Fighting fund banner


230509 UCU Respect FE strike Kirklees College 1200px

The Friday email: 12 May 2023

12 May 2023

UCU Rising: members engaged in the MAB are not backing down

UCU members involved in the pay and conditions dispute have this week continued their marking and assessment boycott (MAB). With employers refusing to negotiate and many threatening punitive deductions, UCU has been piling pressure on the employers on every front.

We have secured media coverage on ITV Meridian, BBC regional shows in Yorkshire and Scotland, over 50 radio stations and every major newspaper. 

Pressure is also being applied politically with a letter signed by over 50 MPs and peers sent to UCEA and over 1000 members and supporters sending emails to their MPs using our online tool. Members are encouraged to share this and our tool to email vice chancellors.

The union's escalation strategy continues to yield results, with Queen Margaret University UCU announcing that they have successfully forced management to rescind their threats of 100% deductions.

For members facing 100% deductions, we have ringfenced a new £250,000 fund. To apply just go through the normal process and state clearly in the comments that the deduction was wholly for taking part in the MAB.

Respect FE: still no offer in 2023/24 FE pay talks

The joint further education (FE) trade unions met with the sector employer representatives from the Association of Colleges (AoC) on 11 May for the second England FE 2023/24 pay negotiations. Please read the joint statement on this meeting here.

Industrial action at FE colleges across England

Staff at Bradford College will strike across May and June in their dispute over low pay and working conditions. Click here for the full set of strike dates. The dispute centres on a pay award for 2022/23 of only £1,160, which is worth just 3.2% for many lecturers. GCSEs will be hit but there is still time for the employer to make an improved offer to avert industrial action.

Meanwhile, Kirklees College members will be striking again in June, impacting GCSEs. Their dispute is concerned with an imposed 1% consolidated pay award for 2022/23, and for 2023/24 an imposed 2.5% consolidated pay award in addition to a move in scales.

Staff at Barnet and Southgate College will strike in May and June hitting exams. Staff have already been on strike in the long-running dispute after college bosses imposed pay awards of just 1% for 2021/22 and 1% for 2020/21. The college has now imposed a further pitiful pay award of just 2.5% for 2022/23.

Barnsley College have a statutory ballot for industrial action over a 2% pay offer for 2022/23 which started on Friday 5 May and will close on Monday 12 June.

University of East Anglia strike ballot opens over job cuts

Staff at University of East Anglia (UEA) are threatened by cuts and compulsory redundancies. Since announcing a £30m deficit in January, senior management have shared no clear plans. UEA UCU is now in dispute with the university over their failure to commit to zero compulsory redundancies and failure to provide timely and meaningful information. Their industrial action ballot is now open and runs until Wednesday 31 May.

The UEA UCU branch is working intensely and at pace to inform, involve and support members, and to undertake the process of collective consultation with the employer. UEA UCU is bringing a solidarity motion to UCU Congress later this month and solidarity from sister branches will be hugely appreciated.

Redundancies at University of Brighton

Staff at the University of Brighton voted unanimously to ballot for strike action at an emergency UCU branch meeting last week. The meeting was called after the university announced plans to make up to 97 academic staff and a number of professional services staff redundant.

The university claims it needs to make £17.9m in savings. The cuts would mean a huge reduction in lecturers in subjects including art, media, education, architecture, engineering, humanities and sport science. Yet University of Brighton has spent over £50m on building projects in the last two years.

Worker Protection Bill and workplace sexual harassment

As part of the TUC-led ThisIsNotWorking alliance, UCU has written to Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch MP, urging the government not to abandon essential legislation on workplace sexual harassment. Please write to your MP and tell them to support the Worker Protection Bill, which is in danger of falling, and ensure protections for women from sexual harassment.

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.

Nakba 75 national demonstration, 13 May

On Saturday 13 May the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is leading a national march and rally to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, organised alongside the Palestinian Forum in Britain, CND, Stop the War, Muslim Association of Britain, and Friends of Al Aqsa. The march is supported by ten national trade union partners including UCU.

UCU invite all members to join. Assemble at 12 noon, BBC Portland Place, London W1A, finishing with a rally at Downing Street. Further information can be found on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.

USS and Capita cyber incident

Capita recently reported a cyber incident involving hackers targeting some of its computer servers. While it has been confirmed that USS members' data has not been compromised, USS members' details were held on the Capita servers accessed by the hackers. The information potentially accessed includes: title, initial(s), and name; date of birth; national insurance number; USS member number.

If you are a member of USS pensions, you should have received an email from USS Limited today with this information. If you have further questions, you can contact USS at this email address. For the avoidance of doubt, this cyber incident is related to USS Limited's data, not UCU's data.

Last updated: 12 May 2023