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The Friday email: 20 January 2023

20 January 2023

Respect FE: campaigning in colleges in 2023

Further education (FE) workers are keeping up the pressure on college bosses in support of our Respect FE campaign for better pay, manageable workloads and professional respect, with several branches taking or balloting for industrial action and others settling with improved deals.

Over 200 staff at Sheffield College have been on strike today (Friday 20 January) after receiving a pay offer of just 2.5%. Further dates of strike action include Monday 30 January, Tuesday 7 February and Thursday 9 February. Members at Havant and South Downs College (HSDC) are being balloted for industrial action. The college has made a pay offer of between 4.3% to 2.6% for different grades. The ballot will close on Friday 3 February.

The union's further education committee (FEC) will meet next week to discuss the next steps in the national campaign and we will be communicating and consulting with UCU members and branches in the coming weeks and months.

UCU Rising: 18 days of strike action to begin on 1 February

UCU members in higher education are taking 18 days of strike action across February and March beginning on Wednesday 1 February. Members will be informed of the dates of the other 17 days of action early next week.

Next week UCU will also be announcing a re-ballot of all members involved in the UCU Rising disputes, with a view to extending our mandate into the summer. In anticipation of this, we are asking all members to check and update their contact details via MyUCU.

Strike action at Imperial College and redundancies at University of East Anglia

On Monday 23 January, Imperial College UCU members will be out on the picket lines alongside colleagues from Unite on their second day of strike action over locally negotiated pay. You can send messages of solidarity and visits to the picket lines would be very welcome.

University of East Anglia (UEA) has announced that it is looking at making compulsory redundancies as a cost-cutting measure in the next few months. Our general secretary Jo Grady has stated, 'University staff are asked to pay the price. Solidarity with our UEA branch--the entire union stands shoulder to shoulder with you in fighting this'.

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. Please register in advance using this registration form.

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. Any member can submit a question; please use this online form here. Questions must be submitted by noon on Thursday 26 January.

Standing together to oppose the hostile environment, 28 January

Next Saturday 28 January 10:00 - 15:30, the UCU Migrant Members' Standing Committee (MMSC) is hosting a conference on opposing the hostile environment with migrant rights organisers and trade unionists. Speakers include Dr S Chelvan, Regularise, JCWI, TUC, FBU and more. Click here to sign up now and receive a Zoom link.

UCU migrant members' survey results

UCU's migrant members' standing committee (MMSC) recently conducted a survey to help understand how UCU support for migrant members could be enhanced. It examined the most effective ways to communicate the support UCU offers migrant members. It also asked what additional support was needed at branch level and national level. The final survey report is now available here.

Organising for Power event on Zoom, 23 January

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 present on their successful dispute, which led to tangible wins in the health sector for thousands of workers, as a result of completing the O4P programme.

The event will be held on Monday 23 January 15:00-17:00 on Zoom. Click here to register.
There is a 20-minute documentary on YouTube about Ver.di's campaign (German with English subtitles). As part of their UK visit, there will also be an in-person evening event in London on Tuesday 24 January; click here for further details and all welcome.

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.

UCU and LGBT+: research conference and statement on Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill

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.

This week the UK government took the unprecedented step to block the implementation of the Scottish Parliament's Gender Recognition Reform Bill. UCU supports the legislation as agreed by its annual Congress, provided supportive submissions to the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament consultations during this process, and will continue to support the full implementation of this law. Click here for UCU's full statement.

PGR cost of living crisis

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Students has launched an inquiry on the cost of living crisis for students. The inquiry must take into account the experiences of postgraduate students who still have student status. UCU has put together a survey to help inform our submission to the inquiry. If you are a current PGR, please complete it and share widely with PGR colleagues. The deadline for responses is 12 February 2023.

NUS Scotland rally, 1 February

National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland is holding a rally on Wednesday 1 February at 12:30 outside the Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood, on cuts to the further and higher education budgets and cuts to student support. As well as student speakers, UCU Scotland president Lena WÃ¥nggren will address the rally which is being held on the first day of UCU's unprecedented 18 days of strike action. UCU branches are encouraged to attend with banners. Click here for more information on the rally and to pledge support.

Last updated: 26 January 2023