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The Friday email: 13 January 2023

13 January 2023

UCU Rising: upcoming industrial action

The union's higher education committee (HEC) met on Thursday 12 January to determine the next steps in the UCU Rising dispute. The employer body Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) made an offer on pay; this was rejected by HEC. Further, HEC decided on the following:

  • 18 days of strike action at 150 higher education institutions across February and March 2023--the union will share the exact dates as soon as possible
  • a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) strategically targeted to hit summer graduations--the MAB previously called for January will now not go ahead
  • the launch of a re-ballot to renew the union's industrial action mandate.

In the coming days, we will launch the biggest engagement plan in the union's history. We will build our membership, build pickets and build solidarity. We are also determined to build the profile of this dispute to add pressure on employers. To that end, we have secured an hour of live radio on LBC on Thursday 19 January at 16:00 where general secretary Jo Grady will take calls from the public on our dispute. 

Respect FE: action suspended at City College Plymouth and Truro & Penwith College

After taking eleven days of industrial action, City College Plymouth UCU branch got an agreement to refer the dispute to Acas. Talks went right up the wire, with five more days planned this month, but the joint unions were able to negotiate a staged and graded pay award for 2022-23 up to 6.5% for members on the lowest scales. They have secured the integrity of lecturer roles in a job evaluation scheme, while taking on talks to ensure better pay progression for lecturers. This will hit pay packets this month, while leaving 2023-24 open to further pay talks.

UCU and NEU members at Truro & Penwith College have secured meaningful talks with the employer after weeks of resistance from the principalship. Union officials were locked out of meetings and reps were refused access to accounts in pay talks. Members have had 3.75% staged over August and November but there is no evidence the college cannot afford more. The members stood firm, with thirteen days of action taken in the 2022-23 Respect FE campaign, with the employer now agreeing to open the books in Acas talks. The joint unions look forward to negotiations to find a resolution.

Northern Ireland further education pay and workload dispute

The Northern Ireland further education committee (FEC) voted unanimously before Christmas to escalate the industrial action campaign regarding pay and workload. Corporate staff have received an acceptable pay award while not so much as an offer has been made to FE lecturers in Northern Ireland. The FEC are asking members to complete a survey, which has already been sent to Northern Ireland FE members, regarding forms of action short of a strike (ASOS) and level of strike action.

University of Roehampton: industrial action over job security and workloads

Roehampton UCU will be on strike on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 January as part of their local dispute over redundancies and punishing workloads. You can send statements of solidarity, which Roehampton UCU members would greatly appreciate. Any members or branches able to visit the picket lines would be very welcome; please email for further information.

Click here to see the latest updates in local disputes and wins across the union.

Emergency demo: protect the right to strike, 16 January

This week the government tabled legislation, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, that launches a fundamental attack on our right to strike. The second reading of this bill takes place in parliament on Monday 16 January and the RMT have organised an emergency demo. Meet opposite 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA on Monday 16 January at 18:00.

Our general secretary Jo Grady will be addressing the demonstration and we urge UCU members who can get to London to join and send a clear message to government that we will simply not accept this attack on our democratic and human rights.

Hustings for UCU officer positions, 2 February

Ballots for UCU officer and national executive committee (NEC) positions will open on Thursday 26 January. A live online hustings event for the positions of UCU vice-president (becoming president in 2025-26) and honorary treasurer will be taking place on Thursday 2 February, 12:30-14:00.

All members may submit a question to the two candidates standing for vice-president and/or the three candidates standing for honorary treasurer at the hustings. If you wish to submit a question, please use the online form here. Questions must be submitted by noon on Thursday 26 January.

Climate CPD - Take action! webinar, 26 January

We are calling all members who have taken part in our climate and sustainability workshops to attend a webinar at 10:30 on Thursday 26 January. We want to hear about your experiences around climate action in your workplace. We want to understand what support you need from us and keep you up to date with the work of branches around the regions and devolved nations. Please register for the webinar here.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 is 'ordinary people'. It highlights the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted. It also prompts us to consider how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can play a part in challenging prejudice today. You can find all of UCU's Holocaust Memorial Day resources on our website here.

Visit the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website for further information and ideas for how to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 in your branch.

Postgraduate researchers organising conference, 31 January

Join the UCU PGRs As Staff campaign for our first annual PGRs organising conference in London and online on Tuesday 31 January 2023, 11:00-16:00. The deadline for registration is Tuesday 17 January 2023; please note that in-person spaces have already sold out.

We are inviting expressions of interest for up to three workshops, presentations and discussion sessions run by you. Sessions will be 45 minutes long. You can submit your ideas using this form.

Save the date: Organising for Power event on Zoom, 23 January

Any members who have completed Jane McAlevey's Strike School/Organising for Power (O4P) programme are invited to attend a very special event.

We are fortunate to be joined by two representatives from the Ver.di union in Berlin, the second largest trade union in Germany. They will be presenting on their successful dispute which led to tangible wins in the health sector for thousands of workers as a result of their completion of the O4P programme. The event will be held on Monday 23 January 15:00-17:00 on Zoom. The link will be made available in next week's Friday email.

UCU LGBT+ charter and LGBT+ research conference

Many UCU reps and members are interested in doing something to support our LGBT+ members and students. UCU is strong in support of all LGBT+ rights backed by years of policy passed by UCU members at annual Congress. To promote constructive ways of organising and campaigning for LGBT+ rights at branch level a UCU LGBT+ charter has been launched. The aim of the charter is to identify actions that branches can take to promote LGBT+ equality and liberation. The charter microsite contains further information, key UCU LGBT+ documents, and details about how branches can sign up.

The UCU LGBT+ research conference will be a hybrid meeting taking place at the University of Manchester and online on Friday 19 May 2023. Call for papers is now open, proposals of no more than 500 words can be submitted here with a deadline of Monday 27 February.

Regulation for the conduct of members (Rule 13)

A panel of national executive committee (NEC) members has applied a sanction under Rule. UCU members can click here for further information.

Last updated: 16 January 2023