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Enabling Motion passed at quorate RUCU AGM 06/06/18

ENABLING MOTION FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF READING ON
COLLECTIVE CLAIMS

This branch notes that the USS strike became a flashpoint for
fundamental discontent with the way that universities are being run; that
during the strike members were raising long-standing grievances about
equal pay as well as areas in which the University fails to consistently pay
the rate for the job.
On the matter of equal pay, members are particularly concerned about the
gender pay gap. Two concerns persist about the rate for the job: Firstly,
the extent and handling of casualized work and secondly, a development
of lower-graded staff picking up the duties traditionally undertaken by staff
on higher grades.

EQUAL PAY: On the gender pay gap, this branch notes

– that the gender pay gap at the University of Reading is 19.6%;
– that women are under-represented higher up the career pathway and
grading structures;
– that despite the efforts made by UCU and others over many years, the
gender pay gap persists;
– that at the current rate of progress it will take several more decades to
close the gap;
– that there is a need for meaningful action to resolve many issues across
academic and related staff.

RATE FOR THE JOB 1): On the casualization of academic staff, this
branch notes:

– that the University employs about 550 sessional staff, the majority of
which have been employed for more than one year;
– that the University is not committed to reducing the number of staff on
sessional contracts – e.g. by introducing a mechanism for such staff to
be offered fractional rather than hourly based contracts;
– that rates of pay vary across Schools and are not linked in any
meaningful or transparent way to the University pay scales;
– that practices vary widely regarding the way in which preparation time
and/or time for marking is remunerated, or is indeed not remunerated;
– that despite starts made to tackle this problem since 2015, no progress
has been achieved to date.

RATE FOR THE JOB 2): On the link between pay grades and levels
of responsibility, this branch notes:

– that grade descriptors have been established along with the current
pay scales introduced in 2006;
– that there are now numerous instances across the University where
responsibilities taken on by staff are not in line with their level of pay;
– that there is no procedure that prevents the exploitation of staff
desire for career advancement in order to delegate higher level
duties to staff paid on lower grades;
– that there is a structural problem with the roles and uses of Grade 6
academic staff both with regard to levels of responsibility and lack
of career progression.
This branch believes that there is a need for the University’s senior
management to agree that dealing with these matters through joint
negotiation with UCU should be a key organisational objective in starting
to repair the damage caused by UUK and university management
approaches to the employment package. We believe they should commit
to time limited negotiations to reach an agreed action plan.

This branch agrees:

– members meetings on the three themes identified above should be
held in June;
– that these meetings should be asked to consider a draft claim for
submission to University management, a collective bargaining
approach, and ways in which members can get involved in
supporting their claim (including involvement in co-ordinating
groups);
– that the branch committee should agree a final version of the claim
and submit it to the University management ASAP and by no later
than 1 October 2018;
– that members should be kept informed of developments after each
meeting with management;
– that a full report, including the need for action in the event of
insufficient progress, should be made to each branch meeting.

Pay Negotiations 2018

The final offer in the 2018 round of Pay negotiations was made on the 10th May:

Pay 2% increase for staff on spine point 16 and above. £425 for staff on spine point 15 and below.

The pay offer falls disappointing short of the pay claim and pay continues to erode and fall behind comparable professions. The offer does not keep up with inflation or address the loss in pay over the last 10 years. It is in the bottom quartile of recent public sector settlements.

The consultative ballot will open on 6 June and close on 27 June and the result will be considered by HEC on 29 June.

For more information  please click here: UCUBANHE32 – National Pay Negotiations 2018

 

RUCU AGM 6th June

We invite all members to the Reading UCU Annual General Meeting.

The meeting will take place:

Date: Wednesday 6th June

Time: 13:00-14:00

Location: HUMSS/Edith Morley Van Emden lecture theatre.

Please make every effort to attend.

An agenda will be sent out nearer the time. If you want to raise anything under AOB, please let us know by Thursday 17th May and this can be included on the agenda, and will be discussed if there is time (there is an amount of formal material that has to be got through in the AGM). Please click here for a Nomination Form for Committee members and officers, and here for a list of current RUCU officers.  All positions are up for re-election every year and we would like to encourage you to think about joining the Committee and/or standing for one of the officer posts. We would particularly hoping that members who are working or have worked on a precarious contract – zero hours, hourly-paid, part-time or fixed term – will be willing to bring that perspective to the Committee’s work, as this is currently an important area of focus for RUCU.

If you would like more information, there is a description of the responsibilities of the roles currently in the Local rules section of our website at www.reading.web.ucu.org.uk (section 8), or have a chat with one of the existing Committee members (names and contact details also on the website). You could also come along to one of our regular Drop In sessions (Thursdays, 13:00 – 14:00) where Committee members will be happy to talk to you about how you can help the Branch, whether as a Committee member or in some other way.

