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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.

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Events in November & December


Talk: “Yarl’s Wood: Detentions and Deportations”
Tue, 8th Nov, 18:15, CB1.12

Bath UCU and University of Bath Amnesty Society are co-hosting speakers from Movement for Justice, a migrant rights group, to talk about their experience of and campaign against detention centres, mass deportations and racism in the UK. Coach tickets from Bath for the “Shut Down Yard’s Wood” demonstration will be on sale, or can be purchased online. Students and staff from Bath are also joining the ‘Stand Up to Racism’ bloc at the ‘United for Education’ demo – tickets available at this talk and online.


Event: Special Branch Meeting – “Restructures, Redundancies & Resistance – A Warning from London”
Wed, 9th Nov, 13:15, CB3.9

London Met University, one in the country for widening participation, is under threat of privatisation and severe cuts to provision. Staff are engaged in a major fight against 395 redundancies, and their senior UCU branch officer have been sacked. The extraordinary events at ‘London Met’ could set the tone for universities across the country, particularly in the context of the Higher Education Bill. We are pleased to welcome Mark Campbell, lecturer and former London Met UCU Branch Secretary, to speak about his experiences, and what they could mean at universities across the country. All University of Bath staff and students welcome to attend. More information: What’s On.


Demo: Stop Virgin taking over Bath’s Health Services
Thurs, 10th Nov, 17:00, The Guildhall

A large demonstration in Bath on 29th October heard from Ken Loach and other speakers about the imminent privatisation of Bath’s primary NHS services.

The decision is due to be taken at a meeting in Bath Guildhall and there will be a further demonstration from 5pm, calling for the contract not to be awarded to Virgin Care.

http://bathchronicle.co.uk/virgin-care-protest/story-29851322-detail/story.html.


Social Event: Bath Welcomes Refugees Fundraiser – “F**k Racism”
Mon, 14th Nov, 20:00-02:00, The Nest

This expletively titled event, billed as “a night for love and compassion!” will feature live music, talks, games and more, with all proceeds going to Bath Welcomes Refugees. More information: Facebook event.


Talk: “What is Feminism?”
Tue, 15th Nov, 18:30, CB4.16

Hosted by University of Bath Students’ Union Gender Equality Group and Amnesty International Society. More information: Facebook event.


Discussion: Education in Crisis
Thurs, 17th Nov, 18:15, CB3.11

Bath UCU and the Students’ Union have been invited to join a panel discussion on “the government’s plans to radically change Further and Higher Education, how this will affect staff and students and what we can do in response.” The event will be followed by a placard and banner making session for all those who will be attending the National Demo on November 19th. More details: Facebook event.


Demo: United for Education
Sat, 19th Nov, Leaving Bath at 08:30

UCU and the NUS are holding a mass demonstration in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education and to demand an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges. Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London on Saturday 19th November, in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy on post-school education. Bath UCU will be subsidising travel and all members are encouraged to attend. Tickets can be purchased online or at the next branch meeting. More information: Bath UCU Blog.


Day of Action against Casual Contracts in HE
Thurs, 24th Nov.

Our employer the University of Bath continues to stall on the promise it made to reduce the use of casual contracts for teaching and research.   Watch out for details of our next action on this. Contact ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk for details.


Demo: “Shut Down Yarl’s Wood”
Sat, 3rd Dec, Leaving Bath at 09:00

Students, staff and local residents have organised a coach to this, the tenth, demonstration outside the notorious Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Bath UCU will be subsidising travel and tickets can be purchased online or from Christopher Roche at the next branch meeting. More information: Facebook event.


Gender Equality Film: Made in Dagenham
Mon, 5th December, 18:15, CB1.10

We are joining up with the Students’ Union Gender Equality group to screen “Made in Dagenham”, an inspirational feel-good film about a group of women factory workers who launched an incredible fight against sexism in the work place, and ended up making history. All staff and students welcome. Free entry. No ticket required.

Bath UCU AGM

Wed, 14th Dec, 13:15, 8W2.30.

Nominations for branch officer and committee posts will be circulated next week. If you want to get more involved in the work of your union, contact me for further information at ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk.


 

Report: Event on Syria, Calais & Refugee Solidarity

Last Tuesday, Bath UCU co-hosted a film screening of “The White Helmets” (Trailer) with the Bath SU Amnesty International Society.

