Boycott Liverpool

Boycott Leicester

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Support striking colleagues: donate to the UCU fighting fund

Colleagues who can afford to do so are asked to consider a donation to the UCU fighting fund. Donations to the fund are spent on supporting members involved in important disputes. As always, members are asked to only contribute whatever their circumstances allow. Any amount will be gratefully received by members taking action.

Current disputes


! University of Leicester: defending livelihoods and academic freedom

Support the boycott of the University of Leicester

The long-running dispute over redundancies at the University of Leicester stepped up significantly after UCU members began industrial action short of a strike on Tuesday 4 May. As well as working to contract, declining to volunteer for additional tasks (including an 'ideas strike'), refusing to engage in meetings over 50 minutes duration, and refusing to use online systems on a Friday, the action also includes a marking and assessment boycott.

The employer responded with confusing and threatening emails and on May served notices of compulsory redundancy on 26 members of staff.

UCU has therefore announced a global academic boycott of the University of Leicester, a rare and serious sanction. UCU is asking its members, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support colleagues at Leicester by disengaging from the University. Leicester UCU is also asking all UCU members to contact anyone they know at the university - particularly heads of school/department, who sit on university senate - to ask them what they are doing to support ASOS and to defend the institution's academic integrity.

As the branch has seen no meaningful engagement from the university they were forced to move to full strike action, with walkouts taking place on 9, 10 & 11 June


! University of Liverpool: striking for jobs and vital Covid-19 research

Support the boycott of the University of Liverpool

Staff at the University of Liverpool are set to walk out for five consecutive days from Monday 4 October unless management halts plans to sack two staff. The week-long strike will cause severe disruption to the first full week of teaching at the university.UCU members who voted backed strike action to fight the university's plans to slash 47 teaching and research jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences This has now fallen to two compulsory redundancies after six months of industrial action, including 24 days of strikes by staff.

Management has now begun the process of sacking remaining staff threatened with dismissal and has told UCU that they believe that dispute resolution is 'effectively ended' . The union is calling on the university to get round the negotiating table to avoid disruption to the first week of term.


Aston University UCU fighting department closure

The branch launched a petition against the closure of the department of history, languages and translation at Aston University after members voted unanimously to resist the department's closure at a branch meeting.

Aston University told staff that at least 24 jobs were at risk of redundancy due to its plans to close the department. Closure would mean over 12 undergraduate courses being cut, including BScs in international business & modern languages, history & politics, and history & English literature. Around 220 students currently study within the department. The university wants to close the department to new students from September 2022, with all courses set to finish by 2026.

Although the branch has had some success in considerably reducing the number of jobs at risk in the history and translation studies departments, talks are still ongoing about the threat to staff in modern languages:

University of Dundee - local pension scheme closure

The University of Dundee proposes to close its local pension scheme, a defined benefit scheme, which is currently the pension scheme for the majority of support staff at the university. The employer plans to move its support staff to an inferior defined contribution scheme, where pension benefits will be significantly lower. Unison estimates staff will lose out on thousands of pounds worth of pension benefits in retirement. UCU has a handful of members in the local pension scheme, is in dispute and now has a ballot mandate for the small group of members affected to take industrial action. Unison has a ballot mandate for its members, and Unite is embarking upon a statutory ballot too. Any messages of support and solidarity can be sent to ducu@dundee.ac.uk.

Birmingham City University: health and safety concerns

BCU UCU have been in dispute over failure to agree on on-site learning under Covid-19, and this January won their industrial ballot to take action. The employer scheduled several open days to take place on campus which members have real concerns about being required to attend. The employer announced a three-week extension of the deadline for submitting end-of-year assessments but has not similarly extended the marking deadlines for staff.

The action short of a strike which began on 8 June continues. This consists of: refusing to attend on-site and instead moving online all non-essential activity that can be carried out online, including open days; and working to contractual hours only.