Anyone being nominated needs to give their written consent by completing the Nomination Form, which must also be signed by two RUCU members. Nominees and proposers must all be Branch members paying appropriate subs.

Please return the Nomination forms to me by 5.00pm on Tuesday 8th May (Room 105, JJ Thomson Building)

Thank you

 

RUCU hosts Regional Training

Reading UCU is hosting further UCU training for the Southern Region. Please consider booking a place on one of the following courses to learn more about UCU and the work that we do.

Southern Region has had a very successful year of offering training to members across the region and to round things off for this academic year we will be putting on the following training courses:  

 

 Date

 Location

 Training Course

5th June 2018

The University of Reading

9:30am – 5:00pm Introduction to Casework.

 

8th June 2018

Solent University

9:30am – 5:00pm Introduction to Casework.

 

19th June 2018

The University of Reading

9:30am – 5:00pm A fair Disciplinary & Grievance process.

 

22nd June 2018

Solent University

9:30am – 5:00pm A fair Disciplinary & Grievance process.

 

INTRODUCTION TO CASEWORK:

 This is for reps who are new to working with members and will cover:

·       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.

A FAIR DISCIPLINARY & GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

This course is ideal for members who are caseworkers or involved in advising members.  The course will help you:

·        Represent members in discussions with employers.

·        Understand how Grievances and Disciplinaries are handled.

·        Understand rights at work.

·        Build confidence in your role and responsibilities as a union rep.

·        Develop the skills you need to be an effective rep.

If you are interested in attending one or more of the above courses please contact southern@ucu.org.uk

Region will pay for reasonable travelling expenses and lunch and refreshments will be provided on all days.

If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact RUCU or our Regional Office.

 

Ballot result: strike action is now suspended

Dear all,
 
You’ve hopefully have seen the email on Friday from UCU Head office to confirm that strike action is now suspended: this includes action short of a strike (ASOS).
 
Let’s take a moment to look at what we’ve achieved. 
·         In January, despite our protestations, the JNC approved the change of our pension fund from DB to DC, and the next stage was going to be a consultation period with USS members.  Following our action, this has been overturned and we have stopped the DC pension from being imposed – and we’ve achieved an agreement to maintain a meaningful defined benefit pension.
·         We disputed the basis of the valuation and the amount of the alleged deficit.  The employers refused to listen: but following our action, the valuation is being reviewedagain and an expert panel appointed to agree key principles for the future.
Those are the two big achievements: but the other things that we’ve achieved are:
·         We all know an awful lot more about pensions than we did before – and so do our nearest and dearest (except those who bought ear plugs), our students, our non-member colleagues, our neighbours and the general public: and there’s been a rise in the number of articles in the media about pensions in the UK, not just in the higher education sector.
·         We’ve brought to the fore the issues about commercialisation of the sector, about the links between fees and the sale of degrees, and about the factory effect of pushing students towards a final degree without giving room for creativity, additional thinking and genuine debate.
·         We’ve highlighted the issues that exist for those joining academia, and theprecariousness of working at universities, and shown how much the university has moved towards fixed term, low paid, part time or zero hour contracts.
·         We’ve shown how much the universities rely on our good will and willingness togo not just that extra mile, but the extra marathon.
·         We’ve met colleagues from across the university and built a solidarity which crosses departments, subject areas, and internal structure.
·         We’ve gained a huge number of new members, bringing fresh ideas and new energy and enthusiasm, and providing extra strength for our bargaining and negotiation power.
 
We will all be keeping a close eye on the slippery team at UUK to make sure they follow through on what they’ve said to date.  We’ll be reporting back to you (as will UCU Head office) on progress. They will, on their part, be trying to spread disharmony and find ways of breaking our united front.  Don’t let them.  If they can find a way of splitting us and pitting one side against the other, then there is a risk we will lose what we’ve fought so hard to gain. 
 
You’ve all been amazing, and I hope you’ll all feel that these are huge steps forward, when you think of how we were in the summer last year, regardless of how you may have voted in the ballot.  Your hard work, your commitment and your willingness to sacrifice time, pay and energy have all paid off.  For those who picketed or stood at the picket lines in support: thank you!  For those who brought food and drink to the picket lines: thank you!  For those who organised teachouts, led new Education Unlimited meetings, made badges, created placards, marched, played music or dressed up: thank you! And beyond us in the union, there are colleagues who said kind words in support, or who dealt uncomplainingly with an issue that would normally have been covered by a member on strike, or who beeped their horn at the picket line (never to be underestimated as a cheering moment): please do thank those colleagues too.  
 
