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November, 2020:

UCU Approval to ballot members on Claim Agreement

I’m forwarding, below, an email which I was delighted to receive yesterday from Moray, the Regional Official, to confirm that the details of the branch Claim have now been approved by the UCU Ratification Panel. When a branch enters into a formal claim against the employer, then reaches an agreement, this must be scrutinised by the team at UCU to make sure that all aspects have been considered and covered: you will see that Moray has listed, in his email, the very positive comments received on the claim documentation.

This has been a huge amount of work, led by Melani Schroeter, and assisted in particular by Rita Balestrini and Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. Their commitment to getting the very best deal for all members has been immeasurable and I know the whole branch will be deeply grateful for all their efforts. This agreement makes a huge step forward in the working conditions of those who have been employed on part time and precarious contracts: this is a massive achievement. To remind you, the details of the claim can be found at, and the agreement to date covers items 2 to 6 on that list.

To get this far, it took a considerable number of meetings, and the resolution of the issues that have arisen will take a number more meetings. You will note that we have not yet agreed anything in relation to the gender pay gap: this is the final element of the claim, and we will pick up the threads of that in the new year.

As this is a formal agreement, we will now need to ballot members for acceptance of the proposed agreement: we’ll be getting that ballot underway as soon as possible and will aim to have it completed by the end of the month. Moray has already notified the University that the proposal has passed the ratification process.

As soon as we have details of the timing of the ballot, we’ll call an open meeting to talk through the implications of the agreement, and we’ll confirm the full details.


Branch President

Dear Sally,

I am writing to you as Chair of Reading UCU to give you an update on the Ratification by UCU of the draft agreement negotiated by Reading UCU with University of Reading in response to the claim from the Branch.

I have been notified by Paul Bridge, UCU National Head of HE, this morning that the Claim Agreement has been approved and ratified by UCU.

There was some feedback from the Ratification Process, and this was all positive. It was welcomed that the agreement had the following features:

· The clear statement that sessional contact should only be used in very defined circumstances;

· The multiplier being used (x3);

· The proposal to assess all current sessional staff roles for fractional contracts;

· The offer of a fractional contracts for staff working more than 0.2 FTE

· The very clear limits of responsibility for grade 6 roles;

· It should also be noted that the grading structure in Reading is more ‘generous’ at Grade 6 than most institutions (point 27 – 37).

I was also asked to convey thanks and congratulations to the colleagues from Reading UCU that had developed the claim and worked on the negotiations.

I would be grateful if you could pass on this email to colleagues on the Reading UCU committee.

I will be working to schedule a ballot of all members at Reading UCU, but I am mindful that there is a considerable demand from members to move ahead with the agreement. I will therefore seek to organise the ballot as quickly as possible, with the objective of completing the ballot process by the end of November 2020.

I hope that this is a useful update.

Update on COVID proposed agreement with the University

Ian Bland and Sally Pellow attended a follow up meeting with the Staff Forum and the University on 3rd November as part of the process of implementing the proposed agreement that members voted to accept earlier last month.

It’s good news: the current student numbers, as we all know from our own assessments, are better than expected, and the losses of student fees/cost of accommodation resulting from withdrawals are less than anticipated. This means that on the current figures, we agreed this afternoon that there is no need to plan to implement the tiered pay cuts. This is a cautious promise: the decision will be reviewed formally in early February, as agreed in the University’s proposal, and we’re all keenly aware of how events are changing daily. It’s worth adding that if any pay cut from February onwards were to be put in place, the HR team would have to start now with contacting staff and agreeing that temporary change to contracts. They are not planning to do this.

The situation with the proposed pay freeze is more complex. The implications of the national 0% pay offer for this financial year mean that we have a de facto pay freeze anyway, although nationally UCU continues to campaign for a meaningful pay rise. This also means that there are no current plans to withdraw temporarily from the JNCHES process of national pay bargaining next year.

Discussions will be continuing through the term on the other aspects of the agreement. This will include a number of additional measures, including specific proposals on governance reforms. We will obviously review these and consult with you as these emerge.

In other words, after the threat earlier this year of up to 500 redundancies, we have succeeded so far in both avoiding redundancies as a result of Covid, and in having any impact on staff pay; and in the process we have agreed a range of measures which we feel will strengthen members’ involvement in the decision making of the University. Thank you for all of your help in reviewing the initial plans, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses, and supporting your negotiators.

Sally and Ian