Fighting fund banner


220527 HE disputes MAB 1200px

The Friday email: 27 May 2022

27 May 2022

Four Fights and USS pensions disputes: marking and assessment boycott

On Monday 23 May, action short of a strike (ASOS) began at 42 UCU branches for the Four Fights and/or USS pensions disputes--many branches are also taking part in a marking and assessment boycott (MAB). Please click here for a complete list.

If your branch is participating in MAB on top of ASOS, you can:

If your branch is not participating in MAB but is in ASOS, you can:

All UCU HE members are also encouraged to read the advice for migrant workers, and to donate to the fighting fund in support of branches taking industrial action. If you act as an external examiner for an institution which is participating in MAB or you are a line manager or head of department, the MAB FAQ also has advice on what you should do.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady wrote to Universities Minister Michelle Donelan this week to highlight that employers are threatening to deduct 100% of pay from members taking part in the marking and assessment boycott and bring in replacement agency workers. Grady urged the government to instruct vice chancellors against using these disgusting tactics

Developments at universities of Wolverhampton, Roehampton and De Montfort

University of Wolverhampton announced that it was 'suspending' student recruitment to 146 courses for the coming academic year. Students who have received and accepted offers on those 146 courses (to start in September 2022) have now been referred back to UCAS to see if they could go elsewhere. A significant number of Wolverhampton staff will be at risk of redundancy yet no consultation with UCU has taken place. By its various actions management appears to be trying to avoid scrutiny and its duty to consult, and in doing so may be putting the university at risk of legal action.

As reported last week, 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 Roehampton's academic staff. Management 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.

Meanwhile, De Montfort University wants to sack 58 members of staff in a bid to 'save money', but the institution is currently sitting on roughly £120m in reserves. All UCU members are encouraged to sign this petition now and to disseminate it widely.

We will have more updates as soon as we receive them. UCU members at Wolverhampton, Roehampton and De Montfort have been invited to meetings on 'Redundancy: resistance and representation' on how we can collectively fight back against these latest attacks. As always, UCU is committed to defending jobs and resisting cuts.

Respect FE: UCU rejects AoC recommendation and moves to ballot

UCU and the other further education unions have rejected a recommendation of a 2.5% pay rise made by the Association of Colleges (AoC) this week. UCU now plans to move to an industrial action ballot in 32 branches and, once the elected officers have met, will announce ballot dates opening in June and closing in July. If your branch is taking part then please look out for further communications and hard copy materials arriving soon to support your get the vote out (GTVO) campaigns.

Richmond upon Thames College: strike over 'fire and rehire'

Staff at Richmond upon Thames College (RUTC) went on 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 new contracts that would see them lose 10 days of annual leave. UCU general secretary Jo Grady, Barry Gardiner MP and Labour peer John Hendy QC all spoke at a well attended rally outside RUTC earlier. You can:

Staffordshire University dispute: further negotiations 

Staff at Staffordshire University downed tools for four days in March and April over management's decision to employ new staff via a wholly owned subsidiary company and on inferior terms and conditions--including denying them access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS). Staffordshire UCU members are currently undertaking action short of a strike (ASOS); negotiations are happening in an attempt to resolve this dispute before a further escalation of industrial action.

MP joined protest at University of Cambridge over 'gig economy' working conditions

Undergraduate supervisors who deliver the University of Cambridge's tutorials were protesting today to demand an end to their 'gig economy' working conditions and for fair pay, secure contracts and paid training. The rally, organised by the 'Justice4CollegeSupervisors' campaign, took place on Friday 27 May. Speakers include Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, chair of the All Party Parliamentary University Group, and local councillors Dr Alex Bulat and Alice Gilderdale.

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. 

Protecting staff and students after Child Q, Tuesday 31 May

In 2020 Child Q, a Black female child, was strip searched by police at her secondary school. The subsequent safeguarding report found the search on Child Q was unjustified and racism was 'likely' to have been a factor. This UCU equality fringe will take an intersectional look at the steps that UCU members can take to protect their students and themselves in a discussion set around Child Q's experiences. The online event will take place on Tuesday 31 May, 17:00-18:00 and you can click here to register.

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.

Thinking of leaving your occupational pension?

If you or your co-workers are thinking about leaving your occupational pension scheme, please read this new briefing by UCU before you make any final decisions. There may be more to lose than you realise.

Important message regarding Milton Keynes College and prison education

Do you work for Milton Keynes College as either a prison education or college lecturer/tutor? Do you work as a prison education lecturer/tutor for NOVUS or PeoplePlus now but have worked for Milton Keynes College in the past and so currently work under a TUPE MKC contract at one of these providers? Have you worked as a prison education lecturer/tutor for MKC or under a MKC contract any time between May 2016 and May 2022 and have since left their employ?

If your answer is 'Yes' to any of the above questions, you may have a claim for unpaid incremental pay awards going back for up to six years--it does not matter if you no longer work in the sector; you may still have a claim.

UCU is currently investigating a breach of contract claim for non-payment of performance related increments. We would love to hear from you.

If you would like to take part in this investigation please email UCU's bargaining and negotiations department requesting a case enquiry form and return it no later than Friday 17 June 2022. All information received will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

UCU Congress, Wednesday 1-Friday 3 June

The union's supreme policy-making body is its annual Congress, which will take place online from Wednesday 1 to Friday 3 June. Congress includes separate annual meetings of UCU's further and higher education sector conferences, where policies particular to those areas are decided. Many UCU staff will be observing or providing technical assistance at Congress. We hope to see you online and our Friday email will resume on 10 June. 

Please update your contact details on MyUCU

Finally, please spare a few minutes to check and update your contact details using MyUCU. The union will be running many key campaigns in the coming weeks and months, and we want to make sure that you will have your say.

Last updated: 27 May 2022