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10 July 2021

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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

Winning


Aston University UCU fighting department closure

Aston University UCU 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 BSc degrees in international business and modern languages, history and politics, and history and 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.

The branch was successful in persuading the university in considerably reducing the number of jobs at risk. Talks are still ongoing as of January 2022.

Updated Barnet and Southgate College: local 2021/22 pay and workload claim

At Barnet and Southgate College in London, there is overwhelming support for strike action over the local 2021/22 pay and workload claim. Following months of negotiations with the employer, there has been no meaningful movement on the part of the employer in terms of pay and workload. The employer has only committed to paying a pitiful 1% at some point this year and has not offered any substantial improvements in reducing staff workloads.

Barnet and Southgate UCU members were asked whether they would accept or reject the employer offer, and if they were prepared to take strike action in support of the claim. On a strong turnout of 71%, 90% members voted to reject the offer and 93% voted YES for strike action. The UCU branches at the college are now preparing to move towards a formal dispute and industrial action ballot.

Update, 17 June 2022: Industrial action ballots also opened at Barnet and Southgate College (closing on Friday 15 July).

    Updated University of Dundee: local pension scheme closure

    The University of Dundee proposed to close its local pension scheme (defined benefit), which is currently the pension scheme for the majority of Dundee's support staff. The employer was planning to move its support staff to an inferior defined contribution scheme.

    Affected UCU members at the University of Dundee took five days of industrial action with Unison in the first wave of strikes: 29 and 30 September 2021;  1, 4, 5 October 2021.  Unite delivered its ballot mandate in mid-October, and so all three unions (Unite, Unison, and UCU) took further action at the end of October. UCU members participated in strikes on 25 and 26 October 2021, and also instigated a work to contract from 29 September 2021. Following protracted discussions with the employer, a proposal has been agreed which sets out a way forward to move on from this dispute.

    Key terms:

    • employer removes the defined contribution pension proposals from the table
    • employer and unions engage in focused discussions on defined benefit pension scheme alternatives, with a view to presenting proposals/update to the university governing body at its meeting in February 2022.

    Members of all three unions are comfortable with this approach, and so strikes have been called off to enable the focused talks on a new DB scheme to take place.

    Update, 13 June 2022: The dispute over the closure of the University of Dundee's local pension scheme (defined benefit) continues. Affected UCU members at the University of Dundee took five days of industrial action with Unison in the first wave of strikes: 29 and 30 September 2021;  1, 4, 5 October 2021. Unite delivered its ballot mandate in mid-October, and so all three unions (Unite, Unison, and UCU) took further action at the end of October 2021. UCU members participated in strikes on 25 and 26 October 2021, and also instigated a work to contract from 29 September 2021. Following protracted discussions with the employer, an agreement to move forward with more negotiations was reached in autumn 2021. Regrettably these negotiations did not result in any acceptable new proposals from the employer, and all three unions remain in dispute, with Unison taking further strike action in spring 2022, and Unite re-balloting to maintain its ballot mandate.

    New University of Dundee: threatened job cuts

    Up to 30 jobs are under threat at University of Dundee as the employer proposes to merge three schools into one new combined school of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law.  Up to 20 academic roles and 10 academic-related professional services (ARPS) staff roles are at risk.  A voluntary severance scheme has been opened and UCU is participating in weekly collective consultation meetings.  UCU is clear that we must avoid any compulsory redundancies and is campaigning to protect education at the institution.

    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 does not 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.

    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.

    Furness College: industrial action over pay

    UCU members at Furness College in Cumbria have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over a failure from college management to agree a pay rise for 2021/22. 92.5% of voters backed strike action on a 59% turnout. 

    Update, May 2022: Furness College UCU members will be on strike on Wednesday 18 May at the beginning of their campaign to receive a decent pay award, having rejected a management offer of 1%. Furness UCU branch secretary Amanda Rotherham said, 'The support that we had on the picket line was great--and the sun came out for us! Pay is a crucial issue for our members at this moment in time. We know that we deserve more - and that' what we are fighting for'. You can send messages of support via here and read further updates here from UCU's regional officials.

    Goldsmiths, University of London redundancies and global academic boycott

    Please show your support for Goldsmiths UCU's campaign to prevent 46 staff being made redundant as part of management's fire-and-rehire 'restructure'. Goldsmiths UCU members took an amazing 15 days of strike action (Tuesday 23 November 2021 to Monday 13 December 2021) in response to the threat of mass redundancies and are determined to fight the plans which would threaten the survival of English, History and Creative Writing courses. 