Alaa opens the session

Alaa opens the session

The session was opened by Alaa Al Khourdajie, a Postgraduate UCU member and UCU Contact in the Department of Economics, who spoke about some of the actions we can take in response to the ‘refugee crisis’ and introduced two speakers:

  • Bernie Howley, Founder and Chair of Bath Welcomes Refugees, outlined the work that the group are doing to help settle and support refugees in Bath;
  • Christopher Roche, Bath UCU Vice President, spoke about a recent trip to deliver donations to and work in the refugee camp in Calais, the urgent need to allow refugees into the UK ahead of the impending razing of the camp by the French government and asked for people to support the “Phone Credit for Refugees Project“.
Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Alaa introduced the film, which tells the story of “The White Helmets“, volunteer rescue workers in Syria, responding to military attacks in civilian areas. The film is available now to watch online through Netflix.

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the 'refugee crisis'

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the ‘refugee crisis’

The sessions was very well attended, and the staff and students present donated over £200 in cash, plus more online and by phone, to three organisations:

If you were unable to attend the event, please take a look at the links above and consider making a donation.

The Bath UCU branch will continue to campaign for the rights of refugees, and all migrants in the UK. We continue to support calls for the creation of university scholarships for refugees and are making plans for future deliveries of donations and volunteer to workers to Calais and elsewhere. If you would like to become more involved in these initiatives, please email ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk.

 

Announcements on ‘Foreign Workers’, Support & Action

The follow has been sent to all members of University of Bath UCU:

Dear Bath UCU colleague,

We were disturbed by recent announcements about workers from countries other than the UK, and concerned about the effect of those announcements on the climate of racism, xenophobia and bigotry that has worsened since the European referendum. A summary of the support available to our international members can be found below, along with actions that all members are encouraged to take.

Recent Developments

Last Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that UK firms would be required to state the proportion of ‘foreign’ staff that they employ in order to encourage the employment of ‘domestic’ ones. Widespread condemnation and growing pressure appear to have resulted in a partial scaling back of the proposals, such that employers will be required to provide but not openly publish the information.

Nevertheless, the logic of the proposal is to imply blame for the unemployment of ‘British’ workers on the employment of ‘foreign’ ones. This can only legitimate a xenophobic and racist discourse directed against workers from other countries, and the companies and sectors of the economy that employ them, including in Higher Education.

The Conservative Party conference also heard plans to reduce the number of international students in the UK through further restrictions to study and work visas. UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, has publicly condemned the proposals.

On Friday, reports emerged that ‘foreign’ academics had been barred from government advisory roles. The implication of the decision is that non-UK nationals are not to be trusted on matters of national policy, and has the further implication that UK nationals are to be expected to act in the interests of the state at all times. This is a dangerous precedent for all academic staff.

UCU Branch Activity & Support Available

It is now particularly important that our colleagues and students who have moved to the UK from other countries know that they are appreciated and welcome. We all have a part to play in ensuring that this message is heard.

Bath UCU branch committee has co-opted two new ‘International Members Reps’. Palash Kamruzzaman and Alex Masardo will be working with your existing committee and department contacts to ensure that the branch is as proactive and responsive as possible to the needs of our international members.

Branch Officers have had discussions with managers about the University’s response to the national political situation, and will continue to push for greater support for international staff. It was agreed at our last branch meeting that our negotiators on the JACNC would again ask that the University pay the cost of Permanent Residence Cards for staff. Information on support currently available from the University has been published online by Human Resources.

In addition to support from the Bath UCU branch, members can also seek counselling and support through the UCU-backed Education Support Partnership and there are also plans to extend the legal scheme available to UCU members to include immigration issues.

Take Action

Your branch committee is encouraging colleagues to use and circulate this online tool to demand that our Members of Parliament stand up for EU staff and students.

We also ask members to read and promote the booklet, jointly produced by UCU and Class, “Why immigration is good for all of us” and the South West TUC guide to population and migration. The branch has ordered hundreds of hardcopies of both publications to help members challenge the common toxic myths and divisive rhetoric around migration to the UK. If you would like copies for your department, or for distribution to students or colleagues, these can be reserved and collected from the Trade Union Office (1 East 2.1) on Wednesdays, 10:00-16:00.

If you have further suggestions for how the branch can best support our international colleagues, any general or specific concerns about the treatment of international staff members or an initiative that you would like the branch to support, please let us know.

