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The Friday email: 24 March 2023

24 March 2023

UCU Rising: your last chance to vote and have your say on our next steps

Time is running out for members in higher education to vote in our reballot in our pay and conditions and USS pensions disputes. The last safe date to post is Tuesday 28 MarchLet us know as soon as you have voted or if you require a replacement ballot paper here. The deadline for requesting a replacement ballot is Sunday 26 March at 23:59.

Members in the UCU Rising disputes have today also received an informal e-consultation to find out whether they want members to be formally consulted on the latest proposals from employers. We have listened to concerns about the last e-consultation and this new survey comes with clearer questions and clear information. We are also taking the response for each dispute separately. Please have your say and vote right away!

You can read the latest New JNCHES trade union side statement from the joint unions here in response to UCEA's latest statement

We are also relaunching the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) training which we started last year. These one and a half hour sessions are open to all members. We will look at the marking assessment boycott, what you need to do, some of the challenges, and the importance of getting everyone involved. You can also find extensive marking assessment boycott information on our FAQ pages.

Please pre-register for a session:

Respect FE: e-ballot closed today

UCU's electronic consultation of members in further education colleges in England closed today (Friday 24 March) at 17:00. The results will be available on Monday and considered by a special further education sector conference (FESC) on Saturday 1 April where decisions will be made about next steps in the Respect FE campaign. Thanks for your participation and to local reps for the great work 'getting the vote out'.

Wales FE pay and conditions update

The Welsh joint trade unions (JTU) in further education met with Colegau Cymru (CC) on the 12 January to discuss pay.  A request was made by the JTU to CC for a formal response to our 2022/2023 pay claim. The Principals met on 14 February 2023 to consider the pay claim from the joint unions. You can click here for further details in English and in Welsh.

Sheffield College: strikes loom as staff reject pay offer

Staff at Sheffield College have overwhelmingly voted in an e-ballot to reject a derisory 3.5% pay offer for 2023/24. Turnout was over 50% and more than 81% of those who voted said they would not accept it. Staff have already taken four days of strike action this year over the college's 2022/23 pay offer of just 2.5% after winning a strike ballot. The union paused strike action to enter into Acas-mediated talks with the employer but were only offered an additional £100 one-off payment.

Birmingham City University: pay dispute update

Birmingham City University (BCU) UCU members, who are historically locked out of national bargaining, have won some significant gains locally. At the start of the pay year in August the branch was offered a 2% increase to be paid for by not awarding any increments for the current academic year. After a long dispute, involving a successful industrial action ballot and Acas negotiations, the branch won a final offer from the employer consolidating a further 2.5% pay increase for the current year (on top of the 2.5% consolidated increase and the non-consolidated amounts already received in December 2022) with a further 3% to follow in August 2023.

Crucially, BCU UCU branch has also won its long-term objective to establish formal collective bargaining machinery in the form of a joint negotiating and consultative committee (JNCC). JNCC will begin to review matters such as pay gaps, workload and casualisation--areas which the employer had not previously considered open for negotiation.

MPs and peers call for prison education to be renationalised

MPs and peers from across the political spectrum have condemned the failed privatisation of prison education and called for the service to be brought back into public ownership to support the rehabilitation of prisoners. Click here for more details on debates in the House of Lords and UCU's response.

UCU LGBT+ research conference 2023

The 2023 UCU LGBT+ research conference will be held as a hybrid event on Friday 19 May at the University of Manchester. This is an open event; delegates do not have to be UCU members. However, if the in-person places are over-subscribed, UCU members will be given priority access. To register please follow the link to the online form.

Migrants' Rights Network survey

The Migrants' Rights Network, Migrants at Work and the Open Rights Group are running a survey on Right to Work checks in the workplace, and in particular, issues around government checking services, third-party apps, or workplace discrimination. The UCU Migrant members' standing committee (MMSC) is supporting this work, and working with the authors to understand how these issues impact workers in tertiary education specifically.

This survey is about migrant rights in the UK, but the survey itself is not just for migrant members. If you are UCU member who has been asked to undertake a Right to Work check at any point as part of your job (for example, external examiners are often asked to take one) we would appreciate you taking this short survey between now and Tuesday 28 March

Ofsted policy and Ruth Perry

Our sincere condolences to the family, friends, staff and students of Ruth Perry. It is a tragedy that it has taken a death for the concerns of the profession to be heard.

Further education colleges are also inspected by Ofsted and our FE members are all too keenly aware of the ways in which Ofsted and 'mock-Ofsted' inspections create a toxic culture of fear and stress among staff. Solidarity with the National Education Union (NEU) as they campaign to #ReplaceOfsted. Click here if you would like to know more about UCU's policy on Ofsted.

UCU's financial information statement

You can read a statement on the union's annual return for the year ended 31 August 2022 here, as required by Section 32A of Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Last updated: 24 March 2023