    In January 2022, UCU has censured Goldsmiths with the ultimate sanction of a global academic boycott over the university's sacking of up to 46 staff. Click here for more details about #BoycottGoldsmiths

    Goldsmiths UCU members were on strike again from Monday 7 February. Part of the action overlapped with the national USS pensions and Four Fights disputes. They will be on strike until Friday 4 March; click here for the full strike days at Goldsmiths.

    Update, April 2022:  On Friday 8 April, Goldsmiths' Council approved senior management's plans and issued notification of redundancy to 16 members of staff in History, English and Creative Writing, and Professional Services. Staff who are UCU members have been targeted; the branch co-president, departmental reps, and one of the branch treasurers have all been sent dismissal notices, in some cases before an exit meeting had taken place.

    In addition, there are serious concerns that the redundancies disproportionately impact women and part-time staff, including staff with specialisms in Middle Eastern history and postcolonial literature, who teach on modules such as 'Contemporary Arab migrant writing' and 'Contemporary African migrant literature and film'. The foundation year of the integrated degree programme in History - the only course of its kind in London - is also under threat, as senior management plan to make all 4 staff teaching on it redundant. Click here to read more about the lack of a financial rationale for these cuts and the numerous failures of the senior management team.

    In response, the branch has escalated its industrial action. Their successful reballot (on a turnout of 57.3%) saw a result of 76.7% voting in favour of strike action and 84.5% voting in favour of action short of a strike (ASOS). A marking and assessment boycott has now begun and, as part of this escalation, the branch asks that all UCU members who are contracted as external examiners at Goldsmiths to resign.

    For any members and branches who wish to support Goldsmiths UCU in their fight, please consider donating to Goldsmiths UCU's fighting fund.

      New Hugh Baird College: strike ballot over 1% pay offer

      A ballot for strike action opened on Monday 30 May at Hugh Baird College in Merseyside after management insisted it would only offer staff a 'derisory' 1% pay increase and a one off payment of just £500. Inflation is currently at 9%, making the offer a huge pay cut in real terms.

      The ballot ran until Monday 20 June and if successful would pave the way for strike action during key dates early in the next academic year. It followed an overwhelming 89% of UCU members indicating they would be prepared to back strike action in a consultative ballot with a turnout of 81%.

      Update, 21 June 2022: Over 93% of UCU members at Hugh Baird College who voted backed strikes in an industrial ballot that closed yesterday. 98% of members also voted yes to taking industrial action short of strike action, which could include working strictly to contract and refusing to undertake additional activities. Turnout was 74%.

      Kingston University: Boycott Athena Swan activities

      Kingston University UCU have called for all members and colleagues at Kingston University to implement a boycott of all activities related to Athena Swan accreditations with the university. While Kingston UCU branch supports the principles of Athena Swan Programme nationally, it has lost faith in the university management's commitment to pledges made under the Athena Swan banner and in its wider commitment to gender equality and support for parents and carers.

      Updated New City College: local pay, workload, levelling up and respect claim

      UCU members at New City College (NCC) have voted overwhelmingly in support for strike action over the local 2021/22 and 2022/23 pay, workload, levelling up and respect claim. The claim and consultative e-ballot was run alongside the national Respect FE campaign and called for a 10% pay rise, reduction in workloads, meaningful bargaining, London Weighting at Epping Forest, and levelling up 5 days additional holiday leave. On a strong turnout of 73%, 86% of members voted 'yes' for strike action. Despite this being a large college group with five constituent colleges (Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Havering, and Epping Forest) turnout was above 50% in all college sites and UCU branches. This is the first time that UCU has achieved such high levels of support for action across the group following the previous college mergers over the past few years. Further negotiations are planned with the employer and if meaningful progress is not made, the UCU branches will prepare to move towards a formal dispute and industrial action ballot. Congratulations to all members at NCC for their continuing support for the campaign.

      Update, 17 June 2022: Industrial action ballots opened at New City College (NCC) (closing on Friday 15 July). NCC UCU's ballot pertains to college management's failure to agree pay rises, level up holiday leave, and agree action to reduce workload. NCC staff are also threatening strike action against plans to fire and rehire 59 staff at Hackney campus over changes to sick leave policy. 

