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The Friday email: 31 March 2023

31 March 2023

Respect FE: members back our campaign

UCU's Respect FE consultation of English further education colleges closed last Friday (24 March) and an amazing 87% of members who voted (51% turnout) said they would back a strike action ballot over pay, conditions and national bargaining. UCU vice-president Maxine Looby said: 'This is a fantastic result and testament to the strength of feeling among college staff that we deserve respect and recognition for the work we do as further education (FE) practitioners'. A special FE sector conference (FESC) meets on Saturday 1 April to make decisions about the next steps so please watch this space for updates. 

This week the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) published a report showing colleges face a staffing crisis because of low pay and high workloads.

UCU Rising: re-ballots closed, formal consultation on employers' proposals, USS update & MAB training

The UCU Rising re-ballots in our pay and conditions and USS pensions disputes closed today (Friday 31 March) at 17:00. We will receive results from Civica Election Services on Monday 3 April. Members, reps, officials, regional offices and HQ have chased every last vote and we are hoping that this has delivered a positive result that will extend our mandate for a further six months. 

Once we have fulfilled our legal obligations to serve notice to employers of the result, we will be announcing them to members via email and also live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. We hope to be in a position to start this announcement at around 15:00. Please make sure to tune in and encourage your colleagues to do the same. 

The Higher Education Committee (HEC) has voted, following the results of this week's Branch Delegate Meeting (BDM) and our informal e-consultation, to put the latest proposals from employers to a formal consultation. UCU Rising members will be receiving a link to vote via email on Tuesday 4 April. Make sure that your voice is heard by having your say. Further details on the consultation and other decisions taken by the HEC yesterday will follow soon. 

The latest update from the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) confirms restoring benefits will cost less than employers and staff are currently paying into the pension scheme. UCU and Universities UK (UUK) have agreed to prioritise reversing the cuts that were made last year. This update allays concerns that recent market volatility would impact the strength of the scheme. 

We are relaunching the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) training which began 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:

Bradford College industrial action ballot

Staff at Bradford College were balloted for industrial action; the ballot opened on Thursday 23 February and ran until Monday 27 March. The dispute centres on a pay award for 2022/23 of only £800, which is worth between just 2.2-2.5% for most UCU members. 90% of members who voted were prepared to take strike action and 97% were prepared to take action short of a strike (ASOS), with a turnout of 58%.

Petition to University of Leeds vice-chancellor and senior management

University of Leeds management decided to make further pay deductions at a rate of 100% for staff who do not deliver teaching missed on strike days i.e. additional deductions far beyond the days for which UCU members were already not paid while participating in strike action. Sign this petition to University of Leeds vice-chancellor and senior management to revoke this punitive action.

Anti-casualisation committee seeking new members

The anti-casualisation committee (ACC) is looking for new members from FE (four places) and HE (one place) to join them for the forthcoming year. ACC advises the union on all things anti-casualisation and meet three times a year (currently on-line). No experience is necessary, but you should be employed on a casualised contract (or most recently employed on such a contract if you are currently out of work). If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact Jane Thompson before Tuesday 18 April.

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.

Last updated: 17 April 2023