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RUCU Open Letter in response to the article in The Guardian

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Letter to VC 11 Feb 19

THE: ‘Warning signals ignored’ over branch campus losses

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2019 Updates (USS, Malaysia, Pay Ballot)

A new term begins, and we have so much news for you!
First of all, there has been a lot of movement, particularly in the last week, related to USS.  You will remember that the JEP made recommendations to USS which were supported by UUK. However, USS has announced that they are not fully accepting those recommendations: we are, at least, still safely back in having our defined contributions pensions, but where the JEP recommended that no increases of contributions would be necessary, USS has said they do want to increase.  It’s a small amount in comparison with what they had originally said – but it’s more than we (or the employers) are paying at the moment.  There’s a lot of analysis out there to look at, if you would like to see more details: as before, please look at what USS Briefs are saying ( and Mike Otsuka ( – particularly ).  UCU is now asking us all to contact the acting VC to urge him to call for the full implementation of JEP, to respond positively with a view to securing the lowest contributions possible to discussions around contingency, and to support further work by JEP to make proposals for a methodology for future valuations which would potentially have the support of all sides.  Please do email or write to Professor van de Noort: or if you happen to see him in a meeting, take the opportunity to mention this.
Secondly, with the publication of the University’s accounts towards the end of last term, there has been an interest from journalists in the sector, particularly in the light of the announcement by several universities, not just ours, about either voluntary or compulsory redundancies.  Reading had the honour of leaping immediately to the eye, given the comments in the accounts about the huge amount of money being lost in Malaysia.  The Times Higher Education magazine last week published a full page article on Reading and Malaysia which was scathing about the way in which “Universities tend to overestimate enrolments and underestimate the difficulty in navigating the local environment”.  You can read the article at
Next, we’ll be starting a bit of a push soon to get the vote out for the pay and equality ballot.  This opens on 15 January, so you will be finding your voting papers arrive soon.  Please check that your details are correct on the MyUCU web pages, or you are welcome to contact Colette to check this too.  Papers will be sent out to the address given for any formal documentation, and will only be sent to those who are eligible to vote, so if your membership is of a level which doesn’t entitle you to vote, you won’t receive papers. Can you help?  We’ll be looking for people who can simply check with their colleagues that a) anticipated voting papers have arrived and b) that the colleague hasn’t forgotten about them and left them on a desk without voting.  We’ve got a Get The Vote Out meeting scheduled for Thursday 17 January from 1.00 to 2.00 in Chancellors G08 to which we will be inviting reps and previous GTVO volunteers: please come too if you would like to join that group.  As ever, we urge you to vote: we want to know for certain what you think. 
Lastly, a few updates from us on the Committee.  We’re still finding that we’re getting a huge amount of casework which is taking up a good deal of time: if you might be inclined to dip a toe in the water to help with this, we (and all the members) would be unendingly grateful.  We’re also working very hard on our own claim against the university, which is currently involving a lot of analysis of data and fortnightly meetings with senior management.  And we’re working on the background to the University’s announcements about voluntary redundancy, and analysing figures, looking at published statements for clues about direction, and doing our utmost to try to prevent them from even thinking of moving onto compulsory redundancy. There are only ten of us, and we all have heavy work commitments too – so if you think you can spare any time at all to help, please shout!

‘The Unpaid Women’s Lunch’ is front page of The Spark!

The Gender Pay Gap Lunch, 16th October!

The University of Reading has a 19.6% gender pay gap ( ) and on October 16th we hit the date after which women staff are no longer paid compared to men (see for the calculation of this date: The University has not committed to any formal plan or schedule to eliminate this pay gap, but only ‘set institutional targets to address the gender imbalance in senior roles’ by 2020. Thus we are addressing this issue as one of the aspects of our local claim, just submitted to the University.


To mark this day women members joined together and had their lunch on October 16th from 1 pm to 2 pm on the lawn in front of Whiteknights House to make visible to the University how much it relies on unpaid (from October 16th onwards) women’s labour.

Gender Pay Gap Lunch 16th October

Local Pay and Equality Claim 2018/19

We’re pleased to be able to tell you all that we have submitted our Local Pay and Equality Claim to the University. You will recall that at the Annual General Meeting in June, you gave us a mandate to submit a claim to ask the University to tackle three problems in particular: the gender pay gap, casualisation, and grade drift. The claim we submitted ton 24th September 2018 demands:
1) A commitment and strategy to close the gender pay gap at the University of Reading by 2020.
2) The addressing and monitoring of the use of precarious contracts of employment through the establishment of a joint-forum.
3) A collective agreement to transfer precariously employed staff onto permanent contracts of employment.
4) Commitment to specific financial investment to support the creation of more secure contracts of employment across the University.
5) Commitment to review arrangements for the employment of sessional and hourly-paid members of staff.
6) Commitment to the principle of paying the “rate for the job” and ensuring equal pay for work of equal value across the University.
You can download or read the full local claim document on our blog:
Be prepared for our emails relating to campaigns and updates on progress on these demands over the next few months! We have requested a special Joint Negotiation Committee meeting, to be scheduled within the next four weeks, to arrange setting up negotiation committees and a timescale for negotiation and conclusion. We will let you know when this meeting will take place.
The next thing you can do to engage with these concerns in support of our claim is to come along to the two meetings we organised during next week with UCU National Executive Committee members:
– Tuesday 25th September: 13:00 Chancellor’s G07 Anti-Casualisation meeting with Jonathan White, UCU Bargaining Policy & Negotiations Official
– Thursday 27th September: 13:00 Chancellor’s G05 Pay Dispute Meeting with NEC Denis Nicole
You are currently being balloted about the national pay claim and dispute (have you voted? Don’t forget to post your ballot paper!). The national pay claim covers not only adjustments to our pay which has suffered a real-term decrease against inflation and rising living costs. It also asks employers to address gender pay equality, workloads and precarious contracts.  There are therefore strong links between negotiations and UCU campaigns nationally and our local claim. This will help to reinforce the message to employers that tackling these issues is overdue!
Please do come along to these meetings to get the updates from UCU nationally, and also for a brief update on our local claim.
Best wishes,
Reading UCU committee

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


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
– 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 (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