      Northern Ireland further education

      Agreement has been reached with the employers for lecturers to receive 2+2% pay increase for years 2019/20 and 2020/21. UCU previously rejected an offer of 7% payable over 4 years which came with a number of unacceptable strings attached in the form of regressive contractual change. This offer equates to 4% over two years with no preconditions. While this is a considerable improvement, there is still a long way to go to close the pay gap with schoolteachers and university lecturers. ASOS will remain in place but the trade unions have given a commitment not to escalate industrial action to allow fresh talks to commence in 2022. Members will continue to work to their contract but no work will be done in excess of it.

      Update, March 2022: After delay at government level progressing the Northern Ireland FE pay agreement, UCU wrote to the Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance threatening an escalation of industrial action if payment was not made in the March salary. The matter has now been resolved and negotiations for the 2021/22 salary round will resume. Members continue in ASOS while negotiators press for pay parity with schoolteachers.

      Northumbria University: imposed changes to academic roles, terms and conditions

      Northumbria University UCU members were balloted for industrial action to stop university management's plan to unilaterally impose changes to academic roles, terms and conditions. The ballot ran from Thursday 24 February to Wednesday 9 March 2022.

      Updated North West England FE colleges: industrial action at seven colleges

      Following very successful indicative ballots over taking strike action over the 2021-22 pay claim, full industrial action ballots took place at:

      • Burnley College
      • Bury College
      • City of Liverpool College
      • Hopwood Hall College
      • Nelson and Colne College
      • Oldham College
      • The Manchester College

      The ballot opened on Monday 21 March 2022 (with papers arriving from Wednesday 23 March) and closed on Monday 11 April at noon. The Manchester College ballot followed a different timetable; it opened on Monday 28 March 2022 and closed on Monday 25 April at noon.

      Update, 4 May 2022: UCU told the bosses of six colleges in North West England to urgently raise staff pay if they want to avoid strike action set to take place on Wednesday 18 May. Those six colleges include: Burnley College; Bury College; City of Liverpool College; Hopwood Hall; Nelson and Colne College Group; Oldham College. Industrial action will happen at The Manchester College on Friday 20 May. On these days many GCSE students are due to take a crucial English exam. UCU members and branches are encouraged to send messages of support and where possible donate to the fighting fund clearly marked 'NW FE pay disputes'. Here is Bury College UCU branch chair Salma Bhuta receiving a cheque for £5,000 from NW Unison in a fantastic demonstration of solidarity.

      Update, 18 May 2022: Strike action scheduled to start on Wednesday 18 May at Bury College was called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept an eleventh hour pay offer from management that is worth between 6% and 6.2% overall. The offer is triple management's original offer of only 2%. Industrial action Burnley College, City of Liverpool College, Hopwood Hall College, Nelson and Colne College, Oldham College, and The Manchester College continued.

      Update, 7 June 2022: Strike action due to take place on Tuesday 7 June and Friday 10 June at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale and Middleton, Greater Manchester, has been called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept a pay offer worth up to 7.5%. The deal comes as another four colleges in the region--Burnley College, City of Liverpool College, Manchester College and Oldham College--walked out on those two days. UCU has urged the other employers to make improved pay offers and avoid any further disruption.

      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:

      Update, 18 March 2022: Portsmouth UCU have now reached an agreement in principle with University of Portsmouth to settle this trade dispute. The proposed settlement includes revisions to the Portsmouth Organisational Change and Redundancy (OCR) Policy, which should increase job security for UCU members. UCU members discussed the proposed settlement at the branch AGM on Wednesday 16 March. The proposed settlement will now go to a ballot of all UCU members at University of Portsmouth.

      Queen Mary, University of London: strike over attempt to withhold 100% of staff pay

      UCU has warned university vice-chancellors they will face further strike ballots if they dock 100% of pay from staff who have returned to work. The warning came after a strike ballot opened at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) in February 2022 over management's decision to withhold 100% of pay for staff undertaking lawful action short of strike (ASOS), such as not rescheduling classes lost to strike action and removing uploaded materials related to those classes.

      Staff at QMUL returned to work after taking 10 days of strike action over three weeks in national disputes over USS pension cuts, pay and working conditions. But senior managers at QMUL said that staff would continue to be docked 100% of pay even though they would be back at work and carrying out most of their contracted duties. The university said it wpi;d dock 100% of pay until classes cancelled due to strike action were rescheduled and their related materials were put online. The ballot opened on Monday 28 February and will close on Monday 21 March, and if successful QMUL could face strike action as soon as April 2022.

