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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, singling out the Vice Chancellor of Bath University for particular attention, the joint trades unions (UCU, Unite and UNISON) together with Bath University 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.

Chris Roche (UNISON) a staff representative on University Council attended the meeting of Council that took place on July 13th, immediately after a private meeting of the Remuneration Committee to decide on senior management pay awards for next year. Their decisions were not communicated to Council. However, Chris did raise the issue in Council, and said the following: (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…)

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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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

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    More Questions…

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

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University of Bath advertizes for strikebreakers

The University of Bath wants to break a strike and is happy to break its own rules to do it.

An email sent to postgraduate students in one department reads:

(more…)

Big vote for action on pay, casualization and gender pay inequality

Members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of action to support our joint union claim, following a miserable 1.1% offer from employers and no promises of action on casualization and the gender pay gap.

A 2-day strike is planned for Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May, unless employers improve their offer.   All members are asked to support this action. (more…)

Act now on pay

ballot reminder2

Branch meeting Thursday 14th April 1.15 pm 1E.4

newsletter.april 16The main item for this meeting will be the ballot (opens 14 April) on action in support of the national pay claim.   Full details of the meeting are in the agenda papers.

See also the local newsletter for updates on pay, grading casualization and the VC’s latest part-time post.