Capital City College: campaign to defend jobs, pay and conditions

Members at Capital City College Group (CCCG) are in dispute over the failure of CCCG management to meet the UCU pay and other issues 2020/21 claim in full. The claim seeks a 3.5% pay rise; the harmonisation of London weighting; a workload agreement; an agreement on an inclusive teaching and learning policy; the avoidance of compulsory redundancies and no cuts in remission hours of lead tutors. CCCG management has notified two ongoing restructures across the group affecting more than 60 staff and cutting at least 30 posts. An industrial action ballot closed on 14 July alongside the other FE branches balloting as part of the #RebuildFE campaign. Members at CCCG voted overwhelmingly for strike action with a 95.9% YES vote on a 65% turnout.

Cardiff University: no unsafe return

Cardiff UCU have declared a dispute over the university's failure to provide a commitment that members will not be compelled into face to face work on campus. The branch are currently planning a ballot to determine if members are willing to take strike action in furtherance of the dispute.

Falmouth University new staff pensions

UCU members at Falmouth University have voted overwhelmingly in support of potential industrial action to protect the pensions of newly employed academic staff. UCU has raised concerns about moves to employ new staff under a subsidiary private company, and remove access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS), a contractual right that all other academic-related members in post-92 universities have access to.

Management at the university have so far refused to engage in their own disputes procedure and imposed the TPS removal with almost immediate effect. As of 1 September, newly hired staff, who also face precarious contracts and unaffordable house prices in the region, have had their pensions entitlement slashed by half.

University of Exeter performance rights

UCU at the University of Exeter has gone into dispute over a new digital learning resources policy submitted to the university's senate and which is trying to licence their performance rights for five years. The branch also argues it doesn't comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and is not fit for purpose. At a recent meeting members reported concerns over the policy proposals in their current form, and whether they were even legal. The branch overwhelmingly passed a motion which declared the  dispute necessary to improve the policy to protect members interests.

Goldsmiths, University of London financial woes

Management at Goldsmiths have presented the unions with proposals for a number of redundancies among professional services staff, with formal consultation beginning on 27th September. It is anticipated that a further set of proposals relating to academic staff will be received at around that time. UCU negotiators have laid out terms of a failure to agree making clear to management that the union will oppose compulsory redundancies, and requiring management to consult in good faith with a view to avoiding them. 

The branch is consulting members on their readiness to support industrial action in opposition to any compulsory redundancies, but it is clear that members are angry.

Havant & South Downs College dispute

UCU members at HSDC, along with colleagues in NEU, have entered a trade dispute with the college.  HSDC is in a financial crisis due to failure of management and governance by the college. UCU members recognise that due to FE commissioner intervention, HSDC is obligated to resolve its finances. However our members are dealing with the consequences of the failures through redundancies and pay cuts. UCU members have been outraged that the principal has accepted a £10k pay rise (including bonus), whereas HSDC has reneged on a pay agreement with UCU, with an promised 1.5% increase still outstanding. Negotiations have now begun between UCU and NEU and management about the crisis.

University of Hull: job cuts and sacking of branch president

Members at University of Hull are being consulted over potential industrial action on two issues: proposed redundancies in languages and the sacking of our branch president Keith Butler. Industrial action ballot opened 18 June and closes on Friday 9 July 2021. 

University of Kent: redundancies

Members have voted for industrial action (54.4% turnout) over management refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies. UCU is now in talks with the employer with a view to resolving the dispute. However we are prepared to take strong action should we need to.

University of Leeds: job cuts

Please sign the petition to stop proposed job cuts in medicine and biological sciences at Leeds. The university refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies, reports an operating surplus of £38 million and has failed to provide any financial rationale for the cuts.

Northern Ireland further education

The employers have advised all six of Northern Ireland's further education college branches that the most they could offer for a pay increase is 7% over four years without additional funding from government. The school teacher pay award has recently been published, taking their pay increase from 2013/14 to the present to 11.25%. By contrast FE lecturers have received 3.8% over the same period. Members took a day of strike action at all six colleges and this is now followed by a campaign of 'action short of strike' involving working to contract and refusing additional duties.

