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Action to defend FLC jobs and courses – have your say here

At a well attended branch meeting on July 6, there was clear concern expressed over both the threat to dismiss 18 staff in the Foreign Languages Centre. The dismissals arise from a proposal to cut 20% of FLC provision, including 3 languages and all the higher level courses more information

At the branch meeting members expressed their overwhelming opposition to the dismissals and to the proposed cuts to the FLC.

UCU submitted a response to the University managers opposing the dismissals and calling for the proposed changes to the FLC to be postponed for 12 months to allow for wider consultation with students, staff and the public about the future of the FLC. We presented a petition to University Council signed by 2600 people calling on the University to expand rather than cut its foreign languages teaching.

Your UCU negotiators have been successful in achieving an extension to the consultation process and in pressing the University to disclose that it will save about £60,000 through these changes.

However, despite our efforts, the University managers have confirmed that they are going ahead with the plan to issue dismissal notices the 18 staff on 8th August. We have written to the Vice Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell requesting a meeting, but have been told that the consultation is now closed. We have now registered a formal notice of ‘failure to agree’ with the University and are using an agreed procedure to try to resolve the matter.

We need your support in this. We will continue to seek to resolve this matter through negotiation but we are entering those negotiations with the threat of compulsory redundancies still hanging over our members.

Your branch committee strongly recommends that you take part in this indicative ballot and votes YES to all three questions.

Please note that this indicative ballot is NOT a formal ballot for industrial action – it is intended to give your UCU negotiators a clear picture of the strength of feeling across the membership prior to any approval from the UCU National Executive Committee being sought for a formal ballot for industrial action.

It is important to be clear that the redundancies faced by staff in the FLC are a result of choices that University management have themselves made. Money has been spent on massive building projects, and on consultants. The University made a surplus of £17 million last year. And there’s no reason to think that there won’t be more redundancies next year.

If compulsory redundancy notices are issued to FLC staff, branch officers should make preparations for a ballot of all members for industrial action. NB Please do not vote ‘YES’ for this unless you are prepared to vote ‘YES’ for 2 and 3 below. [YES / NO]
Are you prepared to take strike action in defence of your colleagues in the Foreign Languages Centre? [YES / NO]
Are you prepared to take action short of a strike in defence of your colleagues in the Foreign Languages Centre? [YES / NO]

To vote, go to https://www.bath.ac.uk/ucu/ballot/ where you will need to authenticate with the normal University Single Sign-On service. The time you vote is recorded, but the vote is anonymous – only a tally of the total votes is kept. If you have any difficulty with the on-line voting system please contact Tim Barrett.

Non-UK EU citizens left in limbo after referendum vote

15% of the University staff are non-UK EU citizens, and the University has a target of increasing that proportion as part of its international strategy. Yet many were left feeling confused and let down by the University’s attitude of leaving their future in the hands of the Government and national bodies such as UUK. We think the University’s senior managers should be more openly proactive in defending the right of the 3 million non-UK EU citizens to indefinitely stay in the UK.

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt warns in this week’s THE  that if people from the EU no longer feel welcome in UK universities, the damage to our international academic reputation will be near fatal.

Here in Bath UCU and Unite have invited the Vice Chancellor to make a joint call on the Government to grant Indefinite Leave to Remain to all non-UK EU citizens, removing uncertainty and insecurity over this from all our minds.  We will update this post with any reply we receive.

Higher Education and Research Bill – contact your MP before 19 July

The Government is rushing the HE Bill through to its Second Reading in the House of Commons.

The Second Reading has been called, at very short notice, for Tuesday 19 July.

The decision to rush this Bill through its Parliamentary stages is despite the current political turmoil created by Brexit, and the economic uncertainty facing the HE sector as a whole. Our analysis is that the HE Bill will compound, rather than solve the Brexit problems facing universities.

Urgent action: Write to your MP

Notes for lobbying your MP

Political risks of the Higher Education and Research Bill

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Underpaid, (semi) casualised, mainly women and now the SACK ! Foreign Languages Centre staff need your support NOW !

Γειά σου ! Cześć ! Здравствуйте !

