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Getting Ballot Ready

You will have hopefully seen HQ comms at the start of July detailing that nationally elected reps have agreed a strategy for the USS and Four Fights campaigns for 2022/23.

In summary, UCU is calling on UUK to withdraw their imposed benefit cuts to the USS pension and to carry out a new evidence-based valuation.

UCU is rejecting the 3% pay offer from the employers and is seeking a substantial pay increase alongside action to close equality pay gaps, eliminate casualisation and precarious work and to address excessive workloads. After a meeting on the 14th of July with the employer representatives (UCEA), Vice chancellors again failed to make an improved offer on pay.

If UCU claims are not met by the employers, it has been agreed nationally that all affected UCU branches will begin aggregated ballots this Autumn. This comes at a time when ballots in FE have just achieved outstanding results relating to a dispute involving pay, workload, and professional respect.

You can help us by checking that your records are correct on ‘My UCU‘. Please check that you have the following correct information:

1. The postal address you want future voting papers to be sent to

2. Your correct current Branch name

3. Your correct current preferred email

4. Your correct current preferred mobile phone number

5. That you are on the correct membership category: (student/standard free/full/retired/attached)

We will keep you updated on developments (and do keep an eye out for the UCU ‘Friday emails,’ which provide members with a good weekly roundup of all campaigns and other issues).

RUCU Election Result

We are updating you on the results of the recent election. The President position was the only contested role this year, and the result of the local ballot was as follows:

The President 

Deepa Govindarajan Driver

Sally Pellow                       ELECTED 

Thank you to the candidates that stood for election, and thanks to the members who voted in this democratic process.

The format of the new committee that will take office with immediate effect can be found here: Branch Committee 2022-2023 – Reading University UCU

As you can see, there are a number of positions still vacant, both as Ordinary Committee members (without portfolio) and Branch Officer roles (for more information on the Officer roles, you can find summaries in our Local Rules: Local rules – Reading University UCU).

We also had a nomination from David Field at the AGM for the Vice President role.

Thanks everybody.

 

Reading UCU Elections 2022

We are updating you as to the recent nomination process for RUCU Committee roles, prior to the RUCU AGM on 9th June. The nominations at the end of this email were uncontested, and the format of the new committee will be announced formally at the AGM.

In addition to these uncontested roles, the Returning Officer received two valid nominations for the post of Reading UCU President, which means that Reading UCU will be holding an online election for this position, facilitated by our Regional Office and UCU HQ.

 

The election will open on Thursday 26 May.  The vote will be open until 11am on Thursday 9 June 2002. We expect to be able to inform members of the result of this election at the Branch AGM.

In order to vote, you will receive an individualised link from UCU HQ to the email account that you have registered as your UCU contact address. Please check your junk/’other’ folder if you do not receive this link in your inbox. To check which email account you have registered for UCU HQ, please click here (members who have forgotten their membership number, in order to access MyUCU, can click here).

Voting eligibility is defined as full standard, standard free, retired and attached members. (UCU members in the following categories are not eligible to vote: student).  
If you are a student, please do check that you are on the correct membership category, as employed postgraduates on the ‘full free membership/standard free’ are eligible to vote. More information on student membership categories is outlined here  
All members can check that they are in the correct membership category, and/or update records in order to transfer to a different category, via MyUCU.

The deadline for requesting replacement voting links is 12:00 noon Thursday 2nd June. This date also applies to those members who need to update their membership category via MyUCU in order to receive a voting link. In both cases, please contact the RUCU Branch Administrator by 12:00 noon Thursday 2nd June: cmaxfield@ucu.org.uk

There are a number of positions on the Reading UCU Branch Committee which are still available to Reading UCU members.  We will give more information about these roles, and how members can get involved, at the Reading UCU Branch AGM which will be taking place on Thursday 9 June 2022.

We would very much appreciate your participation in this democratic process.  Please use your vote in these elections.

Uncontested Reading UCU Nominations:

The Treasurer

Simone Knox

The Secretary

Nat Willmott

The Equality Officer

Ellen Owens

The Anti-casualisation officer

Rita Balestrini

* Sally Pellow and Deepa G Driver will automatically be on the Reading UCU Branch Committee as NEC Ex Officio Committee members. 

RUCU AGM Announcement: 9th June

Dear RUCU members,

We are sending you an invite to the Reading UCU Annual General Meeting 2022. 

