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Campaign update: 23 May 2014

Misuse of public funds at for-profit colleges | UCU rejects FE England pay offer | Lambeth College ballot result | Professional standards for teachers and trainers in England | In the news | Policy hub: EU -US trade deal | Events, updates and publications

Dear colleague,

Welcome to this week's UCU Campaigns Update.

  1. Investigation into misuse of public funds at for-profit colleges
  2. FE pay talks - UCU rejects the offer
  3. Lambeth College ballot result
  4. Professional standards for teachers and trainers in England
  5. In the news
  6. Policy hub: EU -US trade deal
  7. Events, updates and publications

1. Investigation into misuse of public funds at for-profit colleges:
UCU welcomes the news that the National Audit Office is to investigate potential misuse of public funds in the private higher education sector following allegations that standards in for-profit colleges are not good enough and have far too easy access to taxpayers' money. UCU said the government had ignored repeated warnings from the union as far back as June 2010 about the lack of proper quality checks at private institutions. More press coverage here and here

2. FE pay talks - UCU rejects the offer:
UCU, together with the other FE trade unions, have rejected an offer of a 0.7% pay rise by the Association of Colleges (AoC) at a meeting of the National Joint Forum (NJF) held in London on Friday 16 May. The next talks are scheduled for Wednesday 18 June. Annual sector conference next week will no doubt express frustration with the employers' offer.
You can read more about the campaign here and the latest FE news is available here.

3. Lambeth College ballot result:
Staff at Lambeth College have once again voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in a bitter dispute over proposals to impose inferior contracts. A massive 89.1% of staff who voted, backed the call for industrial action on a turnout of 71.5%. The union was forced to reballot members after the college used anti-trade union laws to stop strike action going ahead earlier this month. Please continue to send solidarity messages to the branch via jstephens@ucu.org.uk

4. Professional standards for teachers and trainers in England:
The Education and Training Foundation this week released new professional standards for the lifelong learning sector reinforcing UCU's call for dedicated time and resources for lecturers to prepare, plan, and update skills.

5. In the news:
120 jobs at risk at King's where expensive building programme is underway. Stockport College is accused of trying to rush through plans to axe 150 jobs. Dundee University ballots over potential job losses and the Open University is criticised for putting its regional work at risk.

6. Policy hub: EU-US trade deal:
A new LRD article highlights the work that UCU and other unions have been doing on the EU-US trade deal. The original article is in the May issue of Labour Research.

7. Events, updates and publications:

  • National officer by-election - Vice-President HE result:
    The result of the ballot for Vice-President from the higher education sector has been declared and the successful candidate, Joanna de Groot, takes up position at the end of Congress 2014: http://www.ucu.org.uk/byelection
  • Anti-casualisation organising conference Thursday 5 June:
    As increasing numbers of education staff face insecure employment and life on a casual contract, UCU is holding an event on Thursday 5th June for members who want to get more active and involved in the union's anti-casualisation campaign.
  • Are you on a casual contract? Help the TUC's campaigning:
    As part of its campaigning on job insecurity and casualised work, the TUC has launched an on-line survey and is particularly interested in responses from zero hours contract workers, agency workers, and those in temporary work. The survey closes on 20 June.
  • Dundee University has this week been voted as offering the best student experience in Scotland. Despite this the University are still forcing ahead to cut up to 120 jobs, and have not ruled out compulsory redundancies. Please sign the petition.
  • New black activists/members course:
    This course is aimed at new black activists and members who are keen to get involved with their branch and the wider union.
  • Bahrain human rights campaign:
    Human rights in Bahrain - Please support the Amnesty campaign to free Madhi, imprisoned for defending teachers' rights in Bahrain.

All the best,

Justine Stephens
Head of Campaigns, UCU

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