    Updated University of Portsmouth: redundancies

    Portsmouth UCU is in a dispute with University of Portsmouth about redundancies in the department of English literature. Portsmouth UCU is determined to seek justice for members in the department and to ensure that the treatment endured by our members does not happen to other UCU members elsewhere at the University of Portsmouth. Portsmouth UCU branch officers are in negotiations with the university to resolve the dispute, and this has included meeting with the vice-chancellor. Talks with the university are continuing, and Portsmouth UCU branch hopes to be able to reach an agreement with the university. Portsmouth UCU will report back to members in September:

    Royal College of Art: members vote for action on precarious contracts.

    Mounting frustration of members at the RCA has culminated in a resounding call for action to end insecurity and unacceptable terms and conditions at the college.  Ill-conceived plans to change all MAs from 2 years to a 12 month rolling programme and scrap enhanced statutory redundancy procedures for academics are also being resisted.  Members have now overwhelmingly voted for strike action in an industrial action ballot with 82.8% for strike action and 93.1% for action short of a strike on an excellent turnout of 63%. The RCA have now been served with formal notice of 14 days of strike action in October and November.

    University of Sheffield: archaeology closure

    The University Executive Board at the University of Sheffield has recommended that the Department of Archaeology be closed, despite an international outcry over the prospect that has been covered by the BBC, the Guardian and many local news organisations. Staff and students at Sheffield held a rally in support of the department on  25 May and have been in touch with local politicians and heritage partners.

    Sheffield UCU and the other campus unions are determined to resist the closure plans, which would affect academic, technical and professional services staff in the department.

    On 15 July a meeting of over 200 members voted to ballot for sustained industrial action during the autumn semester if the university does not reverse its decision to close the archaeology department.

    To support the campaign against closure:

    Staffordshire University: new subsidiary company plans

    Staffordshire University are planning to recruit all new academic staff into a subsidiary company rather than in the main university with effect from 1 August 2021. This will mean that these staff will no longer have access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme.
     
    The branch are concerned that this will have an adverse impact on the ability of the university to recruit and retain highly-qualified and experienced staff, who will go instead to institutions that offer better pension provision. Over time this will impact on the viability of the university as quality is likely to be a casualty of the proposal.
     
    They are also concerned that academic staff employed by the subsidiary company may not be eligible to be entered into the Research Excellence Framework as they will not be university employees. They may also not count towards the staff/student ratio metric.
     
    These concerns with management who say that financially something needs to be done to avoid even more drastic measures.
     
    Staff are naturally alarmed at this attack on their pensions and the branch will be issuing a formal failure to agree notice.

    University of Sussex compulsory redundancy refusal

    The University Executive Group at the University of Sussex has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of a widely criticised Size and Shape programme. The branch has now declared a dispute and will shortly be moving to an indicative ballot:

    University College Birmingham: shock as 73 at risk of redundancy

    University College Birmingham have recently put 73 senior lecturer roles at risk of redundancy and asked to re-apply for 42 new senior lecturer roles. Many of these lecturers have served the students at the university for well over twenty years. All lecturer job descriptions have been changed to reflect a huge increase in workload. The proposals also see non-negotiated changes to the pay and grading structure. No collective consultation has taken place with UCU to date  which is a clear breach of its legal obligations. The university are offering a severance package that is less than the contractual notice entitlement of members and is using Acas to conclude termination of employment agreements with members, denying members the opportunity of one-to-one independent legal advice. This saves the university having to pay for said advice. UCB plans to bridge the shortfall in staff by using more Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and lecturers at the bottom of the pay spine.

    This will have a detrimental effect on all staff as well as the student experience. UCU vigorously opposes both the need to make job cuts and the process being used to effect this:

    University for the Creative Arts: campus closure

    The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is planning to close one of its four campuses and scrap its FE provision with the anticipated loss of around 150 jobs. The university says it wants to create 'centres of excellence' which will involve closing the Rochester campus and moving courses to Epsom.

    UCA claims £18 million pounds of repairs are needed at the Rochester campus but staff believe there has been chronic underinvestment in the estate for many years while shiny new buildings have gone up on the Farnham and Epsom campuses. UCU argues that, even if the existing Rochester site is unsustainable, UCA has an obligation to the community, which has one of the lowest rates of take-up of post-16 education anywhere in the country, and should investigate a new site in the Medway towns.