      Update, 21 March 2022: QMUL UCU's ballot over punitive deductions was successful. 84% voted for strikes and 87% voted for ASOS on a 54.6% turnout.

      Update, 3 May 2022: QMUL UCU's members voted to take ten days of strike action. Strike dates include:

      • Thursday 5 May - Friday 6 May
      • Monday 9 May - Friday 13 May
      • Monday 16 May - Wednesday 18 May

      Ravensbourne University London: staff seeking UCU recognition

      Ravensbourne University London UCU are asking academic and research staff at Ravensbourne to sign a petition in support of recognition of UCU at the institution. Fran Carter, interim branch membership secretary at Ravensbourne UCU, said: 'Support for recognition of UCU among Ravensbourne staff is strong and our petition for recognition is growing by the day. Like everyone else in the sector, we have faced multiple restructures and loss of staff, and we have worked like Trojans to support our students and the university through the pandemic. Now it is time the university showed real support for its staff by recognising UCU. Ravensbourne staff want to be part of the university sector--not outliers--standing in solidarity beside university and FE colleagues. Please sign the petition and join your UCU branch to show your support'.

      Updated Richmond upon Thames College: fire and rehire plans to cut holidays

      UCU is in dispute with Richmond upon Thames College due to its plans to dismiss its entire teaching workforce of 127 lecturers and offer re-engagement on inferior contractual terms. The college wants to force through cuts to holidays which would see lecturers lose 13 days holiday leave entitlement.

      The use of fire and rehire tactics is unwelcome and unacceptable in the FE sector. UCU members at Richmond upon Thames college unanimously backed moving to an industrial action ballot and strike action to resist the employer plans. The ballot opened on 31 March and closed on Friday 6 May.

      Update, 11 May 2022:  Staff at Richmond upon Thames College are set to down tools for five consecutive days over plans by management to sack every teacher at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions if they want to stay. The action is set to take place from Monday 23 May to Friday 27 May, and it comes after an overwhelming 97% of UCU members who voted in the industrial ballots said 'Yes' to strike action. The ballot turnout was 88%, smashing the anti-trade union legal threshold of 50%.

      Update, 18 May 2022We need you to share this tweet and write to RUTC management using this tool telling them to withdraw this disgusting attack on our members. RUTC staff will be picketing the college here from 07:00-11:00 on every day of the strike action. There will also be an in-person mass rally at this location in support of the strikers on Monday 23 May 11:00. Speakers include: RUTC strikers; UCU general secretary Jo Grady; UCU incoming president Janet Farrar; Barry Gardiner MP; UCU London regional official Adam Lincoln; and other surprise guests. Please come down and show your support on Monday morning.

      Update, 27 May 2022: Staff at Richmond upon Thames College (RUTC) went on strike for five days (Monday 23 to Friday 27 May) over plans by management to sack all 127 teachers at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on new contracts that would see them lose 10 days of annual leave. UCU general secretary Jo Grady, Barry Gardiner MP and Labour peer John Hendy QC all spoke at a well attended rally outside RUTC earlier.

      Update, 17 June 2022: Staff at Richmond upon Thames College (RUTC) will warn prospective students and parents about the behaviour of college management as a further strike day (Tuesday 28 June) was called to coincide with college open days in a bitter dispute over plans to fire and rehire 127 teachers. Demonstrations will be held on the other open days on Wednesday 22 and Saturday 25 June.

      Update, 24 June 2022: Please join our emergency rally at RUTC on Tuesday 28 June 16:00-19:30 where UCU members will be picketing the college. Come and show your support at 'Marsh Farm Lane' (not road) where it intersects with Langhorn Drive and the car parks.

      You can:

      New University of Roehampton: redundancy threat for 226 academics

      University of Roehampton UCU has declared a dispute following management's plans to make 226 academics redundant (around half the total number of academics) and force them to compete for a very reduced number of posts on higher workloads. The redundancies are part of a 'strategic realignment' to convert the university from a research-intensive one that did very well in the recent REF into a skills-based training institute along government lines. This involves the closure of some of the university's highest-ranked courses in five out of six schools, a shift from research to knowledge exchange, and a severe reduction in access to critical courses for Roehampton's largely working class and ethnic-minority students. All UCU members can:

      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 2021 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 2021, 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 - say no to a two-tier system UCU members at Staffordshire University were balloted over industrial action because of plans 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.

