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Cradle to Grave 2023

The Friday email: 2 June 2023

2 June 2023

UCU Congress and sector conferences

The union's supreme policy-making body is its annual Congress, which took place in Glasgow from Saturday 27 to Monday 29 May. Congress included separate annual meetings of UCU's further and higher education sector conferences, where policies particular to those areas are decided. You can find the full results of voting on motions here.

You may personally disagree with some of the motions passed at Congress. This happens in any democratic organisation. To ensure that your voice is heard, get involved in your local branch, stand as a delegate for the next Congress and/or sector conferences, and use your vote in our elections.

UCU Rising: not backing down

UCU members in higher education are not backing down in their fight for fair pay and conditions. The marking and assessment boycott (MAB) continues, with branches applying pressure through every avenue. 

We continue to highlight our fight in the national press, with coverage this week calling attention to how employers' attempts to undermine the MAB are damaging degree integrity. We have been covered by GMB, STV, ITV News, BBC Scotland, BBC R4 Today, R4, R2, BBC regional radio, LBC Mail, Telegraph, Morning Star, Times, Observer and regional papers across the country.

The cracks are growing among employers with management at Queen's University Belfast joining Cambridge in calling on UCEA to return to negotiations. To hear from reps at Cambridge on how they achieved this, and from reps at Queen Margaret on how they faced down threats of 100% deductions, please listen to our podcast on 'How to Win the MAB' on Spotify and YouTube

Our escalation strategy for branches facing punitive deductions is working, with several branches escalating to strike action. Over 1,800 staff at the University of Leeds will begin indefinite strike action from Thursday 15 June. UCU members at Sheffield Hallam University continue their strike action on Wednesday and Thursday with picket lines at Collegiate Cres, Broomhall, Sheffield S10 2BP and City Campus, Howard Street, S1 1WB. Strikes also continue at Winchester University and SOAS, with action called at Liverpool John Moores University on Friday 16 June.

The guidance on access to the fighting fund for those facing deductions has been updated, in particular for those facing deductions of between 50% and 100% of wages. You can find the updated guidance here. 

Redundancies at University of Brighton

Staff at the University of Brighton are currently balloting for strike action. University management announced plans to sack over a hundred members of staff.

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.

Join the march and rally on Saturday 10 June at 11:00 at the Level in Brighton and please bring your local banners.

You can donate to the branch's fundraiser here.

Respect FE: strike action continues; new campaign launching

UCU members in further education are striking for fair pay and working conditions in colleges:

Meanwhile, City College Norwich, Barnsley College and North Kent College are being balloted for industrial action.

The union has now agreed plans to build our Respect FE campaign (England) over the summer in support of the joint FE unions' claim for 2023/24 and to prepare for nationally coordinated local ballots for action in the autumn. Look out for our online campaign launch event coming soon.

USS pensions: Capita cyber incident

USS members would have received emails from USS Limited over the last couple of weeks about the Capita data breach, which has seen USS member data accessed and possibly copied. UCU USS negotiators and officials have continued to press USS Limited to provide the appropriate and ongoing support to members affected by this hack. As an initial offer, USS are providing access to a monitoring and identity theft prevention service via Experian Identity Plus membership for one year. If you have any questions about the data breach or about the support offered, you should contact USS Limited directly. You might also find it helpful to look at their Q&As

UCU is currently undertaking work on this matter including seeking further advice and will be providing information to members shortly.

Training opportunities for reps

'Workload rep training 2: workload campaign in action, inspections and investigation' is an online course which will take place on Friday 9 June, 09:30-13:00.

It is open to all UCU activists and reps who want to build upon their knowledge of workload as a health and safety hazard in the workplace. Please click here to register for the course.

In addition there are two courses in South West England that still have places:

Please visit UCU's training page for a suite of programmes and courses happening in your devolved nation and region.

House of Commons Education Committee Report on post-16 qualifications

In April, the House of Commons Education Committee published a damning report into the government's agenda for the future of post-16 qualifications. UCU made submissions which were included in the report. The report expresses a particular concern about T Levels and also urges the government to undertake a review of 16-19 education funding, including offering more targeted support for disadvantaged students.

George Floyd memorial event, 8 June

A George Floyd memorial event will take place online (Zoom) [link distributed via email to UCU members] on Thursday 8 June, 18:30-20:00. What has changed since the death of George Floyd? Institutional racism in the police is alive and kicking. Time for abolition? An esteemed panel of guests join us to discuss the proposal.

Cradle to Grave conference, 17 June

Have you registered for the Cradle to Grave conference? Our online conference 'A vision for education: the way forward for the post-16 education sector', will take place on Saturday 17 June 2023. We will discuss a shared vision for post-16 education in these challenging times. Keynote speaker: John McDonnell MP.

Last updated: 5 June 2023