation requests. For more information about this conference and for registration details please click here:  

 Climate and Ecological Emergency Annual Meeting, Thursday 10 November 2022

The UCU Annual Meeting for Climate and Ecological Emergency will be held on Thursday 10 November 2022 online via Zoom from 11.00 am to 4.00pm. The annual meeting will advise and make recommendations to the climate and ecological emergency committee and National Executive Committee on matters relating to climate and ecological emergency and environmental sustainability.  The meeting will hear reports on the work of UCU in relation to the climate and ecological emergency, discuss motions submitted by branches and local associations. There will also be plenty of opportunity to network with colleagues.   

Members with an interest in furthering the union’s work on climate and ecological emergency may register to attend the meeting. Registration deadline is Friday 4 November, 12 noon.  For more information about this conference and for registration details please click here.  

LUCU Committee

LUCU News: August 2022

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.   

Covid-19 

Covid precautions 

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.  

Teaching spaces 

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. 

FFP2 masks 

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.  

Contingency planning 

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

Campaigns

UCU Rising 

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 

Parking 

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.  

Fair pay 

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. 

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 – 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

Extraordinary General Assembly

Extraordinary General Assembly

The General Assembly is the University’s representative forum whose purpose is to allow all staff to “discuss and declare an opinion on any matter relating to the University” and “if it so decides, submit resolutions to the Council or Senate” (Statute 15). 

In light of recent USS developments, Loughborough UCU has called an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly to discuss two matters: 

  • Whether, given the role that the General Assembly has in the University’s democratic structures, it is appropriate to hold General Assemblies when UCU members are unable to attend due to participating in official strike action.  
  • Whether the Council has adequately fulfilled its obligations in light of recent changes to the USS pension scheme. 

The full text of the two motions we have asked to be discussed is given below. 

University management has scheduled the Extraordinary General Assembly for 4pm on Friday 29th April.  

If you would like your views on USS to be heard, please attend the meeting. We will send a calendar invite in addition to this message.  

We are yet to receive details of the location of the meeting or the Teams link enabling online attendance, but will circulate them when they are known. 

Motion 1: Organisation of General Assemblies

This Assembly notes:

– That the purpose of the General Assembly is to be a body that “consists of all staff” (Statute 15);

– UCU’s current industrial action over pay, casualisation, workload, equality pay gaps and proposed reductions to benefits in the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

This Assembly believes:

– That the General Assembly cannot fulfil its purpose if its meetings are scheduled during periods of lawful industrial action by recognised trade unions.

This Assembly resolves:

– To re-schedule future meetings that would otherwise occur during periods of industrial action.

Motion 2: Universities Superannuation Scheme

This Assembly notes:

– The changes to the benefits in the USS pension fund from 1st April 2022 which have reduced future benefit accrual by between 15% and 35%;

– That Loughborough University will be spending approximately £5.8m per year on USS “deficit recovery contributions” from 1st April 2022;

– That USS believes that the purported deficit of £14.1bn as of 31st March 2020 has reduced to £2.0bn as of 28th February 2022, a level which would require no deficit recovery contributions;

– That USS’s calculation of this £2.0bn deficit assumes that its assets will grow by only 0% in real terms, an assumption that the University’s management has previously described as “excessively prudent”;

– That USS’s assets have grown by 33% since March 2020.

– That Council has responsibility for the management and administration of the revenue and property of the University.

This Assembly believes:

– That it is not appropriate for the University to spend £5.8m per year on servicing a deficit that, on any reasonable set of financial assumptions, is non-existent;

– That by allowing the University to spend this money in this manner the Council has not adequately fulfilled its duty to properly manage and administer the revenue and property of the University.

This Assembly resolves:

– To instruct Council to properly discharge its duty to manage and administer the revenue and property of the University.

LUCU News: Pensions Update

LUCU News: Pensions Update

Today is April Fools’ Day. It’s also the day when Universities UK’s cuts to USS come into effect. What’s happening to our pension scheme is as ludicrous as the great April Fools’ pranks of the past (spaghetti trees, the island of San Serif), but, unfortunately, not as funny.

As a result of these cuts, the pension you will earn today is between 15% and 35% lower than the pension you earned yesterday. Coupled with the 21/22 pay award of just 1.5% and an inflation rate currently running at 6.2%, the assault on our pensions means that this year will see the biggest cut in our real-terms renumeration since at least the 1970s – potentially the biggest cut ever.

The changes taking effect in USS from today have other implications, too. From now on, the University will be spending around £5.8m per year on servicing the ‘deficit’ that USS calculated existed on 31 March 2020, at the height of the pandemic. In the Trustees’ interim monitoring report of 28 February 2022, USS accepted that this ‘deficit’ had shrunk from £14.1bn to £2.0bn. Remarkably, to create even this trivially small £2.0bn ‘deficit’, USS had to lower its growth assumptions below even the ‘excessively prudent’ assumptions used in the 2020 valuation: USS is now assuming 0% growth in real terms (since 2020 it has achieved 33% growth).

You may need to take a moment for this outrage to sink in. This £5.8m per year is real money, taken from the University’s bank account. So, the next time you are told there is no money to fund your PhD student to attend a conference, no money to replace your faulty computer, or no money to buy a new heater for your cold office, please remember that there is enough money in the University to spend £5.8m servicing a deficit that doesn’t exist.

What now?

There are two immediate ways in which the dispute could be resolved.

First, USS is being taken to court by a group of UCU activists. The hearing is scheduled for 5 April, and you can find out details of the case at the CrowdJustice page.

Second, Universities UK could insist that USS issues a new deficit recovery plan in light of post-valuation experience. Because the current ‘deficit’ is so low, this would be likely to reduce deficit recovery payments to zero, thereby providing scope for devising a new schedule of contributions and higher benefits. Critically, to improve benefits does not require the same lengthy consultation and legal process as is needed when benefits are cut.

To date, Universities UK has refused to call for a new valuation, or for post-valuation experience to be taken into account in drawing up the deficit recovery plan; instead, it has preferred simply to cut staff benefits. Without concerted pressure from UCU members, in the form of a high turnout and a strong ‘yes’ vote in the current ballot for continuing industrial action, UUK will continue to erode our living standards.

Sign the petition

Please urgently join UCU’s call for Universities UK (UUK) to revoke the cuts by signing the petition here: https://speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/uss-cuts-are-not-necessary/

Please vote

The ballot closes a week today: 8 April. We urge you to return your ballot papers, if you have not already done so. The last safe day to post is Wednesday 6 April. Thank you.

LUCU Committee