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Free membership for all postgrads – even if you are in paid work

Thousands of postgrads are signing up for UCU’s free membership offer. UCU negotiates your pay, your contract and your pension. The more of us there are the stronger we can be in our negotiations with the vice-chancellors and their similarly well paid representatives. To join UCU for free see here.

USS: UCU moves to a ballot for action to defend pensions

A well attended conference for delegates from UCU branches in pre-92 universities was held in Manchester on November 9th. The conference voted unanimously to move to a ballot of members for action to defend pensions. For a full report on the conference click here.

For more background to the dispute over USS see Post by Sam Marsh (Sheffield UCU) at HE Marketsation

Update: VC Pay & Governance

It has been several months since HEFCE launched an investigation into the University of Bath. The investigation is ongoing and is expected to conclude later this month.

Recent developments:

  • There have been reports of a “very significant” drop in undergraduate student applications. These match feedback from staff across the academic departments that prospective students and parents are frequently raising questions and concerns about senior management pay and governance.
  • University Council (the governing body) announced the removal of the Vice-Chancellor from the Remuneration Committee. However, the Vice-Chancellor will still attend meetings of the Remuneration Committee and UCU have described the announcement as a “worthless stunt to try and stem the tide of damaging media stories“.
  • Council have revealed some details of the long-awaited university governance review. The joint unions are concerned that staff and students will not be able to meaningfully participate in the review.
  • Staff, students and Emeritus Professors who are members of University Court have requested an urgent meeting to discuss senior management pay and governance. They have received a letter to inform them that this request has been blocked by University Council.
  • Film director and University of Bath honorary graduate  Ken Loach is the first external speaker to publicly cancel an event at the University over the scandal. He joined students to demand “the resignation of the vice-chancellor and senior governors”, introduction of a 10:1 pay ratio, cuts to student rents and governance reforms “to give students and staff more control” of the university.
  • Four Members of Parliament have now resigned from the University, citing unacceptable senior management pay and inequality. The MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, has also condemned university governors for the Vice-Chancellor’s “morally indefensible” £451K salary, which she said had “brought the university into disrepute“.
  • Freedom of Information requests have revealed that last year almost £19K was claimed in expenses for the Vice-Chancellor’s Lansdown Crescent residence (including bills, Council Tax and a housekeeper), and that the Vice-Chancellor has also received a £31K interest-free car loan from university funds.

Many of these developments have been summarised in a timeline article by the Bath Chronicle.

Union Action

The unions at the University of Bath have long fought to address staff and student grievances about failures of the governing body to tackle pay inequality and excessive senior management pay rises.

In early July, the unions sent a letter to members of University Council about these issues. Four months later, the letter remains unanswered. It is clear that despite everything that has happened, there remains powerful resistance from the very top of the university to any meaningful dialogue with staff and students about the problems of pay inequality and university governance.

Last month the unions invited national UCU Vice President Doug Chalmers to Bath to discuss the crisis of governance. He was able to provide some insights and advice from his experience with governance reforms in Scotland. The unions will now be meeting to agree a way forward in a joint campaign for a more open and democratic university that is accountable to its students, staff and the wider community.

The joint unions will continue to provide students and staff with updates and will be consulting with members about how we should proceed with the campaign. This is your university and it is important that you have a say in how it is run. If you would like to offer suggestions or take a more active role, please contact your union branch President or Chair by replying to this message.

University of Bath UCU
The SU, University of Bath
Unite, University of Bath
UNISON at the University of Bath​

HEFCE Inquiry into University of Bath governance and decisions on senior management pay

The regulator for Higher Education in England has announced that it “is making enquiries of the University of Bath…about governance practice in relation to the remuneration of senior staff.” Investigation by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) follows a formal complaint by the former Education Minister Lord Adonis who, last month, issued what has been described as “a scathing attack on [the] ‘greed’ of Bath University Vice Chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell”.

Local politicians have responded with condemnation. Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, reacted to the HEFCE complaint by saying that “the university has brought itself into disrepute” and that the Vice Chancellor’s £451K salary is “morally indefensible”. B&NES Councillor Joe Rayment blamed the “Vice-Chancellor’s outrageous pay and perks” on “governance that is rotten to the core”.

The unions at the University of Bath have long fought to address staff and student grievances about failures of the governing body to tackle pay inequality and excessive senior management pay rises.

