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Campaign update: 27 February 2015

24% adult education cuts in England | in the news | Northern Ireland dispute | Salford redundancy dispute | International Women's Day, 8 March | Claudia Jones | working for casualised staff | General election 2015 | Health educators' forum | Sexual orientation and gender identity research conference | Events, updates and publications

Dear colleague,

In this week's campaigns update:

  1. 24% adult education cuts announced for England, sign the petition to save further education (FE)
  2. In the news  
  3. Northern Ireland wide dispute
  4. University of Salford redundancy dispute
  5. International Women's Day, 8 March
  6. Celebrate the life and legacy of activist  Claudia Jones, Friday 6 March 2015
  7. UCU - working for casualised staff
  8. General election 2015: lobbying toolkit website
  9. Health educators' forum, Friday 17 April
  10. Sexual orientation and gender identity research conference
  11. Events, updates and publications

1. 24% adult education cuts announced for England, sign the petition to save further education (FE)
This week the government announced devastating cuts of up to 24% of the English adult further education budget. This will decimate further education provision across England and put thousands of FE jobs at risk. UCU has launched a major campaign to save FE. In the next few weeks we will be asking you to contact politicians to show them why these cuts are wrong.

What you can do today:
We have already launched a petition to save FE, please sign it today and then circulate to everyone you know.
Read our briefing on the cuts here and share it with colleagues.

2. In the news
The further education sector could be decimated by cuts described by UCU as a "wilful act of vandalism". Labour due to confirm a £6,000 fee plan. UCU says it should have considered more radical funding options, such as its "business education tax". It's another bad week for private colleges as one is banned from recruiting students and another is revealed to be sending bailiffs to collect grant money despite students not being at fault. The government is also dragged over the coals for its failure to protect or even check the levels of public money flowing into the sector. There are depressing stories about the amount of unpaid overtime dedicated workers are putting in and an increase in the number of zero-hours contracts. A university loans its vice-chancellor £1m to set up home closer to the office. Sally Hunt discusses postgrad study with the Guardian and outgoing UCU Scotland president, Dave Anderson, talks university governance. Read all about it here.

3. Northern Ireland wide dispute
Following the announcement of a 6.4% cut to Northern Ireland's post-school education budget, UCU has been balloting members in colleges and universities with a major 'get the vote out' campaign on campuses and a drive to build support for strike action commencing Friday 13 March 2015 against job losses and loss of student places. The ballot closes today and results will be made available soon. Please send messages of support to belfast@ucu.org.uk

4. University of Salford redundancy dispute
A ballot for strike action at the University of Salford opens next week as a result of a dispute over the redundancy sackings of two UCU members in marketing and recruitment who were placed on gardening leave the day before a new restructure was announced and then subsequently dismissed without any due process in breach of local agreements and statutory obligations. Further dispute resolution talks with ACAS are taking place today. Please send messages of support to the branch president Bernie Maguire b.g.maguire@salford.ac.uk

5. International Women's Day, 8 March
UCU will be marking International Women's Day, with a film (available soon via the UCU website) and accompanying postcard which you can view here. To order copies please email jstephens@ucu.org.uk. We would be pleased to hear about any activity your branch or local association are planning to mark this day.

6. Celebrate the life and legacy of activist  Claudia Jones, Friday 6 March 2015
As part of UCU's celebrations of International Women's Day, members are invited to a free TUC event to mark the life and legacy of union activist and women's and civil rights campaigner Claudia Jones including live music, history, discussion and refreshments, Friday 6 March 2015, 6-8pm, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London. To register email: sertucevents@tuc.org.uk

7. UCU - working for casualised staff
UCU's annual meeting for staff on casualised contracts last Friday received a report on the progress of the union's stamp out casual contracts campaign detailing the work the union's done in the last year. You can read the full report and share it with your casualised colleagues here.

8. General election 2015: lobbying toolkit website
As we approach the general election in May 2015, UCU is providing members with a range of materials to help you engage with local candidates on issues relating to post-school education. These include UCU's main policy 'asks', summaries of each party's stance on key education and employment issues, template letters for writing to candidates and details about voter registration - the website is live here. Keep an eye on the campaign emails for updates on more material as it is produced.

9. Health educators' forum, Friday 17 April
UCU represents many health professionals working in the education sector and will be holding a discussion event on Friday 17 April  2015 looking at health education provision, policy and employment issues in the sector.

10. Sexual orientation and gender identity research conference
Registration is open and the call for papers is out for the triennial activist and academics' conference on sexual orientation and gender issues and/or LGBTQ lives. The conference is in Manchester on Friday 15 May. Information including the call for papers and link to the registration page is now online.

11. Events, updates and publications

  • 'The Union Wheel' - Sheffield Theatre Workshop, Saturday 21 March 2015
    A public reading and discussion on this play about trade union history will take place Saturday 21 March 2015, 2pm at the Sheffield Theatre Workshop and you can find out more details here.
  • UN Anti-Racism Day Demonstration - Saturday 21 March 2015 
     Anti-racist campaigners will be coming together on 21 March 2015 under the banner Stand Up To Racism and Fascism to celebrate diversity, welcome migrants, and commemorate the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre that took place under apartheid: 12 noon, central London followed by rally in Trafalgar Square. @AntiRacismDay
  • 'Woody Guthrie - the Long Road to Peekskill' Wednesday 18 March 2015
    A live music event featuring the songs of Woody Guthrie to mobilise for the Stand Up To Racism demonstration: Wednesday 18 March 2015, 7:30pm at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London. Register: sertucevents@tuc.org.uk
  • Annual meeting of academic related, professional staff (ARPS) - Wednesday 11 March 2015
    As an academic related, professional staff member do you sometimes feel you lack meaningful career development and that your role is seen as less professional than previously? Come along to the ARPS annual meeting where CPD will be the theme of the day. There are also places on the committee and nominations from ARPS members are welcomed (deadline extended until Thursday 5 March 2015).
  • 'Organising for sustainability'
    UCU has designed a new 3 day course called 'Organising for sustainability'. If you haven't attended an Environment Reps course yet or would like an update then please apply through the link below. The next course will be held in the UCU Birmingham office from 29-30 April 2015, with the final day on May 20. We hope it will also be a way of attracting members to take on the role so please circulate within your branch. The course is accredited as a TUC Award through the Open College Network. 2015 is going to be a crucial year for sustainability in the education sector and beyond; help your branch to play its part

All the best,

Justine Stephens
UCU head of campaigns

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