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The Friday email: 20 May 2022

20 May 2022

Developments at Universities of Wolverhampton and Roehampton

UCU has written to the vice-chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton to raise concerns about the suspension of recruitment to over 100 courses, which could see a significant number of staff facing redundancy. UCU demanded urgent clarity over the decision and raised concerns that the plans may be in contravention of employment laws. The majority of the courses under threat are in performing arts, fashion, social sciences, interior design and fine art.

UCU vows to fight the cull of academics at University of Roehampton. The warning came after university management told staff the intention to cull the number of courses on offer and sack 226 academics--half of its academic staff. It then intends to make those who want to stay compete for far fewer new jobs, many of which will be short term contracts to teach out the courses that are being shut down. The schools of arts, humanities and social sciences, education, psychology and life and health sciences have all been targeted.

UCU branches, as well as regional and national staff, are busily working behind the scenes for members at all institutions affected. Further announcements will be made soon.

Higher education: Four Fights and USS pensions disputes

UCU's higher education committee (HEC) met this week and the union is writing to branches and members separately this afternoon regarding marking and assessment boycott action, which has now been authorised by the elected national HE officers--the president, the vice-president (higher education), and the two HEC vice-chairs.

Further education fights back in North West England: Bury College wins deal

Strike action scheduled to start on Wednesday 18 May at Bury College was called off after UCU members overwhelmingly voted to accept an eleventh hour pay offer worth between 6% and 6.2% overall. The offer is triple the management's original offer of only 2% and a significant victory for the local branch.

At the same time strike action over pay took place at five other FE colleges in North West England: Nelson & Colne College, Burnley College, City of Liverpool College, Oldham College, and Hopwood Hall College. The Manchester College is due to start strike action today (Friday 20 May). Picket lines were very well supported by members as UCU called on the other employers to follow the example of Bury College.

Furness College: industrial action over pay

This week, UCU members at Furness College took a day's strike action after an offer of 1% on pay. Speaking about the dispute and the strike action, Furness UCU branch secretary Amanda Rotherham said, 'The support that we had on the picket line was great--and the sun came out for us! Pay is a crucial issue for our members at this moment in time. We know that we deserve more - and that' what we are fighting for'. You can send messages of support via here and read further updates here from UCU's regional officials.

Richmond upon Thames College: strike over plan to 'fire and rehire' over 100 teachers

Staff at Richmond upon Thames College (RUTC) are set to strike for five days (Monday 23 to Friday 27 May) over plans by management to sack all 127 teachers at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions if they want to stay. 97% of UCU members backed strike action in the industrial ballot on a 88% turnout. Dismissal meetings are being arranged right now, and we need you to share this tweet and write to RUTC management using this tool telling them to withdraw this disgusting attack on our members.

RUTC staff will be picketing the college here from 07:00-11:00 every day of strike action. There will also be an in-person mass rally at this location in support of the strikers on Monday 23 May 11:00. Speakers include: RUTC strikers; UCU general secretary Jo Grady; UCU incoming president Janet Farrar; Barry Gardiner MP; UCU London regional official Adam Lincoln; and other surprise guests. Please come down and show your support on Monday morning.

University of Winchester: Workload Allocation Model dispute

University of Winchester is seeking to impose changes to the Workload Allocation Model (WAM) and has ignored the established system of collective bargaining. An industrial ballot for strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS) opened on Thursday 5 May and will close on Wednesday 25 May. Click on this page for more on this dispute.

Ten days of strike action at Queen Mary, University of London

UCU members at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) started ten days of industrial action on Thursday 5 May. This action is being taken because QMUL management has refused to provide a commitment not to deduct 100% of pay for action short of a strike (ASOS) in the Four Fights and USS pension disputes. Click here for more information and donate to QMUL's local strike fund if you can.

Damning investigation into Covid safety at Burnley College

A damning investigation into Covid safety at Burnley College after the tragic death of teacher Donna Coleman found that 'health and safety laws...were broken' by the college. This is the first time an education sector employer has been issued with a formal notice in relation to Covid failings by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Click here to read more.

Investment in staff 'only way' to resolve prison education workforce crisis

UCU said investment was the only way to resolve the crisis in prison education. UCU was responding to a report from the Education Select Committee on prison education that described the current system as a 'chaotic' one that was failing learners and is crying out for an overhaul. Click here for statements from UCU general secretary Jo Grady and from Kim Johnson MP.

UCU Black members' standing committee annual memorial event, Wednesday 25 May

George Floyd: Two years on... what has changed? The aftermath of the murder of George Floyd saw a surge of anti-racist awareness and political activity across the world. In post-16 education a number of institutions made bold statements of intent with regard to tackling race discrimination. UCU's online memorial event, to take place on Wednesday 25 May 17:00-18:30, casts a critical eye over what has happened two years on from Floyd's death. During the session we will be joined by Joan Brown, mother of Osime Brown, and Chi Kim Phung who will share their stories of discrimination at the hands of the state as experienced by them and their families. You can register here.

PhD disability experience survey

We have launched a survey to explore the experiences of PhD students and recent PhD graduates who are disabled, neurodivergent, living with a chronic illness, or experience mental health conditions and/or issues. Please fill in our survey to contribute your experiences. The survey will be open until Sunday 12 June. For alternative survey formats, please see the link for further information. 

UCU workload campaign re-launch event, Wednesday 8 June

The UCU workload campaign gives us the tools to tackle increasing workloads and working hours using a health and safety, organising and campaigning approach. Come along to our online event on Wednesday 8 June, 16:00-17:30 and join UCU general secretary Jo Grady and incoming president Janet Farrar as we hear from a range of speakers including FE and HE reps on how they are fighting back against excessive workloads. For more information and to register click here.

Can you help to give Academic-Related and Professional Services (ARPS) staff a bigger voice?

Are you a member of ARPS staff? Are you trying to organise ARPS colleagues in your institution? If the answer is yes to both questions, please consider doing these three things:

Build the TUC demonstration, Saturday 18 June

Please help build the TUC demonstration on Saturday 18 June demanding action on the cost of living and a pay rise for all. UCU is supporting the demonstration and will be highlighting our own campaigns on pay for education workers. Assemble: 11:00, Portland Place W1, march at 12 noon, rally at 13:00 in Parliament Square in London.

Last updated: 25 May 2022