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July, 2016:

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:


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

RUCU Ballot Results: Contracts and Procedures

Dear Members,

Thank you to all those who voted in our recent Ballots. It was very important to send out a strong message to the University regarding these issues; making your voice heard does make a difference!  
We are now able to give you the results of the RUCU ballot over Contracts and Procedures, which closed Tuesday 12th July at 5pm.
Three questions were asked: the first two were asked of all members; the third question was asked of academic staff only.
1   Do you accept the removal of Statutes covering academic staff and the replacement of them by new procedures?
YES: 19.0%          NO: 81.0%
2    Regardless of where they are placed, do you agree with the wording of the new procedures?
YES: 23.3%          NO: 76.7%
3    Do you accept the new academic contract?
YES: 34.3%          NO: 65.7%

We will keep you updated as to the next steps in this process. Please let us know if you have any questions.



FAQ: Contract and Procedure Ballots July 2016

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

Q. Under Statutes, appeals against redundancy are currently heard by a Barrister. Would it be possible to still have a Barrister included in the process as part of the proposed Procedures?

A. Yes this is possible. Statutes are a ‘box’ to keep procedures in, so this is a point that could be negotiated. RUCU has continually requested the inclusion of external legal representation but this has so far been refused by the University. If members voted ‘No’ to Procedures then this would be a point that could receive further negotiation. We will continue to argue that a Barrister should hear appeals under Procedures.

Q. Why is the university pushing for the removal of Statutes when employment tribunals are a very      public process that could tarnish the reputation of the University?

A. It will be much easier and quicker for the university to restructure groups and areas of staff under the new Procedures. However, due to recent changes, access to employment tribunals is also more difficult and the University will be aware of this and able to take advantage of the situation.

Q. Why would the University pursue the removal of Statutes when it will make contracts less internationally competitive?

A. Yes there will be reputational damage to the University if the removal of Statues results in more staff members being fired from the University. The University really needs to consider this.

Q. Is the University harmonising contracts?

A. The university is harmonising procedures and modifying contracts. The University is having to modify contracts because Statutes are mentioned in Academic staff contracts. As some staff are covered under Statutes and some are not, harmonising the procedures means that the procedures would then be relevant to all staff.

Q. If staff vote ‘No’ in the current ballots, what will be the consequences?

A. When staff voted ‘No’ in the previous ballots in 2015, negotiations were reopened. The negotiation process is now exhausted from the University and UCU perspective. A ‘No’ vote at this point would trigger an official Dispute Procedure. The Dispute Procedure will commence with a JNC Meeting that has a single item on the agenda: the dispute. It would be essential at this point for UCU negotiators to request specific and concrete amendments to the proposals; for example, the inclusion of an independent Barrister within procedures, or for procedures to be contractual so that they cannot be changed easily. If both parties fail to agree at this point then another meeting with different University and UCU representatives is arranged to hear the evidence. Potentially if no agreement is reached at this point, ACAS conciliation may be organised if both sides agree to this process. If the University did not agree to ACAS talks then there could be a UCU Ballot on whether to go forward with Industrial Action.

Q. What would the University make of a small turn out to the UCU Ballots?

A. It is essential that members vote in good numbers in order to present a strong case to the university.

Q. In the draft of the new contracts, is the sub-clause 12.1.3 (The University may, in certain circumstances, terminate your employment with immediate effect without notice…if -12.1.3- you cease to be eligible to work in the United Kingdom ) required by law or is it a UoR addition?

A. Unfortunately, such a statement is expressly required to be added by UK immigration law.  It is a relatively recent thing (last 5 years or so), but does also apply retrospectively to existing contracts, such is the nature of the particular legislation. It is unsettling, especially in the light of current developments, but even if it were not mentioned in the contract, it would still apply.

Q. There have been some improvements to Clause 12, but the wording surrounding the issue of breaches is vague and it appears that any sort of possibility can lead to termination of employment.

A. Contractual inclusions cannot rise above law, and staff are still protected by laws such as the Discrimination Act and can act against Constructive Dismissal. The courts decide whether behaviour was Gross Misconduct and whether there has been a case for wrongful dismissal.