This is the formal announcement, required under local rules (https://reading.web.ucu.org.uk/local-rules/), of the meeting which will take place on Thursday the 9th of June. An agenda will be circulated for the meeting 14 days beforehand, by the 26th of May, as also required under local rules. We will need to have receive any items for the agenda, including motions, by 5pm on 24th of May.

If you would like to participate more in the Branch’s work, please consider standing for election as an ordinary Committee member or as one of the Branch Officers. If you would like more information, there is a description of the responsibilities of the roles currently in the Local rules of our website at www.reading.web.ucu.org.uk in section 8, or have a chat with one of the existing Committee members (names and contact details also on the website). 

Our Returning Officer, Moray McAulay (Southern UCU Regional Official), will need to receive all nominations by 12 noon Thursday the 12th of May. ​Please send your nominations to Colette Maxfield, the Branch Administrator, who will pass them on to the returning officer. Nomination forms are available on the Branch website at https://reading.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2022/04/RUCU-Nomination-form-for-Committee-and-Officers-2022-23.docx

Each nomination should be supported by two members of the Branch. Please include the two members in your email (in cc), so that they can email to confirm support for the nomination. Positions for which there is only one candidate will be elected unopposed, while any elections required will be carried out through an online ballot of members in the weeks between the close of nominations and the AGM.

Please do let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you everybody and take care

Reading UCU

Strike Information March 2022

UCU HQ Strike FAQshttps://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs

Physical Pickets

Please do email to let us know if you plan to come along to the physical picket lines. We are asking you to email in as we will be forwarding all ‘in person’ picketers detailed UCU legal/Covid guidance. In the first instance, can picketers please make their way to the Shinfield Road entrance and find a picket supervisor. We will be picketing between 11:30-13:30 on the following days of industrial action: Wed 23, Thurs 24 and Fri 25 March. The first six members to arrive will be given ‘Picket’ armbands, and we’ll cover the main road entrance plus the path from the bus stop past the Sports Centre. Supporters are very welcome to pop by and say hello.  Please note, we are not running physical pickets on Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 March.

Virtual Pickets

Please find the UCU Teams link in a recent members email:

Wed 23: 09:00-10:00

Thurs 24: 09:00-10:00

Fri 25: 11:00-12:00

Mon 28: 09:00-10:00

Tues 29: 09:00-10:00

Emails and Outlook forwarding

Please find guidance here on how to set up auto forwarding during the strike days if your usual mode of communication for Reading UCU is your work email. This means you will receive any updates from us without having to access your work email account. Please note, if the redirect is not working, please try setting the redirect rule to work for the following email address also: rucu-bounces@lists.reading.ac.uk, as well as adding the email addresses of RUCU, our Branch Officers (Sally, Nat) and our administrator (Colette), to your ‘safe list’ in outlook.

Resources for students

-USS FAQs (includes What is the USS dispute about?) https://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-faqs-NUS petition: Students stand in solidarity with UCU’s demands. Senior managers must agree to avoid disruption. https://www.nus.org.uk/articles/student-views-on-ucu-strikes-revealed-by-nus

Strike out-of-office

Members may want to use the following template, checked by our Regional Office:

I am not able to check email today as members of Reading UCU are taking industrial action, as part of a national dispute, in opposition to the devastating cuts to our pension scheme. The UCU USS modeller indicates that a typical USS member at point 37 of the current higher education pay spine would suffer a 35% cut to the guaranteed retirement benefits which they would build up between the projected date for implementation of the proposals and their retirement. Members of Reading UCU will be on strike on Wed 23, Thu 24, Fri 25 March, plus Mon 28 & Tues 29 March. If you would like more information about the dispute, please go to https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss. If you are a student, please visit the NUS petition here: https://email-nus.org.uk/p/5BGA-9DB/strike-letter

Informing the University about your strike action

Members are under no obligation to inform HR, or indeed any other member of staff, about their intentions to undertake strike action if you are going to be on strike in the next two weeks. If a manager asks, you can politely decline to answer that question in advance of taking part in any forthcoming action.Members also do not need to notify the Director of HR, or anyone else, immediately after every day of strike action. Our days of strike action are on Wed 23, Thu 24, Fri 25 March, plus Mon 28 & Tues 29 March. After that period of strike action, if full time, your next day of work would be 30 March. That’s the day to confirm that you have taken part in action, once you have been asked to notify. If you work part-time, then it would be the next day that you are scheduled to work after strike action. See the relevant UCU Strike FAQ here: https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs

Action Short of A Strike

Please see the ASOS FAQ and relevant Reclaim our time: ASOS campaign pages on the national UCU website here:https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs#Taking-action-short-of-a-strike

Members should note that UCU has provided notice to University of Reading, that expands the scope of the ASOS that we are asking members to participate in at University of Reading. We ask members to note that the ASOS now includes:

• removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action

• not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action

In terms of ​rescheduling, the national UCU FAQs linked above state that by ‘lectures or classes’ we mean any activity between any UCU member and a student or group of students which involves any instruction, tuition, communicating or sharing of knowledge or guidance.

