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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

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