Last week we submitted our response on behalf of 18 members of staff in the Foreign Languages Centre who face being made redundant in August. The redundancies would be part of a 20% cut in FLC provision. We called for a 12-month freeze on the proposals to allow wider consultation with students, staff and members of the local community about the future of the FLC. On Thursday we presented a 2600 name petition to the Chair of University Council calling on the University to mark its 50th anniversary by expanding its foreign language teaching, not cutting it. The petition has support from a wide range of staff, students and local people who have taken the community language courses. It is the largest petition ever presented to the University.

There has been no response to the petition, but on Friday University managers rejected our call for a 12-month freeze and started to implement the proposals on Monday. The 18 members of staff in the Foreign Languages Centre who face being made redundant in August represent all the issues at the heart of our current national dispute over unfair pay, casualization and the gender pay gap.

Unfair pay

In addition to the 14% cut in the value of pay that all of us have faced since 2009, these staff are paid at Grade 6 for professional teaching work. This is less than the rate for the job at most other universities. They were promised that they could expect to progress to Grade 7, but this has not happened as the University has failed to honour its agreement with UCU about that. There are hundreds of people working here, mainly GTAs, who are in the same position. They are not alone. Staff in professional and technical grades are frequently paid less by Bath than other universities, and many are given responsibilities above their paygrade.

Casualisation

For years the FLC staff have been strung along on zero hours contracts. UCU did secure a marginal improvement in their position in 2009, but 20% of the work is still done on zero hours contracts, some by staff who have worked here for many years. In 2013, Bath came out on top in a survey of the use of zero-hours contracts for teaching and research.

Gender pay gap

Most of the FLC staff facing the sack are women. As well as having a greater of chance of being on the receiving end of unfair pay and casualization, women are more likely to lose their income altogether. We already know this is the case because the regular notices we receive from HR about the termination of fixed term contracts always contain more women than men. And when people are made redundant from the University of Bath they learn that the University has the meanest redundancy payments in the whole country.

Consultative ballot for action in support of FLC staff facing redundancy

UCU has formally registered a ‘failure to agree’ with the University, and this will now be dealt with under a procedure agreed between UCU and the University in 2011. We are calling on all members to support our colleagues in the Foreign Languages Centre. We will be consulting you about this with an electronic ballot for action in the next ten days. If you are taking holiday in this period and want to be kept informed of the ballot without opening your University email (we are, after all, still working to contract) please contact ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk

 

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TODAY: Bath Rally in Solidarity with Migrants & Refugees

Reports of racist and xenophobic attacks in the UK have increased in the wake of the EU referendum result. Regardless of whether a Remain or a Leave vote was the best decision for the country, we must not allow the outcome to be used to fuel racism against migrants, refugees and black and minority ethnic members of our communities.

Today, Bath Welcomes Refugees and Bath Amnesty are holding a solidarity rally from 5:30 pm (until a little after 6 pm) outside Bath Abbey. The speakers will include refugees and EU citizens living in Bath, who will be talking about their experiences and their fears, and hopes, for the future. At a time of deep division, it is vital that we come together to say clearly and categorically that we will not accept a nationalist, nativist, xenophobic narrative that blames migrants and refugees for the economic problems we face.

Please do come down to Bath Abbey at 5:30 pm today, and invite as many of your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues as possible. The more of us there, the stronger the message of support and solidarity we can send to migrants and refugees in Bath and beyond.

This is an opportunity for all of us who live and work in Bath to publicly reject the bigotry of fascist organisations and the rhetoric of those who enable them. Please join us.

Refugees Welcome Here

From the event organisers:

Some groups and political leaders used the EU referendum debate to make immigration and nationalism the central issue.

In the wake of a Leave vote, it is more important now than ever before to show all members of our community that we welcome individuals from any country and any continent, whether migrant or refugee.

Come and join us outside the Abbey on Tuesday to show our city that we stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and will not condone or accept a rhetoric that scapegoats them and blames them for the economic problems of our country.

Please invite your friends and bring along flags, placards and banners.

More: https://www.facebook.com/events/261275074264022/

Open Day strikes bite at Bath and other universities

Our strike action on the University open day was very effective. We spoke to thousands of prospective students and parents about the worsening inequality and job insecurity in Higher Education, and of how this affects staff University of Bath. Most expressed shock at recent changes to staff pay and conditions, and a number of parents refused to cross our picket lines, one very publicly on Twitter.