Most recently, in early July, the unions sent a letter to members of University Council, requesting the suspension of decisions of the remuneration committee pending an immediate and thorough governance review. One month later, the letter remains unanswered.

Despite the damage they are inflicting on the reputation of the university, and on staff and student morale, there is still no evidence that senior managers or governors are willing to acknowledge the need for significant and prompt changes.

Your unions remain committed to arguing for and helping to create a university that is fair, open and democratic, and in which the collective voices of staff and students are listened to and respected. Thank you for your continued support.

University of Bath UCU
University of Bath Unite
UNISON at the University of Bath

The SU, University of Bath

If you would like to become more actively involved in your union, or to join if you have not yet done so, contact the UCU Branch Secretary.

Pay and pensions fights ahead

Over 40 members attended a branch meeting on July 20th to hear UCU National Executive Committee member Denis Nicole outline the current position on pay and pensions.

Pay

The employers have increased their offer to 1.7% but made no meaningful concessions on either the gender pay gap or casualisation. Members are now being consulted in an e-ballot on whether to accept the offer or not. The deadline for voting is July 28th. If you have not received an email containing your link to the ballot check your junk mail and if you still can’t find it contact UCU head office.

Pensions

As predicted, the employers are coming back to make further detrimental changes to the USS pension scheme. In 2014 the employers introduced a new Defined Contribution element to the scheme for earnings over £55,000. Defined Contribution schemes provide no guarantee of pension benefits. UCU managed to mitigate some of the worst elements of the employers’ proposed changes, but now they say the scheme’s assets are insufficient to meet future payments, UCU disputes the method used to value the scheme’s assets. It is likely that members will be called on to take action to defend pensions at some point during 2017-18.

House of Lords in shock at size of Bath Vice Chancellor’s pay packet

On the same day that Lord Adonis launched a scathing attack on pay inequality in UK universities and the ‘greed’ of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, the joint trades unions (UCU, Unite and UNISON) and Students’ Union wrote to all members of University Council calling on them to suspend the University Remuneration Committee pending a full and immediate review of its decisions and decision making processes. (more…)

University Senate Approves Scholarships for Refugees

Following calls from staff and students, University of Bath Senate has approved proposals to offer financial and welfare support, including scholarships, to refugees and others who have been forced to migrate to the UK.

(more…)

Bath UCU Update: Tue 7 March

1. Branch Meeting – Mon 13 March, 1.30pm
2. LGBTQ Rights: Call Me Kuchu – Tue 7 March, 6.30pm
3. International Women’s Day in Bath – Wed 8 March
4. Refugees Welcome – Over £2,000 Raised!
5. Pay Inequality – Report from University Court
6. Why are Students Boycotting the NSS?
7. Panopto: serious breaches of confidentiality
8. Go Green Week – Mon 6-Fri 10 March
9. HE Bill Defeat for Government in Lords
10. Union Democracy – Elections & Branch Committee
11. New LGBTQ Group for Staff & PGRs
12. Refugee Solidarity – Collection for Calais

(more…)

Bath UCU Update: Tue 14th Feb

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1. Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)
2. #HE4Refugees
3. Support the NSS Boycott
4. Quotes of the Week:
5. Nominations for Committee Positions
6. UCU Elections 2017
7. Survey: Take Action on Racism
8. Other Upcoming Events:
– We Love Bath – Demo Against Cuts to Libraries, Arts & Social Care – Petition & Demo (TODAY)
– NHS in Crisis – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til it’s Gone! (Thurs 16th Feb, 19:30)
– Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
– One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm) (more…)

Bath UCU Update: Thurs 9rd Feb 2017

1. Support the NSS Boycott
2. Heart Unions: The Big Workplace Meeting (Thurs 9th Feb 12:30)
3. Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)
4. #HE4Refugees
5. Urgent: Nominations for Committee Positions
6. UCU Day of Action against Workplace Racism
7. Vice President Elected to University Council
8. Minutes of Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb)
9. UCU Elections 2017
10. Mental Health – Time to Talk
11. Other Upcoming Events:
– NHS in Crisis (Thurs, 9th Feb, 19:30) (Thurs, 16th Feb, 19:30)
– Save Bath’s Libraries – Petition & Demo (Tue 14th Feb)
– Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – A Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
– One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm) (more…)