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Reading UCU at Congress 2017: Use Of Consultants in HE

RUCU Members at the quorate General Meeting on Wednesday 15th March agreed to submit the following motion to Congress 2017. More updates to follow!

Use Of Consultants in HE

UCU Reading notes a trend in university senior management to spend significant public funding on private sector consultancy firms, as evidenced by the £36m spend at Reading. These firms recommend the implementation of ready-made business solutions, inappropriate for the HE sector, which generate redundancies, de-skill the workforce and increase workload. Institutional expertise is ignored, devaluing the sector and demotivating staff. The HE sector should use its in-house expertise in order to achieve buy-in from its staff and arrive at recruitment, teaching, financial and other processes that are fit-for-purpose.

RUCU calls on HEC to:

  • Investigate the increasing use of consultants in HE;
  • Collect examples of recommendations that have already failed and been reversed;
  • Investigate the additional stress caused to employees and the lowering of morale.

RUCU further calls on HEC to:

  • Call on the National Audit Office and Government to conduct value-for-money audits on consultancy spending across the HE sector.

National Recruitment Week February 2017

Thank you to all the staff members who stopped to chat to us this week, who attended RUCU meetings, workshops, and who took leaflets, pens and UCU mugs! Thank you also to Scott Alexander and Joe McCrory, UCU,  for visiting the Branch and talking to RUCU members.

Programme of RUCU Events w/c 27th February

The RUCU Committee has arranged the following events for National Recruitment Week (w/c 27th February). Please do come along to events that will be helpful to you and take the opportunity to meet members of the committee. Please also forward on details of these events to colleagues who will find the meetings useful, particularly colleagues on an hourly paid/fractional contract.

Tuesday 28th  February 13:00 – 14:00. Palmer 106.  Improving grade drift, insecure contracts and routes of progression, with UCU Regional Official. Please attend this meeting to learn what the RUCU Committee is doing to address issues here at University of Reading. All staff members are invited to give feedback on their experience, and it is especially important to attend if you are on an hourly paid or fractional contract.

Tuesday 28th February 14:00 – 15:00 Palmer 111. Drop In Workshops on Contracts for members only. Please email: cmaxfield@ucu.org.uk to book a 10 minute slot, based on a ‘first come’ basis. RUCU committee members and a UCU Regional Official will be present to answer questions on employment contracts.

Tuesday 28th February 12:00-14:00 Palmer foyer. Information Stall. Find out what UCU can do for you!

Thursday 2nd March 12:30-13:30 Chemistry Building G50. Drop In Information Session. Members and non-members in the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy are welcome to drop by and chat to a RUCU committee member.

Thursday 2nd March 12:00 – 14:00 HUMSS foyer. Information Stall. Find out what UCU can do for you!

We hope to see you there!        
 

One Day Without Us at University of Reading, Monday 20 February

Please see below for details on the One Day Without Us event taking place at University of Reading next Monday. UCU nationally is partnered with this mobilisation, and RUCU is pleased to support this event by circulating information to members.
 
There will be a (short) March for Migrants from Carrington / Palmer, around the square, past the library to the flagpole, where there will be speeches from senior staff and other university community representatives. This will begin at 12.45, and end after the speeches, probably by 13.30.
 
MERL are planning a tea party in the afternoon of 20 February to highlight the role of migrant workers in British agriculture, past and present, and will invite members of the refugee and migrant workers groups. Staff at London Road will be invited to attend. 
 
For a point of contact for this event: kate.macdonald@reading.ac.uk

Representing individual members: an introduction to casework, 13 January 2017, Reading

Representing individual members: an introduction to casework, 13 January 2017, Reading

This is a course for reps who are new to representing individual members or those who are considering becoming more involved in the direct representation of individual members. The course is designed as an introduction and you should look to completing the Rep 1: Induction post this course. More experienced reps may find this course useful in order to update their skills and look at current best practice.

Date: 13 January 2017
Duration: 1 day
Location:  University of Reading

Please click here to register using the online form: https://www.ucu.org.uk/caseworkreading

Please note: this event is for Southern region branches only. Please ensure you can commit to attend for the whole day prior to submitting your application. Thank-you.

This course will enable you to:

  • understand UCU’s legal support scheme
  • identify the benefits of the Education Support Partnership charity
  • review how to communicate effectively with members seeking advice and representation
  • understand the importance of individual cases for collective organisation
  • develop a collaborative approach with the member and manage expectations
  • recognise the importance of confidentiality
  • assert your own rights and take care of your own well being when handling personal cases
  • increase you understanding of your workplace’s own policies and procedures
  • outline systems for dealing with individual casework in your branch

National Recruitment Week: University of Reading

nrw-university-of-reading

The RUCU Committee ran a series of activities this week for UCU National Recruitment Week, including

  • a recruitment stall in the Palmer Building (blown in by the rain!) on Tuesday 22nd November
  • a recruitment stall in the Agriculture Building, Thursday 24th November
  • an all staff drop in session within the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environment lunchtime on Thursday 24th November.

