London Campus Picket

*** Times to be confirmed***

Lboro UCU London members and supporters, please join us on the picket line at the main entrance of Lboro London campus on Wed 1st Feb to fight for what we deserve. Contact Loughborough London Rep, Matt Vidal for times. The longer the picket line, the shorter the dispute. #ucuRISING #LboroFamily

Lboro Campus Picket

Lboro UCU members and supporters, please join us on the picket line at the main gate of Lboro campus from 8:30am – 10am on Wed 1st Feb to fight for what we deserve. The longer the picket line, the shorter the dispute. #ucuRISING #LboroFamily

UCU Rising Planning Meeting – With Pizza

LboroUCU members, after the #ucuRISING picket please join us in the Loughborough SU Council Chambers to discuss & plan the industrial action in Feb & March, from 10am-1pm on 1st Feb. Free pizza provided. You can also join the meeting online (Teams) see your email for the link. 

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

LUCU General Meeting

A branch GM has been called for Monday 9th January at 12pm. It is an opportunity to give your views on the continuing #ucuRISING industrial action, ahead of the HEC meeting on the 12th Jan. Members, please check your email for more info and a link to join.

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

National UCU Rising Demo – London

UCU are encouraging people to attend a national demonstration at Kings Cross Station in London on Wednesday 30th November starting at 1pm. If you are interested in attending this, University of Nottingham UCU have booked a coach, it will be leaving from Nottingham around 8-8:30am (exact pick up points to be confirmed). Members, friends and supporters are all welcome to join. Tickets are £15 per person. Anybody who’d like to join can fill out this form and UoN UCU will get in touch to confirm details.

Virtual Picket Line

On Friday 25th November UCU National are hosting a virtual picket line from 10:30am on Zoom. You can join by following this link.

London Campus Picket Line

The branch is organising a picket on the London campus on Thursday 24th November from 9am until 12pm – based in Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3BS.

If you can, do please come along for the rewarding and convivial experience of unpressured time with colleagues, i.e. discussion time you don’t usually get because your workload is too much (and one of the things that must change).

All supporters are welcome on our picket line so feel free to invite friends, family and others to show their solidarity.

We look forward to seeing as many of you on the picket line as possible. Any questions, please contact Marc Gibson via email.

Loughborough Campus Picket Line & BBQ

The branch is organising a picket on the main Loughborough campus at the main gate (Epinal Way) on Thursday 24th November, starting 8:30am until 11am.

If you can, do please come along for the rewarding and convivial experience of unpressured time with colleagues, i.e. discussion time you don’t usually get because your workload is too much (and one of the things that must change).

We also have the super duper BBQ, courtesy of our brilliant picket chef, Andy.

All supporters are welcome on our picket line so feel free to invite friends, family and others to show their solidarity.

We look forward to seeing as many of you on the picket line as possible. Any questions, please contact Marc Gibson via email.