1. Volunteer to help with Get The Vote Out Campaign (GTVO)
Our negotiators are meeting with the University Executive Board (UEB) today in another attempt to resolve the dispute. Recent correspondence from management indicates that they are still refusing tomake the commitment that face-to-face work on campus will be optional. Time is of the essence in a situation like this and we must be prepared to keep up the pressure for ours and our colleagues’ safety. We urge all members to check their UCU records here (link) to ensure they have the correct address to receive a ballot for industrial action. We also need volunteers to help with the GTVO campaign so that we can reach those members who are less engaged with the union and encourage them to vote in order for us to reach the required 50% voting turnout. If you can spare any time over the next few weeks, please add your name to this form and we will get in touch soon.
2. Anti-Casualisation Update
Casualisation in HE, including at Cardiff University, has been a growing concern over the past years and the impacts of the pandemic on those in precarious work are particularly concerning.
We recently wrote to HR enquiring about the progress of the Teaching Delivery Governance Group, set up to improve the contracts and progression of hourly-paid staff and to evaluate the terms of conditions for postgraduate tutors (for which UCU is requesting working contracts), after a number of meetings have been postponed – we have received no reply yet but we will update members when possible.
The Anti-casualisation working group set up a new taskforce, led by Dr Ryan Davey, to look at contracts with relevant factors. We aim to submit a claim to the University with demands relating to these contracts. If you would like to contribute to the discussion leading to submitting the claim, please get in touch with the office (email@example.com).
3. Casualisation – Potential Legal Cases
UCU National is asking branches for case studies for potential legal challenges across HE institutions by way of unfair dismissal or indirect discrimination claims. We are seeking cases for submission that include staff on fixed terms contracts which have been allowed to expire where:
• They have been on one Fixed term contract of 2 years or more, or
• On successive fixed term contracts with a gap between them of no more than 1 week, or
• Have had a significant history of fixed term contracts (more than a few years) expiring at the end of the academic year and being issued another one in September
(all of these with the same institution)
We are also interested in any cases of fixed terms contracts being allowed to expire where those contracts are primarily fulfilled by (a) staff of one sex, (b) a particular age group or (c) a particular race or ethnic origin, or (d) of staff being selected for redundancy (i.e. let go when their latest contract expired) just because they were on a fixed-term contract.
If you think you can be used as a case-study or know anyone who might fit any of the above please contact the office to let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Following the University’s announcement on the decision to delay promotion awards this year, we inquired about the reasons and objected to the effective ‘suspension’ of the academic promotion process for 2021 in this letter sent to the University Executive Board (UEB) on 21st January 2021.
UEB have responded and confirmed that the decision to delay the promotion award is not because of savings to staff costs but they did not address our questions and concerns sufficiently. As a result, we sent a follow-up letter pushing for the award to be back-dated to August so that no member of staff incurs a detriment when applying for promotion this year.
5. Home Working Risks
Many staff have still not had a proper Risk Assessment, including a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment, specific for home-working.
The Health and Safety Executive Government Agency (HSE) has some useful advice for home-working here and here and this fact sheet by Greater Manchester Hazards Website contains details on some of the risks involved in working long periods without the right equipment.
If your home does not have the conditions for you to arrange a proper workstation, you should consider discussing with your line manager a different space to work, including safe access to your office.
6. Four Fights National Dispute
UCU national office is surveying members on the latest offer by the employers at UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association) over the four fights dispute relating to: Pay inequality, Job insecurity, Rising workloads, and Pay devaluation.
There’s still time to have your say if you have not yet done so – later today please lookout for a reminder email from independent scrutineers Civica containing your unique link to vote in the e-ballot (with subject line: ‘UCU consultative ballot on UCEA final offer 2020/21’ from sender ‘email@example.com‘).
If you do not receive this email, after having checked your spam/junk folder you can request a replacement by entering your details on this online form.
The consultative ballot closes on at 12 noon on Tuesday 23 February 2021. UCU’s higher education committee will then meet on 26 February and will decide the next steps.