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220614 Respect FE ballot envelope version 2

The Friday email: 15 September 2023

15 September 2023

Respect FE: vote now and back our college campaign

The Respect FE ballot is off to a flying start with a massive effort underway to 'get the vote out' for action on pay, workload and national bargaining. This is a historic moment for UCU and for the further education sector and your union is fighting for a new deal for college staff with decent pay, manageable workloads and a better way of doing business with employers:

UCU Rising: get ballot ready

This week our general secretary Jo Grady announced that we served notice to your employers for an industrial action ballot in the higher education pay and conditions dispute. 

With ballots beginning to arrive next week, now is the time to make sure that you are ballot ready. Click here for the full ballot timetable and a list of balloting institutions.

Here is a summary of the key dates and events: 

  • Tuesday 19 September (18:30): ballot-eve UCU Live, watch on YouTubeFacebook or Twitter
  • Wednesday 20 September: the day that your postal ballot will start arriving. Make sure that you vote YES as soon as you receive yours
  • Friday 29 September (09:00): replacement ballot request form opens; if you have not received your ballot by this point then you can order a replacement
  • Friday 27 October (12:00 noon): deadline for new higher education members to join UCU and be automatically included in the ballot. Make sure that you have spoken to all of your colleagues who are not yet in the union and get them signed up before this date
  • Sunday 29 October (23:59): replacement ballot request form closes
  • Tuesday 31 October: last safe date to return the ballot by post. Don't leave it until the last minute, make sure that you vote as soon as you receive your ballot
  • Friday 3 November 2023 (17:00): industrial action ballot closes.  

England FE colleges' finances

UCU has analysed what England FE colleges have done with the £700m additional funding they received since 2019/20, and shows that the sector's financial health is improving and there is money available for a fair pay rise.

You can use this additional tool to see how much funding your college is getting (also includes principal pay data).

Strike to hit all further education colleges in Northern Ireland

Staff at all six further education colleges across Northern Ireland will start five days of strike action from Monday 18 September. Plans are in place for the industrial action to continue for the next three months in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions. UCU said it has been forced to take action after a decade of their members being subject to pay freeze, followed by pay restraint, which has seen lecturer pay awards limited to between 1% and 2% per year. 

Stop staff cuts at the University of the Highlands and Islands

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) UCU members are currently fighting £3m cuts to the staffing budget and compulsory redundancies. The branch is asking members to sign their open letter to the university principal and management. The letter has had a great response so far, but the more people who sign the louder the message to management to rethink their massive cuts, rule out compulsory redundancies and stop damaging higher education in the highlands and islands.

Strike at Kirklees College in pay dispute

Staff at Kirklees College were on strike this week on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 September, and will strike for another two days on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 September, in their dispute over low pay. The strikes will hit the first teaching week of the new academic year. Staff at Kirklees have already taken six days of strike action across May and June but management has refused to move from a pay award for 2022/23 of just 1% plus a £500 non-consolidated lump sum. College management also unilaterally imposed a 'cost of living' pay award of just 2.5% for 2023/24 during pay talks for 2022/23.

Online training for the workload campaign

For more information on the workload campaign and the role of the workload rep please contact Alex Lancaster.

Annual equality groups conference 2023

This conference is an opportunity to discuss and agree strategies to progress UCU's equality work for Black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members. The conference will be held from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 November, in person in Manchester with the option to join plenary sessions online. You can find more information and register here by Tuesday 17 October.

Sudan Solidarity conference

Along with a host of organisations, UCU is supporting a Sudan Solidarity Conference 2023 on Saturday 30 September. Speakers include UCU president Dr Justine Mercer. Please click here for further information.

In memory of Steve Boyce

We regret to announce that our UCU colleague Steve Boyce passed away in Germany in June. This is such sad news for his family, loved ones and the trade union movement. Steve was a dedicated trade unionist and activist who tirelessly worked for the benefit of others. He did this with great skill, competency and dedication but also with a great style, warm friendship and humour that we will sorely miss.

The Eastern and Home Counties regional committee are collecting tributes and/or photos of Steve for a tribute page on their website where you can also read about Steve's contribution to UCU. If you have any memories of Steve you would like to share please email the secretary Nadia Felgate. 

Last updated: 18 October 2023