LUCU June News: Workload / USS & 4 Fights / LSU
Workload: Project Enable
Colleagues involved in Phase 1 of Project Enable, the University’s review of workload, have thus far identified 77 areas where work could either be removed from the system or processes could be revised to create more headroom in staff workloads. For example, a new triage system has been set up in the Research Office so faster decisions can be made on contract approvals, and bureaucracy is being reduced in the staffing approval process.
Changes are being made to the Ethics Approval process for both staff and student projects, which will reduce the amount of checking and save time for both PS and RTE colleagues, particularly in SSEHS and SDCA where staff have highlighted this as a workload stressor. Also, changes to a range of practices around learning and teaching, such as module and programme approval processes, are either underway or are being planned. LUCU welcomes these initiatives as they afford potential to free up time for professional services & RTE colleagues.
The work carried out by the branch committee on the Task and Finish workload groups for RTE and Professional Services staff informed Phase 1 of Project Enable. In June, the Programme Board, chaired by Richard Taylor, will meet to carry out a prioritisation exercise to determine the workstreams for Phase 2 of Project Enable. This exercise will consider the impact, effort required, beneficiaries and appetite for change in each of the items identified in Phase 1.
LUCU will be represented by Mary Brewer in Phase 2, who will join the Project Group. She will work closely with Sue Hignett as Equalities Officer to assess the EDI implications of proposed changes. Management recognizes that Phase 1 is unlikely to have captured all the activities where we might change working practices; therefore, members are encouraged to pass on ideas/suggestions for smarter working in their areas by speaking to their Department Rep or emailing UCU@lboro.ac.uk.
USS and 4 Fights: LUCU solidarity with assessment boycott at University of the Arts, London
UCU members in a relatively small number of branches began a marking boycott on the 23rd of May, in support of the USS and Four Fights campaigns. As we are not taking part, our branch has “twinned” with the University of the Arts, London, who are undertaking this action despite threats of 100% pay deductions for partial performance. The branch committee will offer practical campaign assistance where possible, and to further support our colleagues at UoA, £500 has been donated from our hardship fund to theirs.
We also urge you to consider donating to their Just Giving page if you can afford it. This small number of colleagues are taking on a huge burden on behalf of us all, and any financial solidarity we can offer them will make a real difference to those who face having their pay withheld.
LUCU and LSU
At recent EGMs, members have asked us to prioritise establishing supportive exchanges with Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU), and we can report good progress on this front. Though mindful of the need to reflect a range of student opinion on campus, LSU has been helpful in soliciting material from us about our reasons for taking industrial action and in posting this on their social media platforms.
With a possible marking boycott in the air, Freya Mason, the LSU President, recently contacted us again. Mary Brewer and Andrew Dix then met with Freya and four of her team. We’re glad to inform members that this was a warm and productive conversation. While it would be unreasonable to expect LSU to be on the barricades with us, they are keen to play whatever role they can in finding solutions to current disputes (most pressingly, the pensions issue). With this in mind, we will be exploring the possibility of tripartite meetings, involving management, LSU and ourselves. At present, exchanges are only bilateral – and we would welcome the chance to make our case with student leaders, as well as managers, in the room.
We will say more in future newsletters as these initiatives develop (there will be opportunities for collaboration with LSU on other fronts as well, including mental health and equity and inclusion). For the moment, we’d just like to thank Freya and her colleagues for their support this year and to say that we look forward to working equally productively with the incoming LSU team.
We hope you have a good break over the extended bank holiday!