We’re back to work now: but please do remember that the University pays you to do a job, and that they pay you a certain number of hours to do this.  Please don’t fall into the trap of offering unlimited free hours to them again.  If, for example, you’re paid on a 0.2 contract, and you’re asked to prepare, teach and mark a module, and that amounts to 0.3 of your week, please make this discrepancy absolutely clear to your line manager and ask why you are not being paid to do the work you’re being asked to do.  Contact us if you need support on this: but this is also something we’re going to be looking closely at in the coming months.
 
In September last year I emailed out to tell you what our strategy was for the year.  We had held our annual Strategy Day, where we reviewed the last year and looked to plan what our resources should be directed towards in the coming year.  We identified six priorities which were:
 
·         Pensions (I think we covered that…)
·         Workload – we’re looking at the amount of overwork amongst staff, and are collating data on this together with (anonymised) information on stress levels and health issues as a result of increased workload.
·         Equality – we’re concerned about the lack of clear policies on equality, and are alarmed at some of the casework information that has come through where staff are finding that their own concerns are not being addressed with any robustness by senior staff. 
·         Insecure contracts – we have a clear sense that these are being used as a means to justify over recruitment: PhD students are being asked to teach with no contract, and staff are being asked to work on fractional or short term contracts where the number of hours paid is not enough to cover the number of hours worked; we’ll be talking more about this and seeking data from you.
·         Pay and framework – we are campaigning for better deals for casual staff, career progression for all staff including Grade 6, arrest of grade drift, a fair hourly rate for staff.  We are going to be asking for case studies and examples of unjust treatment.
·         Recruitment – we need to keep recruiting, and we’ll be working on strategies to keep our numbers buoyant.  We also need more help on the Committee and with casework, and are trying to find more department reps.
We certainly succeeded on the recruitment, too, with a huge 20% increase in numbers, and if you’re new since September you won’t have seen these priorities highlighted.  We’re now going to be returning to the other items on the list, and picking up where we left off, with a particular push coming on both the gender pay gap and on insecure contracts.  We welcome any offers of help on either of these, and we do have vacancies on our committee too, so if you would like to come and find out more, please get in touch. Let’s harness that commitment and energy and keep fighting to make sure that this is an amazing place to work, with amazing colleagues!
 
Sally
 
 
Sally Pellow
 
Secretary
Reading UCU

Reminder to vote on UUK proposal

Have you voted in the ballot?  If not, PLEASE vote.  In any ballot result it’s essential that everyone has been able to state their views and contribute to the overall result: there is nothing worse than a poor turnout which then means that the overall result is not necessarily representative. Many of you have already told me that you’re reading all the tweets, blogs, and emails that are being sent out by many of our fellow union members (and some non-members) and I doubt I’ve spotted anything that you’ve missed: but https://ussbriefs.com/ collates (currently) seventeen different papers written by a number of academics (including our own Deepa Govindarajan Driver), with varying viewpoints from ‘accept’ to ‘reject’.

In simple terms, though, a vote of NO means that you are committing to further strike action in May, during exams and marking, and to further discussions about the shape of our pensions; a vote of YES means that strike action (including ASOS) will be suspended whilst negotiations resume on the basis of the UUK proposal.

Voting closes at 2.00pm tomorrow, Friday 13th April!

RUCU General Meeting on USS dispute

Please put the RUCU General Meeting next Wednesday (21st March) in your diary! We hope to see you all there.

Location: Van Emden, Edith Morley
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Date 21.03.18

Please do everything you can to attend! Events and developments are moving very fast and it is vital that we address these issues together. This will be an opportunity to discuss where we are and where we are going in terms of the USS dispute.

Thank you

180301 Latest update for Reading UCU Members

Dear all,
 
Sorry I didn’t email yesterday afternoon – I was utterly exhausted!  But what a day. 
 
Before I tell you about everything else, please do now email John Brady to confirm that you took strike action this week, ie Monday to Wednesday.  You should already have emailed him about last week (Thursday and Friday).  Same instructions as in my Friday email: and if you are not declaring strike action to HR because you were off sick, on annual leave, or retired (etc) then please do consider making a donation to the Fighting Fund as your way of adding support on those days.    
 
If you have not set up forwarding of emails from me, please do so now that you are back at your desk – anything sent to rucu@lists.reading.ac.uk and it would also be useful to add in anything sent by me directly, too (s.j.pellow@reading.ac.uk).  If you haven’t already done this, you may well be working through a string of long emails from me!
 
Yesterday we picketed, as before, at all five entry points to the two campuses, then, together with the banner, the pickets at four of the entry points marched round to the main entrance at Shinfield Road, where we were joined by students too.  We linked together and formed a longchain across the fencing outside campus and it looked amazing – and that’s us, in the photo on the email yesterday from Sally Hunt, sent round the country to all members!  We counted over 150 people. You can see more photos on both our Facebook page and on the Twitter account (links are on the Branch website in my signature below).  Once the photos had been taken, we then had an impromptu march to Whiteknights House where we circled the building, singing and chanting.  Lots of people in the building waved and gave us supportive thumbs up, and beamed at us.  Lastly, a proportion of the mass march went upstairs to the VC’s office to see if he was in and would come out to speak to us: but he was elsewhere at a meeting.  He did email me later to apologise that he had missed us and to say that he would come out and see us on the picket lines next week.
 
