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October, 2014:

Assessment boycott set to start on November 6th


Following the record vote in favour of action to defend the USS pension scheme, UCU members will start a boycott of all assessment related work from Thursday 6th November. There will be a weekly meeting of the local USS action committee, with the first meeting on Wednesday 5th November 1.30 in 1E2.4.

UCU has produced guidance and FAQ for members, and a briefing note that you can pass on to students .   If you need help setting up a departmental meeting or with any other aspect of the assessment boycott, please contact one of the branch officers or reps.

Employers are divided on the proposals to wreck USS.  Some such as Oxford and Warwick have either expressed opposition or say they need more information.  Others such as York have taken an aggressive stance by threatening to dock 100% of pay from anyone who takes part in the assessment boycott.  You can support our York members by signing this open letter to the York VC.



Part-time hourly paid staff at University of Bath owed thousands of pounds in unpaid holiday pay

Following an inquiry by one of UCU’s postgrad members, we have learnt that the university has been paying below the statutory minimum in holiday pay. Hourly paid workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday, which the university pays in the form of a ‘rolled up’ element of pay. The minimum payable is 12.07% of the hourly rate, but until recently the university was paying 10.7%. Following representations from UCU the correct rate is being paid from 1st October 2014.  You can check the current hourly rates of pay, which were amended on 1st October to take into account the correct amount of holiday pay.

The university has not, so far, agreed to pay what it owes to hourly paid staff for underpayments for work done before October 1st. UCU and UNISON are both advising hourly paid staff to contact HR about this to claim any unpaid holiday pay. If you need help in setting out your claim please contact

For latest national news see UCU anti-casualisation blog and the new UCU anti-casualisation newsletter.

Record turnout in massive vote for action to defend pensions

UCU members will start a national assessment boycott on Thursday 6th November following a massive vote for action to defend pensions. 78% of members who voted, voted for strike action and 87% voted for action short of a strike. The turnout of 45% was the highest in a national higher education ballot since UCU was formed in 2006.

Bath UCU members will meet on THURSDAY 30th OCTOBER 1.15 pm in 3E2.4 to hear more about what we are being asked to do as part of an assessment boycott and to make sure it has maximum impact in the hope of bringing the dispute to an early conclusion. If members are in any doubt about the threat to pensions represented by the proposed changes, please note the following extract from the paper submitted by the employers to last week’s meeting of the USS Joint Negotiating Committee:

“It will be noted that in looking at their Tests, the Trustees take no account of any Defined Contribution benefits that are introduced. These pose no obligation risk on the employers – in effect, risk is borne fully by members. As such, the Trustees exhibit a marked preference for DC benefits over DB benefits.”

Keep up to date with developments at the national UCU pages

USS – biggest branch meeting for years signs up for action to defend pensions

Standing room only in Tuesday’s branch meeting as members heard the latest information we have on employers’ proposals to cut the benefits and increase the costs of the USS pension scheme.   Pensions rep James Davenport presented information on a set of slides(more…)

What has Bath said to UUK about USS ?

All pre-1992 universities have been consulted by USS and employers’ body Universities UK (UUK) about the future of the USS pension scheme. We know what Oxford has said, but what about Bath ?   As a member of the USS Board, Bath VC Glynis Breakwell is a key player on the employers’ side.   She sits on both the Investment and Remuneration Committees of the USS Board.  The recently published USS Annual Report shows a 24% (to £36,000) increase in her remuneration for this work.   Has she consulted USS members in her own university about the University’s response to the UUK/USS consultation ?

Branch meeting 7th October 1.15 pm 6E2.1

This is an important branch meeting that will give members a chance to discuss the proposed changes (cuts) to the USS pension scheme.

There are two further important items on the agenda for the meeting:

  • underpayment of holiday pay to part-time hourly paid staff
  • grading of teaching only contracts.

For full details see the meeting agenda