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The Friday email: 3 February 2023

3 February 2023

UCU Rising: strike action resumes on 9 and 10 February

UCU members in higher education today voted to overwhelmingly reject UCEA's latest pay offer. Over 30,000 members voted in an electronic ballot held over four days with 80.4% supporting the union's position of rejecting the employers' offer.

With no acceptable offer on the table members will resume strike action this coming week, on Thursday 9 February and Friday 10 February. You can:

Please note that action short of a strike (ASOS) began on Wednesday 23 November 2022 (Friday 18 November 2022 for Northern Ireland) and continues to be LIVE; this includes:

  • working to contract
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities.

The union also announced a re-ballot of members in both the pay and working conditions dispute and the USS pensions dispute to begin in the week commencing 20 February. We will confirm the full re-ballot timetable and practicalities very soon. Please note that Great Britain and Northern Ireland have different legislation and codes of practice in relation to industrial action and ballots, and members at Northern Ireland higher education institutions will not need to be re-balloted.

Respect FE: campaigning in further education colleges

Sheffield College staff will go on strike this coming week on Tuesday 7 February and Thursday 9 February after receiving a pay offer of just 2.5%.

Members at City College Norwich are balloting for industrial action from Tuesday 7 February after management tabled a divisive pay offer to three different staff groups. Lecturers would receive 4% whilst other staff would receive just 2.5%. The lowest paid staff would lose the protection from low pay as management rips up its status as a Real Living Wage employer. UCU branch membership has more than doubled since the branch lodged the claim on pay and local conditions.

Following a meeting of the union's further education committee (FEC) last week, we are about to relaunch the Respect FE campaign for better pay, manageable workloads and professional respect. Meanwhile:

UCU national and Scotland elections 2023: use your vote

Ballots for UCU officer and national executive committee (NEC) positions opened on Thursday 26 January. If you have not received your postal ballot materials by Monday 6 February, please visit this page where you will be able to request replacement voting papers.

Elections for honorary treasurer of UCU Scotland and members of the UCU Scotland executive committee also opened on Thursday 26 January and ballot materials should be arriving with Scotland-based members shortly. If you are a member in a Scottish branch and have not received your postal ballot materials by Monday 6 February, please visit this page where you will be able to request replacement voting papers.

Threat of redundancies at University of East Anglia

University of East Anglia's threats to make compulsory redundancies across the workforce have been followed by silence from university management. After a 700-strong all-staff meeting called by UCU, UNISON and Unite, no plans to avoid redundancies have been tabled by UEA. The unions' requests for financial information and university expenditure have not been answered. UEA UCU branch are preparing campaigning activity under the banner of a dispute to save all jobs and to challenge the lack of clear plans and information. Support amongst the local and wider community is building; messages of solidarity can be sent to the branch via UEA UCU's Twitter account.

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.

UCU LGBT+ research conference

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.

Last updated: 6 February 2023