University of Bath UCU Rotating Header Image

Branch Update: Fri 20th Jan 2017

  1. Save Bath Community Academy (Sat 21st Jan, 12:00)
  2. #HE4Refugees
  3. Orgreave Truth & Justice (Wed 25th Jan, 19:30)
  4. Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb, 13:15)
  5. Mental Health – Time to Talk (Thurs 2nd Feb, 10:15)
  6. Save Bath Library – Petition
  7. (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

National Student Survey – UCU supports NUS boycott

At our AGM this week, members of Bath UCU gave unanimous support to Bath Students’ Union which has joined the growing move to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS). The background is laid out below in the branch motion and a message from our General Secretary. Branch Officers will now invite Officers of the SU to discuss how members of Bath UCU can best support the student boycott.

UCU has prepared resources, including posters and an FAQ for members. These are available from the national union website.

(more…)

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.

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.


 

United for Education Demo #Nov19

No to Fees, No to Cuts, No to Debt

The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) 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.

University of Bath Students’ Union are running coaches for students, staff and supporters. Bath UCU are proud to be providing financial support.

Join the Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/708038252677972/

Reserve your coach ticket today (£5 return):

Events before the demonstration:

  • Demo Information Session – Thursday 10th November, 18:15 in 8 West 2.5.
    Hosted by University of Bath Students’ Union.
  • Education in Crisis Tour – Thursday 17th November, 18:15 in TBC.
    Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/579719922236019/
    Open to all students & staff.
    ‘The agenda of this government is clear – they want an education system where our institutions operate in the interests of profit and business. But there are thousands of students, staff and education activists up and down the country who reject this vision. We want a system which is free, democratic and accessible to all, which values education as a social good. Come along to what will be a truly informative event, discuss the state of Further & Higher Education, and plan for the future. With speakers from Bath UCU, Bath Students’ Union and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.’

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.