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The Friday email: 28 April 2023

28 April 2023

Respect FE: sector conference decision, strikes at Darlington College

The special further education sector conference (FESC) convened on Saturday 1 April to make decisions on the Respect FE campaign for this year and you can read the outcomes here. Delegates at FESC decided that UCU will not be moving to a national aggregated ballot at this time, but will commit national resources to ensure this year that we organise more FE branches in England to be part of a nationally coordinated Respect FE campaign on pay, workload, national bargaining and a just transition on climate. Look out for more details and how you can get involved.

Staff at Darlington College will strike on Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 May after rejecting a 3% pay offer for 2022/23. Darlington staff have already been on strike for three days so far this academic year after management imposed a pay award of just 1% for 2021/22. UCU is also re-balloting members so it can call further action.

Wales FE pay negotiation update

UCU members in FE colleges in Wales are currently being e-balloted over the pay offer from ColegauCymru. If you are a ballot eligible member working in a FE college in Wales, please look out for an English-Welsh bilingual email from UCU Cymru, containing your unique link to vote, with the subject 'USE YOUR VOTE: FE pay update / DEFNYDDIWCH EICH PLEIDLAIS: Diweddariad ar Gyflog Addysg Bellach'. The electronic consultative ballot will close on Thursday 4 May at 17:30.

UCU Rising: HEC decisions and marking and assessment boycott

Today the union's higher education committee (HEC) met and set out a further programme of action to maximise pressure on Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to make an improved offer in the pay and working conditions dispute, and to support members facing punitive pay deductions--up to 100% in some cases--for taking part in the marking and assessment boycott (MAB). 

Your higher education committee (HEC) decided today:

  • to continue action, including industrial action if necessary, to support members facing punitive pay deductions
  • to increase the resources and support available for members engaged in the MAB. 

UCU calls on all members in higher education institutions which are part of the pay and working conditions dispute to cease undertaking all summative marking and assessment activities including exam invigilation and the processing of marks. For all the information you need regarding the MAB, please visit this dedicated page. To support your colleagues:

Pay rises of up to 12% for University of Chichester bosses

This week UCU condemned University of Chichester vice-chancellor Jane Longmore for refusing to raise staff pay by more than a paltry 1%. The refusal comes as the university's latest accounts show that the salary of the second highest paid member of staff rose by at least £15k, an increase of 12%, between 2021 and 2022. The accounts also show that Professor Longmore's basic pay jumped by more than 6% to £185k, and the total remuneration of senior staff (all key management personnel) went up by 8%. The average salary at Chichester is just £24k.

Education Select Committee report on reform of post-16 education

UCU today welcomed calls from MPs to rethink plans to both cut funding for BTECs and rush ahead with the rollout of T-levels. In a report published by the Education Select Committee, MPs have condemned plans to withdraw funding for BTECs and raised concerns about the feasibility of scaling up T-levels and restrictions on student choice.

Open meeting for ARPS staff, 4 May

Join fellow academic-related professional services (ARPS) staff for solidarity and solace at UCU's next ARPS open meeting on Thursday 4 May, 13:00 on Zoom. You can register here.

Whether you are directly involved in the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in the HE pay and working conditions dispute, or not able to join, but are considering how to organise and show solidarity, come and share your experiences, raise issues for discussion, hear how others are dealing with current challenges and what lessons were learned from the MAB last summer.

MRC units open meeting, 11 May

Staff side unions are organising an open meeting for staff working in Medical Research Council (MRC) units who have been impacted by the recent decision to change their funding methodology. Members have expressed their concern at MRC's failure to consult with those affected and adhere to established trade union consultation processes.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 11 May 13:00-14:00 on Zoom. Union members and non-members are welcome and can register for the meeting here. We want to use the meeting to bring affected staff together, agree ways to challenge the failure to consult, and re-establish processes for meaningful consultation.

UCU LGBT+ research conference, 19 May

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 (deadline Friday 5 May 2023).

Cradle to Grave conference, 17 June

We are delighted to announce that the rescheduled Cradle to Grave conference 'A vision for education: the way forward for the post-16 education sector', will take place on Saturday 17 June, 10:30-15:30. Come along to our online conference and meet fellow practitioners, policymakers, and politicians as we discuss a shared vision for post-16 education in these challenging times. Click here for the programme and registration (registration open until Wednesday 14 June).

International Workers' Memorial Day

On Friday 28 April, International Workers' Memorial Day (IWMD), we remember all those who have died because of their work and continue to fight against work-related stress and unrelenting workloads. For more information, please visit UCU's IWMD 2023 webpage and TUC's dedicated site.

Last updated: 28 April 2023