 

Thursday 24th was also the Anti-casualisation day of action and nearly 60 branches have confirmed activities aimed at unionising staff on precarious contracts and calling for more secure employment in education. UCU’s high profile campaign is getting widespread coverage in the national media. The RUCU committee included promotional material relevant to this campaign on our recruitment stand in the Agriculture Building.

Thank you to all the members and non-members who stopped to chat and take information!

Who’s Spending Britain’s Billions?

For anyone who missed the BBC documentary ‘ Who’s Spending Britain’s Billions?’ please click the link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0803b0s/whos-spending-britains-billions

As Britain continues to spend less on the public sector, do we really know where our taxes are being spent? Peretti uncovers what is happening behind closed doors in cash-strapped Britain and finds that local councils across the UK are signing contracts with management consultancy firms who can take a percentage of any savings they find. This documentary also reveals that hundreds of the millions of taxpayers’ pounds spent on these contracts are covered by confidential deals meaning very little detail is known about them. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) features within this documentary. In this revealing insight Peretti asks if the public deserve to know more about how those charged with managing Britain’s billions are spending it.

FAQ: RUCU Ballot on the Proposed Settlement to the Dispute on Contracts and Procedures. Sept 2016

 

RUCU have received numerous queries related to the current ballot on the proposed settlement to the Dispute on Contracts and Procedures, and we thought it would be useful to share the answers with all members.

Q. Is it possible to see the documents relating to the proposed settlement to the Dispute on Contracts and Procedures?

A. The University has agreed to host the documents on its website, and RUCU will send members the link as soon as we are able to. You can also request these documents directly from RUCU by emailing our RUCU Branch Administrator: cmaxfield@ucu.org.uk

Q. Does RUCU think that it has reached a working compromise with the University over procedures?

A. RUCU considers that although the University has not agreed to make procedures contractual, the compromise reached gives members the same protection as if they were. The University was apprehensive about making procedures contractual as any small omission on their part would mean that they could technically be taken to court over breach of contract. The fact that the university has agreed to negotiate (rather than simply consult) RUCU on changes to procedures means that any changes would now be a two way process requiring RUCU agreement, and there is a disputes procedure in place in the annex to the recognition procedure to facilitate this.

Q.Does RUCU believe that the members who cast a No vote in the July ballot will now consider their objections to be resolved, as a consequence of the compromises in the proposed settlement?

A. The compromises represent a considerable move on the part of the university. For example, the gross misconduct list has been completely revised by us, with University agreement, and made much clearer. Members have been understandably worried about the contents in previous versions, and clauses have been refined to enforce how serious the nature of the case must be before the behaviour can be deemed to be gross misconduct. The protection that staff will gain from the proposed settlement as to procedures is the same as if procedures were contractual. Statutes have gone, and RUCU have worked hard to make the new contracts and procedures as protective as possible for its members.

Q. What happens next if there is a NO vote?

A. If there is a NO vote to the current ballot then a member’s meeting will be called. A vote will be held for a Trades Dispute, which will be served on the university. A ballot will then need be organised officially through Electoral Reform Services for Industrial Action. The trigger point for Industrial Action will depend on the actions of the university at this point. There are a number of legal responses the university could take to enforce new contracts.

 

Keep Up to Date with JNC Meetings!

Please note that the page dedicated to  JNC Meetings on the Reading University website has now been updated and Minutes are available up to February 2016. RUCU will let you know when the Minutes for the recent Exceptional JNC Meeting are uploaded, as this will contain information relevant to the recent RUCU Ballots on Contracts and Procedures: this meeting took place on the 18th July 2016.

Please visit the JNC page here for more information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/imps/FOIA/Publicationscheme/Committees/imps-FOIA-publication-scheme-JUUCU.aspx

 

Ballot – What Next?

First, many thanks to all of you who voted over statutes, procedures and contracts. There was an overwhelming no vote to all the questions, and as a consequence we are now formally in dispute with the University. This triggers the Dispute Procedure, as agreed under our Recognition Agreement.  The first stage of this is a special meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to discuss the issues.  This has been called for the afternoon of Monday 18 July. Should this meeting not resolve the issues then the next step is to convene a special Disputes Committee, made of up University Council members and UCU officers and reps not involved in the original negotiations.  This will then hear the issues and make a decision.

Also I should mention that at present we are in a dispute with the University through our Recognition Agreement. This is different to a formal Trades Dispute, and at present we are not in a Trades Dispute with the University. However, we shall be in discussion with UCU officials about the procedure for calling a Trades Dispute with the University, should an unsatisfactory outcome of the Dispute Procedure make this necessary.

Paul Hatcher
RUCU Branch President