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
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
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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
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:
- working to contract;
- not covering for absent colleagues;
- 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;
- not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action;
- 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
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.
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.
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
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 News: October 2022
In this newsletter, we report on local negotiations, UCU Rising, and upcoming training/conference opportunities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 News – July 2022
This newsletter reports on the AGM, USS & 4 Fights and Management Negotiations.
In brief, the AGM addressed the activities of the branch committee over the last year including – e.g. – the removal of ratings and the decoupling of rewards from PDR, our monitoring of Covid safety measures, GTVO campaigns for USS and 4 Fights, organising strike actions, the joint statement with Loughborough management on USS, and our input to Project Enable and the review of promotions criteria. Looking ahead, we discussed a major recruitment campaign for next year, which will include opportunities for members to receive training and support their Reps in this vital activity.
Officers for the 2022-23 committee were also confirmed:
- Mary Brewer: Chair
- Marc Gibson: Secretary
- Marie Hanlon: Membership Secretary
- Alec Edworthy: Health, Safety and Environment Officer
- Andrew Dix: Casework Coordinator
- David Wilson: Treasurer
- Sue Hignett: Equalities Officer
- Joanna Boehnert: Ordinary member
Minutes of the AGM have been emailed to all members.
USS & 4 Fights
A branch delegates’ meeting was held on 27 June. Delegates were asked to vote on the timing of an aggregated ballot for industrial action on USS & 4 Fights. 79% of delegates voted to ballot in October, with action to take place in Spring/Summer 2023; 51% of delegates voted against a summer ballot. Full details of questions and ballot results have been emailed to members.
HEC met on 1 July and agreed the following demands for 2022/23:
- To call on UUK to withdraw their imposed benefit cuts to USS
- To call on USS to carry out a new evidence-based valuation
- To reject the pay offer from the employers
- To seek a substantial (at least £2,500) pay increase
- To seek meaningful agreements on workload, casualisation, and equality pay gaps
However, regard timing, HEC decided to open the ballot in August to run until October, with industrial action to begin in November, should the employers not agree to the above demands. This appears out of line with the expressed view of a large majority of branches, whose delegates proffered a variety of reasons why they did not support this strategy and/or feel able to deliver a positive ballot result within this time frame. Consequently, branch officers have requested a meeting with Justine Mercer, HEC Chair, to discuss further the rationale for November strike action.
Management Negotiations: PDR and Covid 19
JNCC, in which the 3 campus unions negotiate with management, met on 6 July.
Management confirmed that the 2023 round of PDR will follow the same process as this year, that is, there will be no ratings or reward tied to PDR. However, in 2024, management is considering returning to ratings and re-linking PDR to rewards. The three campus unions made clear our strong opposition to the reintroduction of a judgemental rather than developmental review of staff performance.
The unions requested that senior management
- reiterate to all line managers that staff are not expected to work when ill, whether from Covid or another illness,
- recirculate the policy that asks staff who have Covid or any other communicable disease to stay at home to protect others, and
- continue providing cleaning materials for commonly used equipment, whether desks, copiers, vans, etc. We are pleased to report that management agreed to these requests.
The unions also asked that clean air is ensured, free from airborne spread diseases. This could be provided by adequately filtered air handlers, where fitted, and HEPA air purifiers where there is no mechanical ventilation. We are disappointed that management would not agree to the installation of air purifiers, because, they argued, there is insufficient evidence to support their effectiveness. LUCU disagrees with this analysis, and our Health and Safety officers will discuss the question of evidence further with Neil Budworth, the Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing.
We have received a response to our newsletter, above, from Anne Lamb, Director of Human Resources, regarding the item on PDR.
It remains the case that there is not likely to be any significant change on ratings or rewards for PDR 2023; however, we have been asked to circulate further details about the timing and decision-making process regarding PDR.
- Following a meeting of the Academic Leadership team and consultation with Deans, final details about PDR 2023 will be shared with staff in the autumn.
- Looking ahead to 2024: PDR and reward are to be included in one of the University’s enabling projects, Project Expectation, which will explore the longer-term arrangements.
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!