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The Friday email: 10 February 2023

10 February 2023

Image: striking university staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University

UCU Rising: pay and conditions dispute moves to Acas

UCU members in higher education were out in force on the picket lines this week and will be on strike again next week on Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February over pay, casualisation, equality pay gaps and workloads, as well as cuts to our USS pensions. 

Our action is working and the employers have now agreed to meetings with the mediators Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) on Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 February. We also continue negotiations on USS pensions, and are hopeful that forthcoming figures will further strengthen our case for benefit restoration. Members are encouraged to show their support for the union in these negotiations by changing their profile picture and printing out this poster.

To keep the pressure on our employers and win game-changing deals in both disputes the union will be re-balloting members from the week commencing 20 February. Members are encouraged to check that their address and phone number is up to date on MyUCU now to make sure they receive their ballot.

Respect FE latest: vote YES in the e-ballot from 3 March

Members in FE colleges (England) will be invited to vote in an e-ballot consultation to demonstrate support for a possible national aggregated industrial action ballot on pay, workload and professionalism. Voting will open on Friday 3 March and members in participating branches will receive an email from UCU containing a unique weblink to participate. The consultation will close on Friday 24 March. A further education special conference (FESC) on 1 April will then make decisions on the campaign including deciding on a national aggregated industrial action ballot. An aggregated ballot means all UCU college branches are included and we need to achieve over 50% turnout overall and a 'Yes' vote to take any strike action.

UCU wins pay deal at West Thames College

This week UCU welcomed a deal at West Thames College that will see a 5% consolidated pay rise across the board for 2022/23. The college had agreed in December 2022 to a 3% pay award for 2022/23, which was backdated to the start of term and paid in the December salary, subject to further negotiations with UCU. A further 2% consolidated increase will now be paid and back dated to the start of term. The deal was won through effective and meaningful negotiation with West Thames College, following a strong mandate for strike action achieved in an earlier e-ballot, and shows that there is money in the sector to help staff through the cost of living crisis.

Please click here to see the ongoing disputes and wins across different sectors represented by UCU.

UCU national and Scotland elections 2023: use your vote

Elections for UCU officer and national executive committee (NEC) positions and elections for honorary treasurer of UCU Scotland and members of the UCU Scotland executive committee opened on Thursday 26 January.

If you have not yet received your postal ballot materials, please visit this page where you will be able to request replacement voting papers.

Post-picket open meeting for all ARPS members, 16 February

Join fellow academic related and professional services (ARPS) UCU members, including members of the ARPS committee to share ideas, talk through issues and build connections at our first online open meeting on Thursday 16 February at 13:00, via Zoom. All welcome, bring your lunch, bring your thoughts about how ARPS members are striking and what we can do to support each other.
Please register in advance.

Adult and community education briefing, 23 February

Join your adult and community education (ACE) colleagues to be part of this crucial briefing, which will take place on Thursday 23 February 14:00-16:00 at UCU head office, Carlow Street NW1 7LH and online. UCU London regional office has called this important briefing to allow branch officers, reps and members working in the ACE sector to come together to discuss where we are, and more importantly, where we want to be in 2023.

This is your opportunity to take part in an industrial and organising update and discussion - led by Adam Lincoln, UCU regional official (London FE) - with a presentation from Ruth Lennard, Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES) UCU branch secretary. There will also be a policy and funding update from Forogh Rahmani (Greater London Authority) and TUC regional secretary Sam Gurney. To register, please email Alex Nightingale with your name, institution and whether you will attend in person or online.

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.

Amnesty International survey on counter-extremism and human rights in the UK

Amnesty International UK are investigating the impact of the Prevent duty--part of the UK government's strategy for countering terrorism--on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Amnesty are conducting a short online survey and are especially keen to hear from those working in education, health and other public services that are subject to the Prevent duty.

SOS NHS coalition national demonstration, 11 March

The SOS NHS coalition has called a national demonstration in London on Saturday 11 March to respond urgently to the NHS crisis and to bring striking workers from the NHS, different sectors and different unions in one big action. UCU is supporting the event and UCU president Janet Farrar will be speaking.

Organising for Power (O4P) Ver.di union in Berlin on their win in the health sector

UCU members who have completed Jane McAlevey's Strike School/Organising for Power (O4P) programme were invited to attend a very special event with representatives from the Ver.di union in Berlin, the second largest trade union in Germany. They presented 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. You can watch a recording of the meeting here.

Last updated: 13 February 2023