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The Friday email: 1 March 2024

1 March 2024

International Women's Day, 8 March

Join UCU in celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) on Friday 8 March. This year's campaign theme is Inspire Inclusion and we have new posters you can now download from our website.

UCU elections 2024

Ballots closed on Friday 1 March at noon. The result of the UCU general secretary election is expected to be available on UCU's website and via email at the end of today. All other election results (vice-president, national executive committee, trustee) are expected to be available by the end of the day on Tuesday 5 March.

England further education pay campaign 2024/25

Briefings are taking place for UCU college reps (England only) to discuss the new strategy proposed by the union's further education committee (FEC) of 'Levelling up the sector'. The briefings will allow branches to come together and discuss the strategy, the issues that are important to members and ask questions. Members of FEC will be at the briefings. Feedback from both briefings will be reported into the FEC, which next meets on Friday 8 March. You should contact your branch committee to find out who is representing your branch and suggest questions your reps should ask at the briefings.

This year we will be asking members to:

  • build the strength of the union: through asking your colleagues to join the union and getting involved in your branch 
  • campaign and get the vote out during a national industrial action ballot to exert leverage to agree national bargaining with the employers.

Click here to read the full update from UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

Higher education: defend jobs and education

Please support the following university branches where UCU members are defending jobs and education:

  • University of Aberdeen: staff will take six days of strike action over job cuts to modern languages. The dates are Tuesday 12 March, Thursday 21 March-Friday 22 March, Monday 25-Wednesday 27 March
  • Aston University: around 60 academics in the college of engineering and physical sciences have been told they are at risk of redundancy due to a proposal to close some chemistry programmes and rearrange many of the departments. As part of the fight against redundancies, Aston UCU has forced the university into extending the consultation period and will continue to campaign to remove all threats of compulsory redundancy
  • Goldsmiths, University of Londonan industrial action ballot has opened on Friday 1 March in a dispute over potential large scale redundancies associated with a so-called 'Transformation programme'. Goldsmiths management are proposing to find huge financial savings in an extremely short time, which UCU believes is disproportionate and misguided, and which will destabilise the institution, increase workloads further, and severely impact student satisfaction and recruitment
  • University of Kent: an industrial action ballot opened on Friday 23 February in a dispute over 58 academic redundancies. UCU are determined to fight this academic vandalism and defend the university; members across the union can show your support by signing this petition
  • Northumbria University: Northumbria UCU members announced that they declared an industrial dispute. University senior management indicated that they would push through huge reductions in staff spending, and failed to rule out compulsory redundancies while insisting that the institution's 'underlying financial position remains very strong'. You can read the full story here including a joint statement by UCU and UNISON
  • Oxford Brookes University: in November 2023 management at Oxford Brookes University declared 48 jobs 'at risk' with 20 needing to be cut. Our campaigning, negotiating and balloting have reduced the number of compulsory redundancies to two. UCU still intend to reduce that number to zero. Please read and share UCU's open letter here and sign our petition to save jobs at Oxford Brookes University
  • SOAS, University of London: an indicative ballot has launched on taking strike action at SOAS over fire and rehire plans that place 34 staff at risk of losing their jobs and being rehired on worse terms and conditions. The cuts would eliminate all term time English-language and study skills support for international students.

Stop the cuts to Coventry Adult Education Service 

Coventry City Council is proposing drastic cuts to services which threaten our members' jobs in adult education as well as opportunities for the people of Coventry. Reductions to central government funding have left the council looking to make savings by proposing to scrap centre creches and cut back on key staff. Please send messages of support to our Coventry Adult and Community Education (ACE) branch who are calling on the council to reverse the proposals.

Prison education annual meeting report

A report of the UCU annual prison education meeting and AGMs is now available here. The meeting took place at UCU head office on Friday 16 February and was open to all members. There were a range of excellent speakers and branch reports; the event was an opportunity to meet colleagues across the prison education sector.

Future of work in post-16 education working group

The Future of work in post-16 education project includes a working group of UCU members to consider the policy and bargaining approach needed to address the increasing use of technology and artificial intelligence in education.

Having reviewed the expressions of interest received by the closing date, Black members, adult community education, prison education and Northern Ireland-based members are under-represented. In order to ensure this working group is properly representative of our union, we are reopening the expressions of interest for the working group and are particularly encouraging members in these under-represented groups to apply.

UCU continuing professional development workshops

Join us next week for the following 90-minute online interactive workshops that are free and open to all UCU members:

And look out for our regular Monday email to members with all the workshops running throughout the term.

Equality research conference

The second UCU equality research conference, entitled 'Nothing without us: pride, diversity, respect and liberation', will be a one-day hybrid conference for academics, researchers and activists conducting research on equality issues, lives and aspirations. It will take place on Friday 17 May (10:30-16:30) in person at the University of Manchester or online via Zoom.

The call for papers is now open with deadline Monday 4 March 2024. Proposals of no more than 500 words are now invited to be submitted online here.

Membership of UCU's anti-casualisation committee

Are you on a casualised contract (or between jobs but most recently on a casualised contract) and want to get more involved in UCU? Following our recent annual meeting we still have places on our anti-casualisation committee (ACC). We have places for members from all sectors and would especially welcome people from further, adult and prison education. You don't need lots of experience; just enthusiasm to help our fight against casualisation. A co-option form and more details are available and the co-option deadline is Friday 8 March.

Sustainable development goals teach-in

The Sustainable development goals (SDG) teach-in calls on all types of educators to pledge to embed the UN Sustainable development goals into their teaching, learning, training, and assessments throughout the month and beyond.

For the seventh year of this campaign, we are encouraging educators to #getstarted and #gofurther through four themed weeks of the teach-in. This is a great way to get involved with meaningful sustainability actions this new year in an accessible and supported way. Pledge to equip your students with the knowledge and competencies to take action!

Ceasefire NOW! and webinar on trade union solidarity

UCU joins with many others in Palestine, the UK, and beyond to reiterate the demands for an immediate ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and the lifting of the siege of Gaza. We have a webpage that collates in one place all of our information, resources and events for UCU members and branches.

Join the webinar on trade union solidarity with Palestinian children and educators on Tuesday 12 March (18:00-19:00). Come and hear Palestinian trade unionists and educators discuss the situation on the ground, including the ongoing 'educide' taking place in Gaza, and how we can extend our solidarity work with Palestine in the UK. Speakers include UCU president Justine Mercer.

Ukraine solidarity

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (USC) is raising money for an appeal by the Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine. Please donate here and share widely. As part of this fund drive, USC is screening the film 20 Days of Mariupol at the Garden Cinema in London on Thursday 7 March.

UCU members have organised another online seminar for Tuesday 12 March (19:00-21:00) with Ukrainian experts. This next event will explore Ukraine's rich history. More information and tickets are available here.

Last updated: 1 March 2024