Bath UCU Branch Committee

P.S. Bath UCU continues to support calls for the creation of university scholarships for refugees and is currently working with Bath Welcomes Refugees to provide donations and volunteer workers to the refugee camp in Calais. Two of our members will be talking more about this on Tuesday 18th October at 18:15, before a film screening of The White Helmets in 5 West 2.3.

Donations for Convoy to Calais: Drop off times

Bath Welcomes Refugees are running a convoy for its members to help in Calais “Jungle” refugee camp and some of our Bath UCU members are going to volunteer with Help Refugees. (more…)

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.

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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Gestures

Following lobbying from members of the University of Bath asking that the university provide funded studentships for refugees from Syria, the senior management team has laid out a response under the title `Partnership, not gesture: Jordan commitment‘. The substance of the management plan is outlined below, with a response.

Following our discussions in Amman two weeks ago we now undertake to make a range of brand new commitments in Jordan to build that resilience:

1. Working with a local University in Amman with a focus on STEM we will support the training of faculty to doctoral level in areas such as engineering and mathematical innovation, essential for the development of resilient systems.

Laudable though this contribution to Jordanian Higher Education might be, it is not a proposal to offer any chance of higher education to Syrian, or other, refugees. There is an additional impediment: according to a report on the status of Syrian students who have sought refuge in Jordan, Jordanian universities require Syrian students to produce documentation on their previous studies:

students reported to us that although in some cases documentary requirements have been eased, some Jordanian universities continue to require documentation. Since many Syrian refugee students were forced to leave home without this paper work, failure to waive these requirements creates an effective bar to accessing higher education in Jordan.

For obvious reasons the Syrian embassy in Jordan is not helpful to Syrian refugees looking for copies of their educational qualifications, so in practice Syrian refugees find it almost impossible to enter a Jordanian university.

2. We will commit to partner with the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan to conduct research in areas of national priority.

Again, this is a laudable proposal, although it does require some detail. For example, is this to be funded by the University of Bath, or does it depend on external funding? If the latter, it is simply a strategic internationalization decision, and not an act of generosity or solidarity by the university. In neither case is it an offer of assistance to refugees fleeing war in Syria: it is cooperation on work of national importance to Jordan.

3. We have now launched a Study Centre in partnership with the Amman Baccalaureate School where we will deliver our MA in Education. We will teach the teachers to provide future leadership in education.

This is not a `brand new commitment’: the `new study centre’ was opened at the end of January by Princess Sarvath, an honorary graduate of the University of Bath.

4. We will strengthen our partnership with the British Institute in Amman to develop research which can inform how governments, NGOs and other parties might more effectively respond to the long-term impacts of the crisis.

Neither is this.

5. And we will provide scholarships on our postgraduate MA Education programme in Amman to refugees displaced by the crisis. These scholarships will complement work being undertaken by the British Council, whose EU-funded LASER (Language, Academic skills and E-learning Resources) Project is developing English language skills with refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

This is a very limited offer. The MA in Education programme is open to `qualified educators‘. This translates into a requirement that students on the programme be `qualified teachers‘. At best, this is an offer of scholarships (of what value?) to refugees who already hold a teaching qualification: it offers nothing to those who hold a qualification in any other discipline, and nothing to those who have not started or completed a qualification.

These are all new initiatives for the University. Together, they form a multi-layered commitment to Jordan in its vital stabilisation efforts in this deeply troubled region.

On a charitable reading, some of these initiatives are new `for the University’. They are not, however, a response to the humanitarian crisis of refugees fleeing Syria: they were in place long before the issue of aiding people fleeing war was even raised. Indeed, the word `Syrian’ does not appear in the proposals, and there is absolutely no proposal to offer assistance to Syrian refugees in the United Kingdom.

Our community started out with a call for support for refugees. We are going far beyond what was sought.

It is true that `our community started out with a call for support for refugees’. This plan is not a response to that call but the passing off of existing initiatives as aid for refugees. It does not go `far beyond what was sought’; it is not even movement in the same direction.

UCU shows solidarity with Greek anti-fascists Αδέρφια μετανάστες και αντιφασίστες είμαστε δίπλα σας

Bath UCU has sent a message of solidarity to the anti-fascist conference being held in Athens this weekend:

Ποτέ Ξανα φασισμός!

Fascism, Never again!

Αδέρφια μετανάστες είμαστε δίπλα σας

Our brothers and sisters migrants, we stand shoulder to shoulder
Αλληλεγγύη από το Μπαθ, Αγγλία

Solidarity from Bath, England