University of Bath UCU Rotating Header Image

News

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…)

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

Image may contain: text

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…)

“A Source of Embarrassment” – Pay Inequality at Bath

In October, the University received national press attention during the week of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, but for all the wrong reasons, as half a dozen newspapers ran stories focused entirely on the pay and expenses of the Vice Chancellor. (more…)

Bath UCU AGM 2016 Policy Motions

Members voted on four policy motions at our quorate AGM on Wednesday 14th December. The motions, detailed below, covered a range of topics: Welcoming Refugees to Bath, boycotts of the NSS and TEF, the loss of confidence in the Remuneration Committee over VC Pay, and affiliation to ‘Bath for Europe’. All motions were discussed and passed.

Motion 1: International students & Refugee Scholarships [Passed]

Bath SU has recently adopted a policy of support for international students in the form of scholarships for refugees who wish to study at Bath. Bath UCU expresses its full support for the SU policy. The policy includes an action for “SU Officers on University Senate submit a proposal and request a vote that ‘refugees are welcomed to the university through provision of scholarships'”. The branch will encourage members of UCU sitting on Senate to support this motion. The policy also references plans by students and staff to launch a crowdfund with the aim of opening up access to Higher Education for refugees. The branch encourages all members to contribute to the fund and will match the first £500 of contributions from members.

Motion 2: Boycott of the TEF and NSS [Passed]

In agreement with national UCU policy on supporting NUS opposition to the TEF and NSS, the local association offers its full support to Bath SU in its policy of joining twenty other students’ unions in supporting a boycott of NSS and the TEF. These measures are detrimental to higher education and staff and students are united in opposition to them. We encourage UCU members to support Bath SU in practical measures to end TEF and NSS and to take part in national action in support of these aims.

Motion 3: Fair Pay & University Remuneration Committee [Passed]

The local association notes the policy position taken by the University of Bath SU on transparency and fairness in staff and senior management pay, in particular the policy of rejecting use of Zero Hours Contracts, limiting executive pay to five times that of the lowest paid member of staff and the expression of no confidence in the remuneration committee. Staff have also lost confidence in the committee. We offer our full support to the SU in working towards the objective of transparent and fair pay for university staff and senior managers. In order to restore confidence, the remuneration committee must include democratically elected staff and student representatives and should be required to publish proper minutes and a list of Key Performance Indicators used to justify executive salaries.

Motion 4: Bath for Europe [Passed]

Bath UCU still believes that some form of membership of EU institutions is crucial for higher education and the success of Universities such as Bath. It therefore agrees to become an associate member of Bath for Europe (BfE) which is affiliated to Britain for Europe: a federation of local groups campaigning for the UK to remain in, or close to EU membership. The link with BfE will entitle UCU representatives to attend BfE events and propose its specific concerns for inclusion in BfE campaigns. In return, Bath UCU will keep its members informed of news, developments and events led by BfE. https://bathforeurope.com

USS pensions: more cuts coming ?

The USS pension scheme is the main scheme for academic and academic related staff in pre-1992 universities.  Three of its 10 directors are appointed by UCU.   UCU opposed the closure of the final salary scheme earlier this year.   We did secure some important changes to the scheme to protect members from the worst effects of the closure of the final salary scheme, but it has now ended.

The closure of the final salary scheme was the result of warnings to the USS Board that the scheme faced a huge deficit.   UCU challenged the way the scheme’s assets were valued and members supported strike action to defend the benefits that would be cut for future scheme members.  University of Sheffield UCU have produced a useful account of the events that led up to the end of the final salary scheme.

Now the scheme’s assets are set to be valued again, (for one of the more accessible descriptions of the issues at stake in the valuation process see this post from Mike Otsuka of LSE UCU)  and it is possible – perhaps even likely – that another huge deficit will be discovered and members will have to take further cuts to their benefits and/or increases to contributions.

University of Bath VC Glynis Breakwell has ruled herself out of any discussions with the local branch about USS because she is a paid member of the USS Board.  We have therefore set out to the University’s Director of HR the points we want the University to consider in any representations it makes on the future of the scheme.

For those with the appetite, USS have released a video stream of the meeting of institutions, including Bath University, held on December 1st.

We will keep you informed of any proposals that come forward.