This includes teaching which would have taken place on one of UCU’s strike days and covers instructional activities undertaken by UCU members who are professional services staff, as well as academic staff. You should, if asked, refuse to reschedule such sessions, stating that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.

If someone else such as a line manager or head of department has already scheduled your classes, the FAQ state that once the action has started you should not teach rescheduled classes whoever has rescheduled them.

The national UCU FAQS also outline that the reasonability of any request will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If in doubt, or if your actions are challenged by someone senior to you, you should temporarily suspend your action and contact your branch who will seek further advice.

As a result, please do not hesitate to get in touch for support if you need to, for example by contacting the Branch Administrator in the first instance. We can ask for additional guidance from our regional office on your behalf.

UCU Picketing guidance

What is the law on picketing? UCU – HE disputes FAQs

UCU Covid advice for picketers

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs#Covid19-health-andsafety-picketing-advice

Slides For USS Open Meeting Wednesday 16th March

Slides: USS Pensions Dispute meeting 16 Mar 22

For further questions on this slide presentation, please contact:

Branch President: Sally Pellow s.j.pellow@reading.ac.uk

Branch Secretary: Nat Willmott n.v.p.willmott@reading.ac.uk

Reading UCU Comments on USS Pension

This is a message from the Branch President of Reading UCU for all colleagues,
in response to the message from Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort posted
on the staff portal here.

On 22 February 2022 the Chair of the USS Joint Negotiating Committee, Judith
Fish, used her casting vote to determine that proposals put forward by
Universities UK (UUK) last summer should be implemented from 1 April 2022.
The UUK proposals were tabled at the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC)
at its meeting on 31 August 2021 where the employers voted for the proposal,
and the Chair used their casting vote to make the final decision. See here for
the UCU report of the meeting.

These changes, effective from 1 April 2022, have been calculated by UCU and
USS as being detrimental to the final pensions received by those in the
scheme: typically, the losses will range from 10% of final pension for those
nearing retirement, to 51% of final pension for those starting out in the sector.
Staff can review their own likely losses at the USS supplied modeller or at the
UCU modeller or can compare the losses at a separate app produced by some
staff at Bristol University. The changes were designed to respond to
predictions of a significant loss in the future value of the pension scheme: this
was based on a snapshot valuation of the scheme undertaken on 31 March
2020 (during the first lockdown).

Benefits accrued to 1 April 2022 will remain unaffected.

UCU sought to table a counter proposal at that August meeting, but the
employers’ representatives refused to agree to underwrite those proposals
(the covenant support) which meant that the proposals could not be formally
presented to the USS JNC for consideration and voting. As the proposals could
not be formally presented and were unviable without the covenant support,
they could not be shared with the wider group of members or employers.
In January this year, UCU put forward a new alternative approach, which would
involve an increase in contribution from both staff and employers for a short
period, pending a revaluation of the scheme. The timing of this was based on
the ending of the consultation of USS members on employers’ benefit cuts: the
consultation closed in January. The consultation indicated a very strong
preference from members to protect current benefits. Details of the new
alternative proposal are laid out in this article from 26 January 2022: the
details make clear that the proposals are limited to a temporary increase in
employer contribution to rise no higher than 25.2%, pending a new formal
valuation of the pension scheme.

UUK then sought the views of their members at their 140 universities, whilst
adding their own commentary to the proposals, although there appears to
have been some delay before they did so. A number of elements were
misrepresented to employers, in particular the extent to which the employer
contributions might rise. For a detailed rebuttal of these misrepresentations,
see UCU General Secretary Jo Grady’s response where she confirms that UUK
now accept that there would not be any rise beyond 25.2%, and certainly not
to the 29.1% suggested in Professor Van de Noort’s commentary. A further
commentary is available at ‘UCU proposals for securing the future of USS
following the 2020 valuation’ where UUK’s own override is clarified; also the
explanatory blog by Michael Otsuka, one of the alternate USS negotiators, at ‘A simple means of ensuring that rates are capped at 25.2% and 9.8% from 1 April
2023′.

