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March, 2018:

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 and it would also be useful to add in anything sent by me directly, too (  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 at 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 to 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 –  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
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 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!