1. Update on Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The branch’s AGM was held last week on Wednesday 10th March; you can see the notes from the meeting here. The AGM is where members vote on the Executive Committee for the next academic year and on delegates and motions from the branch to the Wales Higher Education Sector Conference (HESC) and Congress, which will happen on the 17th and 24th April respectively, and to the UK HESC and Congress on the 29 – 30 May and 2nd June.
You can see here the list of the new Executive Committee for 2021/22. We still have vacancies for the roles of, Anti-casualisation Officer, Policy Officer and Disability Rep – please get in touch with the office if you consider taking on any of these roles.
You can see here the delegates and motions voted for the Wales HESC and Congress. Members who wish to attend as observers (who can’t vote for motions) can still register until the 2nd April using this form. The delegates voted to attend the UK HESC and Congress were Lucy Riglin, Luzia Dominguez, Chris Graves, Renata Medeiros and Steven Stanley.
We were not able to cover all the agenda items at the AGM, so the Executive Committee called for an Emergency General Meeting yesterday to discuss the ongoing problems related to issues in SHARE, Academic Renewal, Professional Services strategy and democratisation of the University. We will report on these issues soon.
2. Update on the dispute
Our dispute with the University over giving workers a choice about working face-to-face on campus is still ongoing and we are waiting to hear from ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) if we are able to resolve it through the ongoing facilitated discussions with management.
We are still hopeful to resolve the dispute through ACAS but the discussions have been ongoing for a number of weeks without resolution and, considering the urgency of our dispute, we felt we had no option but to ask the Wales Regional Office to send the Vice-Chancellor an official dispute letter which will result in balloting for industrial action if a resolution is not achieved very soon.
We continue to ask all our members to ensure their postal addresses are up to date on their UCU account (here) so that you don’t miss the ballot for industrial action if we cannot resolve the dispute through ACAS.
Please continue to engage with us so that we are aware of a range of views across the branch regarding our dispute. You can get in touch with the office (email@example.com) or share your views or ideas via this link.
3. Academic promotions – University changes rules after UCU pressure
Following our communication with the University regarding the decision to delay promotion awards this year, the University Executive Board (UEB) responded to our latest letter sent to them on the 12th February (which you can read here) confirming that they will meet our request for the award to be back-dated to August, so that no member of staff incurs a detriment when applying for promotion this year. You can read their response in full here
4. Vacancies for Senate
The University Senate is part of the University Governance structure and is the highest authority on academic matters in the University. Any changes to curriculum, degree programs, assessment, but also research focus etc. should be driven by and require the approval of Senate. Senate also has power to instruct Council (the University governing body) on certain matters.
The Senate is a very important forum where Academic staff can make themselves heard and the more active members it has, the better the health of the university. Senate meets three time per annum for around 2 hours and papers are circulated in advance for members to read.
The current vacancies include:
- 4 professors (only from ARCHI, CHEMY, COMSC, DENTL, GEOPL, JOMEC, MATHS, MLANG, MUSIC, OPTOM, PHYSX, SOCSI, WELSH)
- 8 academics grade 5+ (not from CARBS, CHEMY, ENCAP, LAWPL, SHARE)
- 1 PS grade 5+ (not Academic & Student Support Services, IT & Programme Management, Strategic Planning, University Secretary’s Office)
If you would like to discuss it with any of our members who are Senate members, please let us know. You need to submit a nomination form by noon on 24 March 2021, which you can do here.
5. Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) 2020 Valuation
As you may be aware, the USS has now published their Section 76.1 report, which details the assumptions they are proposing to use for the 2020 valuation. If implemented these assumptions would require members to pay between 42.1% and 56.2% of their salaries to earn the same amount of DB benefits each year as currently, up from 30.7% of salary. You can read the UCU response to this here.
University College London UCU branch voted 84:1 (with 1 abstention) for a motion for UK Congress for rebuilding the USS campaign from the grassroots, including committing to building an industrial action ballot.
The assumptions the USS are proposing are very similar to those they published in September 2020, which were the basis of a letter of complaint sent to USS at the end of January, coordinated by Neil Davies from Bristol University. This has now been acknowledged by USS with the expectation of a response next month. If you signed this complaint then you will have received this further request directly from Neil Davies about a follow up letter has been prepared to send to the Financial Times.
If you are willing to sign then please add your details to the Google form, where you can also find a link to the letter.
Please share this with colleagues who are members of USS, whether they are members of UCU or not – we must keep what USS are doing in the public view as this valuation process moves on.
6. Four Fights: final offer 2020/21
Following the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) meeting and in line with the decisions made at the national HE Sector Conference (HESC) last December, an e-ballot consultation of members on the final offer made by UCEA took place from 8 to 23 February. Members voted overwhelmingly to reject the employer’s final offer as recommended by HESC and the national negotiators.
Another round of industrial action is being considered to continue the national four fights over loss of pay, pay gap, workload and casualisation.
7. Results of the UCU national elections in 2021
The results of ballots to elect the honorary Treasurer and National Executive Committee (NEC) members, which closed at noon on 2 March 2021, are now available here.