As we all know, investments are subject to fluctuations and there are no
guarantees that a future valuation of the pension fund would show an
improvement. Valuations are subject to the oversight of the Pensions
Regulator and are obliged to take a prudent view. Currently, the fund has total
assets of £89.3bn and contributions coming in are greater than the amount
being paid out to members. USS’s own calculations, referenced here in a
Medium post by one of the negotiators show that the calculated deficit fell
from £14bn to £3bn in the period since the 2020 valuation.

Whilst there is obviously no guarantee that a valuation in April 2023 would
show an improvement, the reality is that the indications are clearly favourable.
Further research by staff at Cambridge University challenges the assumption of
any projected deficit and can be viewed here together with a link to a
recording of an open meeting. In the High Court this week, a legal challenge to
the USS directors over the 2020 valuation was raised by a group of academics
and they have obtained court permission to move to a full hearing: see details
here.

We would be very concerned about suggestions that staff might be
discouraged from participating in the scheme.

We will be calling an open meeting shortly for USS members at Reading to
discuss this further.

Kind regards,
Sally
Sally Pellow
President, Reading UCU

Regional Office Advice Regarding Recent HR Email [Subject: UCU industrial action]

UCU’s own guidance states, after a period of strike action has taken place, that if your employer asks you to confirm whether or not you partook in the action you should respond honestly. Of course, what is not more clearly defined is what or “who” is meant by “the employer”.

Our UCU Regional Office understands that this a more recent and new development at University of Reading, that of HR emailing staff directly. Please read carefully the UCU’s FAQ on industrial action, as a number of the requests that HR outline in the message to staff are actually all covered by the ongoing ASOS mandate that we hold (i.e. not uploading materials related to lectures/seminars missed due to strike action). [For more information on our ASOS mandate, please check our up to date blog post here.]

If you have not yet responded to the University, you may want to email your line manager to inform them that you partook in strike action and on what days, in order to fulfil your obligations in this regard.

Action Short of A Strike Updated Guidance

Action Short of A Strike

Please see the ASOS FAQ and relevant Reclaim our time: ASOS campaign pages on the national UCU website here:
https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs#Taking-action-short-of-a-strike

Members should note that UCU has provided notice to University of Reading, that expands the scope of the ASOS that we are asking members to participate in at University of Reading. We ask members to note that the ASOS now includes:

• removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action

• not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action

In terms of ​rescheduling, the national UCU FAQs linked above state that by ‘lectures or classes’ we mean any activity between any UCU member and a student or group of students which involves any instruction, tuition, communicating or sharing of knowledge or guidance.

This includes teaching which would have taken place on one of UCU’s strike days and covers instructional activities undertaken by UCU members who are professional services staff, as well as academic staff. You should, if asked, refuse to reschedule such sessions, stating that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.

If someone else such as a line manager or head of department has already scheduled your classes, the FAQ state that once the action has started you should not teach rescheduled classes whoever has rescheduled them.

The national UCU FAQS also outline that the reasonability of any request will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If in doubt, or if your actions are challenged by someone senior to you, you should temporarily suspend your action and contact your branch who will seek further advice.

As a result, please do not hesitate to get in touch for support if you need to, for example by contacting the Branch Administrator in the first instance. We can ask for additional guidance from our regional office on your behalf.

Strike Information February 2022

UCU HQ Strike FAQs
https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs

Physical Pickets

Please do email to let us know if you plan to come along to the physical picket lines. We are asking you to email in as we will be forwarding all ‘in person’ picketers detailed UCU legal/Covid guidance. In the first instance, can picketers please make their way to the Shinfield Road entrance and find a picket supervisor. We will be picketing between 08:00-09:30 on each day of industrial action: 14 to 18 February and again on 21 & 22 February. The first six members to arrive will be given ‘Picket’ armbands, and we’ll cover the main road entrance plus the path from the bus stop past the Sports Centre. Supporters are very welcome to pop by and say hello.