SUPPORT GROWS FOR OUR CAMPAIGN

The strike was also another opportunity to discuss the dispute with colleagues – to great effect. Not only did our members support the action in greater numbers than they did the two day action in May, but we have had another surge in membership applications, leaving the branch larger than ever.

We also had good support from the local community. We know that many members of other campus unions refused to take on work that was intended to plug the gaps left by people walking out in support of our action and we received delegations to our pickets, and offers of donations to our hardship fund, from other trade unions, including FBU, CWU, Unite, NUT, TSSA, Unite Community and the BMA, as well as the Students’ Union, Bath Trade Union Council, Bath Labour Party and Bath Green Party. A number of our alumni also came back to Bath on Friday to show their support.

MORE ACTION THIS WEEK

The action is being repeated this week in 24 universities across the country.

WORKING TO CONTRACT

We urge all members to continue to work to contract. For details of working to contract see the FAQs at http://bath.web.ucu.org.uk/2016/06/12/industrial-action-2016-faqs/

Your branch committee will be looking closely at the latest workload survey from UCU and will circulate further advice on that.

HARDSHIP FUND

Members who joined the action in May will notice pay deductions in their June pay advice. If you have any questions about these please contact us for advice. You can also get support from the hardship fund operated by the branch. Please reply to this message for details of that.

You can make a donation to the hardship fund to support your colleagues who lost pay because they walked out. You can do so by BACS transfer to

Account No: 20057787
Sort Code: 60-83-01

or a cheque to UCU Bath.

Strike action Friday 17th June

close the gap 2UCU members are called on to support further strike action on Friday 17th June in support of our claim for fair pay, and an end to the gender pay gap and rampant casualization of the HE sector.

17th June is a University open day, so we will have a chance to talk with members of the public about what is happening inside universities.

Pickets will operate at all three entrances to the University from 0730, and all members are invited to join colleagues there.

Industrial Action at University of Bath in June 2016: FAQs (Updated)

What Is Happening?
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University of Bath should celebrate its 50th with MORE language teaching, not less.

The University of Bath is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Since it was founded in 1966 it has had a commitment to teaching a wide range of foreign languages at every level from beginner to near native speaker. Language courses have been provided by the University’s Foreign Language Centre (FLC) for students and staff at the University, and for the wider public.

The University is now proposing to make cuts of up to 20% in  its FLC language learning, despite more than doubling in size and posting a surplus of over £16 million in its most recent accounts.

If you think this is no way to mark the University’s 50th anniversary, and that the University should be maintaining or expanding, not cutting its language teaching, please sign this petition which will be presented to Vice Chancellor Professor Glynis Breakwell at the end of June.

To the University of Bath: we want MORE foreign language teaching not less

"We - students, staff and members of the public living in the Bath area - condemn the proposals to reduce language courses at the Foreign Language Centre for students, staff and the local community by 20%. The cuts will mean that three of the 11 languages now taught will be withdrawn, along with 2 of the 6 levels of learning in all languages. This is likely to lead to redundancies.

"The University of Bath should not be marking its 50th birthday by abandoning its longstanding commitment to providing a full range of language teaching to its staff, students and the wider public. It has the resources to continue and expand its provision, and should use the occasion of its 50th birthday to renew its commitment to language learning."

[signature]

2,613 signatures

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Great support from local members for strike action. Now we work to contract.

Hundreds of our members joined thousands nationally in two days of strike action against unfair pay, gender inequality and casualization. See pictures

WORKING TO CONTRACT

Our action continues with working to contract. If you cannot complete all your work in the time available, ask your manager to prioritise your work for you. If you come under pressure to work beyond the limits of your contract, seek advice from your local branch rep. We will run regular advice surgeries staring on WEDNESDAY 1st JUNE 12-1.30 pm in 1E2.1.

For more information on working to contract see 21-30 of these FAQs

NEXT BRANCH MEETING

Tuesday 14th June 1.15 pm 1E2.4 where we will hear from our national negotiators and delegates to UCU Congress (taking place this week in Liverpool).

Support from Students & Doctors!!

Ahead of strike action on Wednesday and Thursday this week, we are very grateful for the message of solidarity and support we have been receiving from students and workers in Bath and the South West. A couple: (more…)