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Update – Message to Members 14/08/20

The last few days of negotiations have been very intense, but I am now able to confirm that the negotiating team has reached a point at which we believe that we can win no further concessions from the University. The UCU negotiators have concluded that these proposals are the best achievable in negotiations. We believe that, through negotiations, UCU has managed to considerably change the proposals from those first tabled by University of Reading in June 2020. UCU succeeded in getting the University to agree to a number of points which they had previously been unwilling to concede.

We are now in a position where we will be putting the University’s proposal to you for your decision. Their proposal, along with a Memorandum of Understanding, were scheduled to be released at 3.30 today on the University website and you will find these documents on our blog at https://reading.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2020/08/200813-University-of-Reading-CG-final-proposal-13Aug20.pdf and https://reading.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2020/08/200813-MoU-University-of-Reading-UCU-Staff-Forum.pdf.

In broad terms, the proposal involves a pay freeze for three years and a tiered pay reduction for one year to take effect from February 2021 if the University’s losses, as a result of COVID-19, are so high that they cannot be covered by reserves. Importantly, it eliminates the University’s previous threat to cover the costs of COVID-19 by making staff compulsorily redundant and makes any cuts contingent on the actual position of the University, once student numbers have been confirmed.

Through our negotiations, we gained concessions on involvement in and scrutiny of the decision-making processes of the University. A voluntary redundancy scheme will be opened – details to be confirmed – along with an offer to cut working hours in exchange for that tiered pay reduction.

We have confirmation that money coming in will be paid to staff as a priority over any repayments to banks, lenders or other liabilities. We have confirmation that if the numbers are better than anticipated, then the proposed pay reductions will be lessened or removed.

Despite what the VC initially implied in his talk today, this has not been agreed.

Nothing can be agreed by UCU until there has been a ballot of all UCU members employed at University of Reading, the result of which supports UCU entering into an agreement with the University.

We’ll be sending out plenty of information over the coming weeks, including details of what the consequences will be of a ballot result which either accepts or rejects the proposal.

Ultimately, though, this is a decision which you, individually, will need to make for yourself: and we will be exhorting you to make sure that you do vote. If you have colleagues who are not in the union, please encourage them to join (www.ucu.org.uk/join) in order to have a say in this process: new members will of course be entitled to a vote. As we are the only recognised union for grades 6 to 9+ in terms of collective representation, our ballot result will affect all staff in those groups regardless of their union membership. You are welcome to forward this email to colleagues.

We won’t ask you to make a decision on the proposal until the situation is clearer. So we will be launching a secure e-ballot on this, with a timetable (to be confirmed) that the ballot would commence on Wednesday 16 September, closing at midday on 9 October 2020. This will mean it straddles the first week or so of term, and you will have a very clear picture of student numbers and the impact of the pandemic at that point.

Thank you for the feedback you’ve been providing so far. Keep passing on your comments.

Sally

Sally Pellow

Branch President, Reading UCU

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