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…)

Industrial Action over Pay, Inequality & Casualisation

FAQs for Workers at University of Bath

  • What Is Happening?
  • Why Is This Happening?
  • Who Should Take Part in the Action?
  • Should Postgraduates Take Part?
  • What About the Effect on Taught Students?
  • I’ve been asked to do something to break the action. What should/can I do?
  • I’ve been asked whether I’m going to take part. What should I say?
  • I Want to Support the Action for Fair Pay, Gender Equality and Job Security – What Now?
  • Where are the Picket Lines?
  • More Questions…
  • What Is Happening?

    Members of UCU are taking industrial action due to a dispute with our employer over declining pay, worsening inequality and increasing casualization. The action will begin with a two day strike on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May and will be followed by indefinite ‘action short of a strike’ in the form of a ‘work to contract’.

    On strike days, all UCU members should observe a full withdrawal of labour. This labour includes sending work emails, working from home, presenting at external conferences, doing research and preparing teaching.

    When working to contract, all UCU members should not work beyond their contracted hours (or a maximum of 37 hours if they do not have contracted hours) and should not perform any additional voluntary duties that they are not contracted for.

    UCU members who are External Examiners are also asked to resign from their positions.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    Why Is This Happening?

    Inequality in UK higher education is shameful with a gender pay gap of 12.6% (a difference of £6,103 per year) amongst academic staff in 2013/14.

    Pay in higher education has fallen in value against inflation by 14.5% since 2009. At the same time there remains a substantial gender pay gap in many institutions and the growth in casual contracts undermines the job security of all staff. In response to these issues, the employers have made an offer to increase salaries for 2016/17 by just 1.1%, and refused to commit to any meaningful action to address gender inequality or casualization.

    For most staff in Higher Education, the current offer would mean yet another real-terms pay cut because of increases to our pension and national insurance contributions this year, as well as the eroding impact of inflation. This is in a sector that is currently turning a £1.8 billion surplus and in which senior management pay continues to sky rocket – the University of Bath Vice Chancellor is reported to have received a 10% pay rise this year alone.

    hepaydeflationAs a result, UCU have declared a dispute with our employers and members then voted overwhelmingly in support of both strike action and ‘action short of a strike’. UNISON and Unite are currently consulting with their members on whether to join the industrial action.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    Who Should Take Part in the Action?

    All UCU members employed by institutions involved in the dispute are expected to participate in the industrial action. This includes all UCU members at the University of Bath.

    Colleagues who are not currently UCU members are invited to support the campaign for fair pay and action on inequality and casualization by joining the strike and subsequent ‘work to contract’. You can do this in two ways:

    1. Join UCU. You can join now, on the picket line or at any time after the action has begun. You can join here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join.
    2. If you cannot join UCU, but do want to support your colleagues, the guidance from the UK government is that “If non-union members go on strike, they are protected from dismissal and have the same rights as union members, as long as the industrial action is lawful.” This industrial action is lawful.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    What About Postgraduates?

    Postgraduate students can join UCU and postgraduate members of UCU are expected to take part in the action. Many of our members at the University of Bath are postgraduate students and they are represented on Bath UCU Committee by an elected Postgraduate Rep. Postgraduates who work at the University have a legal right to both join a trade union and to take part in industrial action.

    If you are a postgraduate, this dispute is about both your current pay and conditions (including the refusal of the University of Bath to afford you sick pay, maternity/paternity/adoption leave and protections against unfair dismissal) and also your future pay and conditions as a Post-Doctoral Researcher, Lecturer, Teaching Fellow, etc.

    The union branch understands that postgraduate students and other hourly-paid workers can come under particular pressure during periods of industrial action due in part to the insecurity of their employment contracts. If you are a postgraduate student, or indeed any other member of staff, experiencing pressure to break this industrial action, please email ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk and the branch will offer its full support.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    What About the Effect on Taught Students?

    The National Union of Students and local Students' Union have announced full support for our action

    The National Union of Students and local Students’ Union have announced full support for our action

    This action will affect students, but it is important to consider the context, as many of our students have. Both the NUS and University of Bath Students’ Union support this action. The Students’ Union have contacted all of the trade unions to express their support and have released this statement. The NUS have released this statement. An extract:

    We believe the most important assets to a university are the people who work and study there. In order to continue to deliver high quality education, the sector must invest in staff and address the inequality and insecurity that blights our universities. This is especially important in the context of the incoming HE Bill and the further marketization of the HE sector. Solidarity between educators and students is particularly important in combatting threats to the sector, thus we should oppose attempts to undermine educators, or divide students from educators. No education worker wants to strike but both ourselves and UCU cannot sit back and watch university staff pay continue to be eroded, inequality grow unchallenged and employment become more and more insecure every year.

