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Rally for Respect

The Friday email: 10 November 2023

10 November 2023

Respect FE strikes: rally on Tuesday 14 November

As we prepare for the biggest wave of strike action to hit further education (FE) in years, you are invited to join striking college staff and supporters for a mass rally next week in the centre of London, right next to Parliament. Full details can be found on our event webpage here: Tuesday 14 November, 12 noon-14:00 at Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW. The rally coincides with the first of three days of strike action (14, 15 and 16 November) in participating FE colleges and will bring us together in solidarity to demand a new settlement for FE.

For too long employers and politicians have neglected FE and allowed pay to fall well behind teaching roles in schools; meanwhile workloads have become unmanageable and the system of negotiating with employers fails to deliver the improvements our FE members need. You can:

UCU Rising: next steps in the campaign

On Monday 6 November, the union announced the results for the higher education pay and working conditions dispute industrial action ballot. Unfortunately the ballot did not reach the anti-trade union turnout threshold, despite thousands of members voting for action. In terms of immediate next steps, the elected representatives on UCU's higher education committee (HEC) at its meeting in October made these decisions:

  • to conduct a consultation of members on industrial strategy
  • to begin to develop a longer term campaign strategy
  • to meet again in December following a branch delegate meeting (BDM).

With regards where we are with these outcomes, we are already halfway through a consultation of higher education members in the dispute. If you have not yet completed the consultation, please find an email entitled 'have your say in the UCU Rising strategy consultation' (check your spam/junk folder in case the email has ended up there). The email contains your unique link to take part in the consultation, which closes on Monday 20 November at 12 noon.

Call for resignations from UKRI positions

UCU is calling on all UCU members that have voluntary positions with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to resign.

This followed our letter to UKRI calling on it to reverse its decision to suspend its advisory board on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) by the end of Friday 3 November, which UKRI refused to do. UCU conveyed its anger and disappointment at UKRI's capitulation to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Skills Michelle Donelan's interventions. The letter also criticises the Secretary of State for seriously misrepresenting the views expressed by two members of the advisory board in a transparently political attack. 

This week UCU has launched a union-wide campaign to expose the current Conservative government's attack on workers in further and higher education. On Wednesday UCU hosted a UCU Live featuring Daniel Kebede (NEU general secretary), Priyamvada Gopal (Professor of Postcolonial Studies at University of Cambridge) and Owen Jones (journalist and columnist for The Guardian). You can view a recording of the UCU Live event here.

Staff to strike at five North East further education colleges over low pay

Staff at Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Redcar and Cleveland College--all of which are part of employer group Education Training Collective (ETC)--began strike action as part of an ongoing dispute over low pay. The strike dates for this coming week are Monday 13 November and Tuesday 14 November.

USS members: respond to the statutory consultation

Recently the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) joint negotiating committee voted to restore member benefits to pre-2022 levels, augment losses suffered during 2022-2024, and reduce contribution rates in line with decisions taken by UCU members. USS has now contacted all scheme members to inform them of these decisions. 

The UCU superannuation working group (SWG) produced this video to help you understand the developments; SWG also created this tool to calculate the impact on your improved USS retirement income. If you have any questions about this video and tool, please contact the SWG or email the UCU pensions mailbox.

As these changes need USS rules to be amended, we will be working with Universities UK (UUK) and USS on these amendments over the coming weeks to ensure changes to contribution rates are delivered for 1 January 2024 and the new member benefits and recovery payment is in place for 1 April 2024. 

The statutory consultation on USS is open until 24 November 2023 and we encourage all members to provide a response to this. There is UCU guidance on responding to the consultation here.

COP28: a trade union issue

The 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly referred to as COP28, is taking place in the United Arab Emirates  (UAE) in November 2023. UCU will be sharing regular updates in the build-up and during COP28 with resources and information to take action at branch through to national and international level. UCU green reps agreed on a theme of 'adaptation', to focus on the need for urgent action by our education institutions to adapt to the increasing effects of the climate and ecological crises. Click here to read more on UCU and COP28.

Sign the petition in support of the pension triple lock

Please sign this petition, launched by the trade union Prospect, in support of the pension triple lock. This increases state pension by the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%. Headline wage growth was 8.5% in May to July 2023, but there is speculation that the Conservative government may use a lower figure. The full increase should apply. Please share with any relevant networks.

Trans awareness week webinar

Trans and non-binary awareness: experiences and issues. Click here to register for this UCU LGBT+ webinar where we look at raising awareness of experiences and issues for Trans and non-binary people. The webinar will take place on Tuesday 14 November, 16:00-17:30.

Guidance on the rights of migrants involved in protests

We recognise that participation in protests can present additional risks and anxieties for migrant members, due to the government's hostile environment and the authoritarian crackdowns on protest. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Migrants (JCWI) has produced some useful guidance on the rights of migrants involved in protests which can be found here.

Last updated: 10 November 2023