14th February – Valentines strike day

As our first strike date is Valentine’s day, we shall be digging out our red and pink scarfs, hats and gloves. We will be handing out to members our wonderfully pink and warm UCU hats – available to members on a first come first serve basis. It is also HeartUnions week | TUC next week, so we are encouraging placards with USS related valentines slogans as well as twitter selfies/slogans ‘All I want from the University of Reading this Valentines day is to save my USS Pension….’ Don’t forget to tweet with @HeartUnions @ReadingUCU @UCU

Emails and Outlook forwarding

Please find guidance here on how to set up auto forwarding during the strike days if your usual mode of communication for Reading UCU is your work email. This means you will receive any updates from us without having to access your work email account. Please note, if the redirect is not working, please try setting the redirect rule to work for the following email address also: rucu-bounces@lists.reading.ac.uk, as well as adding the email addresses of RUCU, our Branch Officers (Sally, Nat) and our administrator (Colette), to your ‘safe list’ in outlook.

Strike Fund

UCU will be supporting members from the central Fighting Fund for this dispute. Daily rates will be £75 for members in UCU subscription bands F3-6 (those earning under £30,000) and £50 for members in bands F0-F2 (those earning £30,000 and over). All members participating in strike action will be able to claim for the second day of the strike action onwards. Our understanding is that because this is an ongoing dispute, members will be eligible to claim for the full seven days of this round of action. All details can be found here

If you know anyone who would like to donate to the UCU Fighting Fund, please forward the link: https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund

Resources for students

-USS FAQs (includes What is the USS dispute about?) https://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-faqs
-NUS petition: Students stand in solidarity with UCU’s demands. Senior managers must agree to avoid disruption. https://www.nus.org.uk/articles/student-views-on-ucu-strikes-revealed-by-nus

Strike out-of-office

Members may want to use the following template, checked by our Regional Office:

I am not able to check email today as members of Reading UCU are taking industrial action, as part of a national dispute, in opposition to the devastating cuts to our pension scheme. The UCU USS modeller indicates that a typical USS member at point 37 of the current higher education pay spine would suffer a 35% cut to the guaranteed retirement benefits which they would build up between the projected date for implementation of the proposals and their retirement. Members of Reading UCU will be on strike between 14 to 18 February and again on 21 & 22 February. If you would like more information about the dispute, please go to https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss. If you are a student, please visit the NUS petition here: https://email-nus.org.uk/p/5BGA-9DB/strike-letter

Informing the University about your strike action

Members are under no obligation to inform HR, or indeed any other member of staff, about their intentions to undertake strike action if you are going to be on strike in the next two weeks. If a manager asks, you can politely decline to answer that question in advance of taking part in any forthcoming action.
Members also do not need to notify the Director of HR, or anyone else, immediately after every day of strike action. Our days of strike action are 14 to 18 February and again on 21 & 22 February. After that period of strike action, if full time , your next day of work would be 23 February. That’s the day to confirm that you have taken part in action, once you have been asked to notify. If you work part-time, then it would be the next day that you are scheduled to work after strike action. See the relevant UCU Strike FAQ here: https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs

Action Short of A Strike

Please see the ASOS FAQ and relevant Reclaim our time: ASOS campaign pages on the national UCU website here:
https://ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs#Taking-action-short-of-a-strike

Members should note that UCU has provided notice to University of Reading, that expands the scope of the ASOS that we are asking members to participate in at University of Reading. We ask members to note that the ASOS now includes:

• removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action

• not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action

In terms of ​rescheduling, the national UCU FAQs linked above state that by ‘lectures or classes’ we mean any activity between any UCU member and a student or group of students which involves any instruction, tuition, communicating or sharing of knowledge or guidance.

This includes teaching which would have taken place on one of UCU’s strike days and covers instructional activities undertaken by UCU members who are professional services staff, as well as academic staff. You should, if asked, refuse to reschedule such sessions, stating that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.

If someone else such as a line manager or head of department has already scheduled your classes, the FAQ state that once the action has started you should not teach rescheduled classes whoever has rescheduled them.

The national UCU FAQS also outline that the reasonability of any request will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If in doubt, or if your actions are challenged by someone senior to you, you should temporarily suspend your action and contact your branch who will seek further advice.

As a result, please do not hesitate to get in touch for support if you need to, for example by contacting the Branch Administrator in the first instance. We can ask for additional guidance from our regional office on your behalf.


UCU Picketing guidance

What is the law on picketing? UCU – HE disputes FAQs

UCU Covid advice for picketers

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11817/HE-disputes-FAQs#Covid19-health-andsafety-picketing-advice