After that, a large group of us went up to London for the Rally for Education which was a massive rally starting from Malet Street (near the British Museum) and walking steadily to Parliament Square.  The snow was heavy at the start of the march and the roads were icy and slushy.  More colleagues joined us at stages on the journey up and even at the march and we were proud to keep our University of Reading UCU banner high, with a great turnout – I think there may have been 30 of us from Reading.  We had a particular shout out at the start of the march and a huge cheer from everyone else.  Again, we’ve posted some photos on Twitter and Facebook.  We didn’t all manage to get into Westminster Hall to hear the speakers – the crowd was just too big! 
 
Today and tomorrow, we are back at work, but taking action short of a strike (ASOS) which is the same as working to contract, with one exception: that you also refuse to reschedule classes or meetings that have been missed because of strike action.  There is detail on the UCU FAQs athttps://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-action-faqs#4 onwards – please do read them all carefully.  Our recommendation is that you do not actively inform HR or management that you are taking action short of a strike, because in the overwhelming majority of cases you will simply be working to contract: but if taking action short of a strike, HR have said they reserve the right to make a deduction from your pay.  Working to contract is not liable to deductions. In our view, it is incumbent upon management to prove that you are taking action short of a strike. It would be incredibly difficult to reschedule many classes, because of clashes with student timetables and room bookings.  If you need to have more detailed advice on your particular circumstances, we will be running a drop in session today as usual at 1.00 in the Union office. All of you lovely new members – this is on the first floor of JJ Thomson, in room 105, where our branch administrator, Colette Maxfield, can be found on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We supply coffee and tea.  I may have eaten all the Jaffa cakes, mind you…
 
You will have seen that we are able to report progress on the dispute and that ACAS will commence negotiations with both sides from Monday.  Sally Hunt has emailed you with details of the proposal put forward by UCU which maintains our defined benefits pension.  At the moment, though, we simply have a promise from the employers that they will come to talks: that’s not enough yet to suspend or cancel strike action, so we are still on strike next week from Monday to Thursday.  But you are all amazing: we wouldn’t have got to this stage if you hadn’t all been willing to make this sacrifice and demonstrate to our employers how strongly you all feel.  This is real solidarity and it is wonderful to stand together with you all, making sure that we can ensure the future of the sector and that we can continue to attract superb and committed staff to teaching and research in universities.
 
Teach outs!  These will take place next week: and for a starting timetable, please go tohttps://www.facebook.com/rdgucu.teachout and please tell all your students, today and tomorrow, about them.  We’re also putting the timetable onto the branch website below.  There is also a gmail account for this – ru4educationunlimited@gmail.com.  If you’ve got suggestions, offers of assistance or queries, please contact the team on that email address, which is being run by Richard, Natalie and Mary. The teach outs sound wonderful – creative, energetic and entertaining. Teaching at its purest!
 
I am due to go to London today for a branch meeting but it’s looking iffy as the trains are not running from where I live: I will report back though if I can make it.  Keep safe, all of you, in the snow.  And enjoy a calmer day!
 
Sally Pellow
 
Secretary
Reading UCU

180223 Update for Reading UCU Members

The first block of strike action has completed; the second block starts on Monday for three days. In line with the request from John Brady, please now email him on j.j.brady@reading.ac.uk to confirm that you have taken strike action. But remember – we are complying with his request but can still be a little disruptive!
If you have been unable to take strike action because you are off sick, or on prebooked annual leave, or are abroad, or even retired, please still email him. We would much rather that he receives an avalanche of emails, which demonstrate the level of support for the strike. Make sure you say here that you would have been on strike if it had not been for being on leave or off sick or retired etc.  If you have colleagues who are not union members, it would still be useful if they also emailed him and confirmed that they have not taken strike action. Do use the opportunity to add any further detail, such as your thoughts on how the pension changes would affect you.
If you are part time, or are on hourly paid contracts, please give him as much detail as possible: for example say that you would normally work for 3 hours on a Thursday and none on a Friday, so you took strike action on Thursday but none on Friday: and then add that you normally work eg 11 hours each week. Don’t worry if this is complex or makes your email quite long – this is relevant detail.
Let him know your name and department. His team will need to look you up to get your staff number – don’t provide that.
If you can use an email address which is not your normal work address, please also do this.
And if you would prefer to send two emails, one for each day, please do so!

Teachouts organised by UCU’s Reading branch

Please click to enlarge!