    Students have also contacted the branch independently to express their support, and have even put up supportive banners and posters around campus.

    It is clear that students understand the principle that “the conditions staff work under are the conditions that students learn under”.

    It is not in the interest of students for this dispute to end with a further erosion of wages, perpetuation of inequality and decrease in job security for staff. Fair pay, security and an end to discrimination are in the interests of all students and staff. That is what this action is seeking to achieve – a return to meaningful negotiations and a fair settlement for everyone.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    I’ve been asked to do something to break the action. What should/can I do?

    We would ask that all staff including postgraduate workers make every effort to refrain from undermining the action of colleagues who are doing so to defend pay and conditions for all of us. As part of the ‘work to contract’, UCU members in particular should not take on any work outside of their contract to cover for colleagues from 25th May.

    There are some concerning reports of attempts to recruit postgraduate students to undermine the action of other staff. Not only is this divisive, but can also be in violation of University Rules and Regulations. In addition, it is a violation of the JobLink Terms and Conditions to help recruit students to replace employees with whom the University is in industrial dispute.

    If you have been asked to do something to break the action, such as taking on the work of a colleague or organising replacement workers, please let the Bath UCU Secretary know so that we can ensure that this is lawful and within University Rules and Regulations.

    Colleagues who are not currently UCU members are invited to support the campaign for fair pay and action on inequality and casualization by joining the strike and subsequent ‘work to contract’. You can do this in two ways:

    1. Join UCU. You can join now, on the picket line or at any time after the action has begun. You can join here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join.
    2. If you cannot join UCU, but do want to support your colleagues, the guidance from the UK government is that “If non-union members go on strike, they are protected from dismissal and have the same rights as union members, as long as the industrial action is lawful.” This industrial action is lawful.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    I’ve been asked whether I’m going to take part. What should I say?

    You may be asked by Human Resources, your line manager or another colleague whether you intend to take part in the industrial action. You are under absolutely no obligation to respond to this or any other requests for information about your intentions to take part in industrial action. UCU is advising members to not respond to these requests. If you are asked after the strike whether you have taken action, you must respond truthfully, but only if asked.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    I Want to Support the Action for Fair Pay, Gender Equality and Job Security – What Now?

    If you are a UCU member:
    On strike days (Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May) all UCU members should join colleagues in a full withdrawal of labour. This includes sending work emails, working from home, presenting at external conferences, doing research and preparing teaching. Please join us on the picket lines in operation at every entrance to the university from 07:30-12:00 on both strike days.

    Join us on Tuesday 24th May at 16:30 in 1E2.1 for a pre-strike briefing and placard making session.

    When working to contract, all UCU members should not work beyond their contracted hours (or a maximum of 37 hours if they do not have contracted hours) and should not perform any additional voluntary duties that they are not contracted for.

    UCU members who are External Examiners are also asked to resign from their positions.

    If you are not a trade union member:
    Colleagues who are not currently UCU members are invited to support the action in two ways:

    1. Join UCU. You can join now, on the picket line or at any time after the action has begun. You can join here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join.
    2. If you cannot join UCU, but do want to support your colleagues, the guidance from the UK government is that “If non-union members go on strike, they are protected from dismissal and have the same rights as union members, as long as the industrial action is lawful.” This industrial action is lawful.

    If you are a member of a trade union other than UCU:
    Please contact your trade union branch to ask for advice. Some suggestions to show your support:

    1. Vote for industrial action when you are balloted by your union.
    2. Take annual leave on Wednesday and/or Thursday and take some time to visit our picket lines between 07:30 and 12:00.
    3. Change your email signature to show support, e.g. “I support my colleagues in UCU taking industrial action for fair pay, gender equality and job security”.
    4. Where possible, refuse to take on any tasks that would undermine your colleague’s action.
    5. Take some refreshments to your colleagues on the picket lines!

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    Where are the Picket Lines?

    On Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May there will be picket lines in operation at all three of the entrances to University of Bath from 07:30-12:00.

    Picket lines at University of Bath

    Picket lines at University of Bath

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>

    More Questions…

    If you have any further questions, please take a look at the UCU HE action FAQs or email the branch Secretary.

    <Go Back To The Top Of The Page>