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The Friday email: 4 November 2022

4 November 2022

Image: UCU members at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale

UCU Rising: HEC decided the next steps

UCU's higher education committee (HEC) met this week to discuss the next steps in the UCU Rising campaigns on pay, working conditions, and USS pensions for university staff. Following UCU's historic ballot result for action, on Thursday HEC members voted to serve notice on employers of three days of strike action to commence towards the end of November. HEC also voted to trigger a marking and assessment boycott in the new year and to escalate action from February unless employers get serious and negotiate a settlement with UCU members. Watch our general secretary Jo Grady announcing the plan here, and look out for full details and confirmed dates next week. Meanwhile, please read the UCU Rising FAQs which are continually updated.

Respect FE: UCU winning on pay at Hopwood Hall College

UCU welcomed a pay deal which will see most lecturers at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale awarded a 9.2% increase in pay. An overwhelming 98% of UCU members at Hopwood voted to accept the offer, which will arrive in this month's pay packets and is back dated to August. The deal is worth 9.2% for most lecturers. For new lecturers who are at the bottom of the spine and for Skills Development Coaches the deal is worth 20.25%, over £5k. All pay awards are consolidated. The deal also includes a commitment to creating a joint workload agreement with UCU before the end of the academic year. Read more about our Respect FE campaign here.

Prison education: pay and conditions gains for Novus branch

Wednesday evening saw the biggest ever turnout (over 170) for a UCU members' meeting in Novus. Following a thorough debate, the decision of the branch was to accept the improved pay and conditions offer. On the pay element the lowest paid will be awarded 8.4% with most members in the Tutor/Trainers grades gaining between 5% and 6%. The rate will reduce gradually from 4% to just over 2% for managerial grades. On the conditions element all members who work in prisons will be given 'gate time' which means they will be paid for the time passing through all the security measures to get to work. This issue is a cause the UCU have been fighting for over 20 years and is a major step in treating prison educators as equals in the prison system.

Strike over low pay set to hit Barnet and Southgate College open day

Barnet and Southgate College will be hit with strike action on Wednesday 16 November, impacting the college's open day. Staff have already taken three days of strike action in the dispute which is over management's paltry 2% pay award for the previous two financial years (1% 2020-21 and 1% 2021-22). UCU said the college has two weeks to make a meaningful pay offer or its members will picket the college open day at the High Barnet campus.

Ballot opens at Darlington College over low pay

UCU members at Darlington College are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over low pay. The ballot opened on Monday 31 October and will run until Monday 14 November. The ballot comes after the employer imposed a pay award of just 1% alongside a one off payment of £250.

Birkbeck threatens to sack 140 staff

UCU slammed plans by Birkbeck, University of London to sack 140 staff this academic year, including up to a quarter of teaching staff, and up to a third of administrative staff. UCU vowed to fight the cuts, which it said are a disaster for students and the university, and is threatening potential industrial action.

Update on BTECs and Protect Student Choice

After a hard-fought campaign to protect applied general qualifications (AGQ), BTECs are here to stay, with only a few Level 3 qualifications being defunded for the time being. However, there are challenges ahead as courses will have to go through a reapproval process, plus a second round of qualifications to be 'retired' due to be announced next year. Read the full update on BTECs here.

IFS analysis on further education spending

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has recently published analysis on the latest trends in further education and sixth form colleges in England. The IFS comments that the pay rise for college staff 'will need to end up higher than 2.5%', which is what UCU's Respect FE campaign has been demanding. You can read the full IFS commentary here and UCU's FE cost of living report (July 2022) here.

Review of rule 13 (conduct of members) procedure: call for submissions

The rule 13 (conduct of members) procedure is being reviewed by an elected commission. If you have been involved in the rule 13 procedure in the last seven years, whether as complainant, respondent, witness or in any other role, you are invited to give feedback on your experience to inform the commission's work. A form for submitting comments and further information can be found here.

UK officer and NEC elections in 2023: nominations now open

Nominations are now open for vacancies for UCU vice president (becoming president in 2025-26), honorary treasurer and for more than 20 positions on UCU's national executive committee (NEC). Full details of terms of office for these positions, the full calling notice and nomination forms can be found here, or requested from Kay Metcalfe. The deadline for completed nominations is Friday 11 November, 17:00.

UCU's LGBT+ work

UCU is delighted to have brought together a collection of papers drawn from presentations made at the sixth LGBT+ research conference, 'LGBT+ Liberation: LGBT+ lives and issues in the context of normativities'. These papers have been published on the UCU website

Trans awareness week will take place between 13 and 19 November. UCU has organised a webinar on Tuesday 15 November, 16:30, entitled 'Trans and non-binary equality: awareness and action', to raise awareness about experiences of trans and non-binary people and how equality can be realised across UCU. You can register for the webinar here.

Legislation on buffer zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales

MPs have passed an amendment to the Public Order Bill to introduce mandatory buffer zones outside abortion clinics in England and Wales. Under the proposed law, harassing, obstructing or interfering with any woman attending an abortion clinic will become a criminal offence. Protesters found guilty of breaching the buffer zones--which would extend 150 metres from the clinics--could face up to six months in jail. UCU has been a longstanding supporter of the 'Back Off' campaign led by British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) to introduce such buffer zones.

Sheku Bayoh Family Justice campaign public meeting

Sheku Bayoh died in 2015 after being restrained by police in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Support the Sheku Bayoh Family Justice campaign and attend the public meeting on Wednesday 9 November, 19:00 at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow G2 3NY. Speakers include: Aamer Anwar, family solicitor; Roz Foyer, STUC general secretary; Lena Wånggren, UCU Scotland president; and others.

Last updated: 4 November 2022