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The Friday email: 15 March 2024

15 March 2024

Northern Ireland FE pay update

After four years in dispute about Northern Ireland FE lecturer pay, terms and conditions, an offer for academic year 2023-24 has been made by the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland. The offer of 5% plus a non-consolidated payment of £1,500 pro rata is conditional upon all industrial action being stood down.

UCU members at all six of Northern Ireland's further education colleges are currently being consulted via an electronic ballot on this offer. The electronic ballot will close on Tuesday 19 March 2024. The elected representatives on UCU's further education committee (FEC) is recommending members reject the offer. Click here for coverage on BBC News Northern Ireland.

Strike ballots at Education Training Collective and New College Durham

Staff at five colleges in Cleveland, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees in the Education Training Collective (ETC) will strike on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 March. A new strike ballot also opened on Wednesday 6 March and will run until Monday 15 April so that UCU members can continue to take industrial action if ETC refuses to settle the dispute.

Over at New College Durham, a strike ballot opened this week in a dispute over low pay. The ballot will close on Monday 15 April and a successful result paves the way for strike action if the employer refuses to make a realistic offer. The ballot comes after staff voted to reject a paltry pay offer of 4% (from August 2023).

England further education pay campaign 2024/25

Following the decisions of the further education committee (FEC) to call an aggregate ballot of all England FE branches starting this June, branches have been discussing what this means for them and how the FEC strategy will work in practice.

Over the past few weeks FE branches have sent in requisition requests to call a special FE sector conference (FESC). We have now received 20 requisitions from branches in the FE sector, and in accordance with UCU rule 16.11, a special further education sector conference will be held (online) on Saturday 13 April 2024.

Higher education: defend jobs and education

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

Current industrial disputes and wins

UCU is determined to resist the waves of job cuts and attacks on working conditions taking place in post-16 education throughout the UK. You can click here for a list of current industrial disputes and find out how you can support them and extend your solidarity, and you can click here for a list of wins that UCU members have achieved over the last two years. Both lists are updated continually so please check back regularly.

UCU continuing professional development workshops

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

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

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!

Better Buses campaign

The Better Buses campaign calls on the government to deliver high quality bus services, safe and accessible for everyone. Due to austerity measures services have been severely degraded across England, with some places having no buses at all. This disproportionally affects women, disabled people, those on low incomes and other minority groups. Please sign and circulate the petition.

Webinar on changes to immigration rules

On Monday 25 March (12:30-13:30) UCU will host a webinar discussion covering recent changes to immigration rules and their impact on members. The session will be chaired by migrant members' standing committee (MMSC) chair Laura Loyola-Hernandez and will feature input from immigration lawyers Bindmans. Registration details will be circulated shortly but in the meantime please submit any questions to Jenny Sherrard by Wednesday 20 March.

Ceasefire NOW!

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.

Long Covid Awareness Day, 15 March

Today marks the first International Long Covid Awareness Day. This annual Long COVID observance hopes to raise awareness and spread accurate information about the condition's impacts. Click here for UCU's Long Covid bargaining guide.

Stop the attacks on academics: Donelan must go

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP recently attacked academics on social media and, having lost the confidence of those working in higher education, must now resign. Sign the petition and call on her to formally apologise and resign her position.

Last updated: 15 March 2024