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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.

Branch meeting for all members WEDNESDAY 5th OCTOBER 1.15 pm 1E2.4

The meeting (agenda) will hear reports on:

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UCU secures improved deal for FLC staff facing dismissal, but cuts still go ahead

University managers have implemented cuts to the Foreign Languages Centre proposed during the summer. The Centre has lost three (possibly four) languages, seven staff on fractional posts and a further ten staff on zero hours contracts. UCU called for a one year freeze on the proposals to allow wider consultation with staff, students and the local community, but this call was rejected despite a 2600 name petition to the University’s governing body, Council.

UCU secured an improved offer from the University for the seven staff on fractional contracts, together with a promise to review the University’s redundancy avoidance strategy. This offer was made after branch members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if there were any compulsory redundancies. There were no compulsory redundancies.

On the plus side the UCU branch managed to win an improved offer (redundancy payments enhanced by 50% for people accepting voluntary redundancy) for those staff on fractional contracts (including non members) who were facing dismissal. The downside is that the enhancement was only 50% and that some people lost their jobs. The other serious problem is that the ten staff on zero hours contracts who lost their jobs were offered NOTHING.

This small gain shows that UCU members have more bargaining power than we might think. Faced with the threat of local action against cuts and job losses, there was some movement from University managers.

For a full review of the dispute and the issues raised see report from UCU Branch Secretary.

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…)

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 (more…)

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?
(more…)

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]

2,617 signatures

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