    Warwickshire College Group: campus closure

    Warwickshire College Group (WCG) has announced plans to close the Malvern campus completely by August, while cutting provision at Evesham College by two-thirds, and moving supported learning and access to HE courses to another site seven miles away. UCU has previously condemned WCG's failure to properly consult with students, staff, or the local community, and argued that management has overseen a process of 'managed decline' since 2016.  

    UCU held a public meeting on 4 May as part of its campaign, followed by protests in July, and has now written to the college's chief executive officer accusing WCG of failing to consult properly and ignoring the views of the local community:

    University of East London workload dispute

    UEL is in dispute with management over the imposition of a new workload allocation model.  UEL UCU believe that it will increase workloads by around 40% and that it breaches the contract of employment in a number of significant respects.


    Winning!

    Royal Holloway, University of London

    The senior management team (SMT) at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) recently proposed changes to academic staffing levels as part of a so-called 'academic realignment exercise', which was presented as an element of the college's three-year strategic plan. A number of academics were identified as having their jobs at risk. The branch were successful in getting the college to confirm there were no plans for organisational change and that they would abide by the current policies. The college may still suggest wording for a change to the redundancy policy but this was a successful push-back by UCU members. 

    City College Plymouth win new deal staff

    After two months of hard negotiation and excellent member engagement, newly-elected branch officers at City College Plymouth beat the anti-trade union law turnout threshold to win local deals for members. Members have voted to settle for a pay deal which includes backdated rises of 2.5% for the lowest paid and 1.5% for others. The deal also includes more leave, agreements on workload, flexible working, increased lecturer autonomy and moves to tackle inequalities. Congratulations are due to all involved especially our members at City College Plymouth and their excellent new branch committee.

    University of Chester job cuts

    Negotiations continue with the university regarding the final four people left on the list of 86 as notified on the section 188 notice in February 2021. No compulsory redundancy notices have been issued and we expect that the remaining four will be redeployed or allowed to leave under a voluntary severance package. In which case the dispute will have been successfully resolved.

    Novus prison education: Covid-19 safety dispute

    Following an extended period of industrial action,  a sertis of strikes planned for August 2021 were suspended after agreement was reached at Acas.

    Bangor UCU avoids compulsory redundancies

    Bangor UCU has ended a protracted and difficult restructuring that lasted nine months, and managed to close the consultation without any compulsory redundancies. The branch also got some important concessions out of the university on their future working relationship.

    New City College: restructuring redundancies & redeployments

    Members at New City College have been in dispute since May 2021 over a restructure of supported learning following the failure of the college to rule out compulsory redundancies and detrimental changes to pay and contracts. UCU ran a consultative e-ballot of members with 95% voting YES for strike action on a 60% turnout. Following collective organising to resist compulsory redundancies, and after many hours of negotiations, the employer has confirmed that there will be zero compulsory redundancies. UCU remains opposed to some aspects of the restructure and will continue to campaign for a better deal for supported learning staff and students.

    Northumbria University: safe work win

    Congratulations to Northumbria University branch of UCU who have used their successful industrial action ballot as the leverage to secure an agreement with management that anyone who is uncomfortable with returning to the campus can continue to work remotely.

    United Colleges Group: call for respect

    Members at both UCG colleges - the City of Westminster College and the College of North West London - are fighting against imposed changes to contractual terms and conditions, cuts to tutor remission, and the management decision to tear up the agreed 2018 post-merger harmonised contract (unilaterally reverting staff to pre harmonised contracts). UCU members voted overwhelmingly for strike action over changes to agreed contracts imposed by management that will see workloads increase. 99% of UCU members who voted said they were prepared to take strike action. 100% of members who voted said they were prepared to take action short of strike.

    Following intensive negotiations between UCU negotiators and UCG management, UCU members have approved - in principle - a revised harmonised contract, incorporating CPD remission for all teaching staff and additional remission for tutorials. Industrial action is suspended pending the finalisation of the harmonised contract and a collective agreement. This outcome would not have been possible without the staunch support of UCU members and the support and solidarity from across UCU.

    Last updated: 24 September 2021