      The ballot industrial action opened on Friday 18 February and ran until Friday 11 March.  

      Update, 14 March 2022: Staffordshire University will see strike action from Monday 28 March unless it drops plans to employ new staff via a wholly owned subsidiary company. The announcement comes after Staffordshire University staff voted to strike over management's introduction of a two-tier workforce. 70% of staff who voted in the ballot voted Yes to strike action. 80% of those who voted also voted yes to action short of strike. The turnout beat the Tory anti trade union threshold of 50% and UCU has notified the university that staff will walkout on Monday 28 March.

      Update, 22 March 2022: The full strike dates at Staffordshire University are Monday 28 March, Wednesday 30 March, and Thursday 7 April 2022.

      Update, 27 April 2022: Staffordshire University faces a fourth day of industrial action on Wednesday 27 April.

      Update, 27 May 2022: Staffordshire UCU members are currently undertaking action short of a strike (ASOS); negotiations are happening in an attempt to resolve this dispute before a further escalation of industrial action.

      To show your support:

      Updated University of Winchester: Workload Allocation Model dispute

      UCU is in dispute with University of Winchester over the proposed imposition of a new Workload Allocation Model. The vice-chancellor has stated that workload is not a matter for negotiation with UCU and has declined to meet with UCU to resolve the dispute. Winchester UCU branch officers are concerned that university management's approach amounts to an attempt to diminish long standing trade union recognition agreements by seeking to bypass UCU. UCU members at University of Winchester are being asked to take part in a consultative ballot on strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS), which will close on Friday 25 March.

      Update, April 2022: UCU Officers have approved a ballot for strike action and ASOS to open on 5 May and close at midday on 25 May. The proposed ASOS includes that UCU members will be requested to withhold cooperation from implementation of the WAM. The branch are proposing up to 15 days of strike action, with the timing of the proposed actions are scheduled to seek to disrupt key times of the employer's business, for example, open days, clearing, induction and key teaching weeks in semester one.

      Update, May 2022: Winchester UCU won the support of members in a ballot for strike action (77.1% yes) and action short of strike action (91.6% yes) with a 54.4% turnout. UCU has called a day of strike action on Tuesday 14 June, which is an open day for University of Winchester. Winchester UCU members will also commence ongoing action short of a strike (ASOS), including ongoing withholding of cooperation from implementation of the University of Winchester Workload Allocation Model (WAM). University of Winchester will be meeting with branch negotiators on Tuesday 7 June, who will be seeking to find a negotiated resolution that meets the demands of UCU members.

      New University of Wolverhampton: strike threat over 146 course cull

      UCU has declared a dispute with the University of Wolverhampton and said that it will be left with no choice but to ballot staff for strike action if the university pushes ahead with plans to suspend student recruitment onto 146 courses. Students who have received and accepted offers on those 146 courses (to start in September 2022) have now been referred back to UCAS to see if they could go elsewhere.

      Earlier in May 2022, UCU wrote to the university's interim vice chancellor Professor Ian Campbell explaining that the university could face legal action as the course closures are likely to result in more than 20 redundancies. This means the university has a statutory duty to consult with UCU as the recognised trade union, but it has so far failed to do so. The university has not responded to concerns raised in correspondence from UCU and last week cancelled a meeting with the union that had been in the diary for almost a year. It also cancelled a meeting of the board of governors.

      The suspension of 146 courses would see significant numbers of staff losing their jobs  and have a devastating impact on current and future students as well as the local community. The majority of the courses under threat are in performing arts, fashion, social sciences, interior design and fine art.

      Update, 17 June 2022: UCU has written to the Office for Students (OfS) urging it to investigate Wolverhampton's plans, which the union believes breach government regulations.


      Winning

      University of Sussex: no compulsory redundancies

      The University Executive Group (UEG) at the University of Sussex refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of a widely criticised Size and Shape programme. University of Sussex UCU branch declared a dispute. Following more than six months of continuing negotiations between UCU and UEG a number of actions have been agreed; the dispute has been resolved and there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the Size and Shape programme. UEG has now moved forward into implementing the changes with the intention that the Size and Shape Programme will formally conclude by August 2022.

      Hopwood College wins big pay offer

      Strike action due to take place on Tuesday 7 June and Friday 10 June at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale and Middleton, Greater Manchester, has been called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept a pay offer worth up to 7.5%.

      Bury College wins big last minute pay offer

      Strike action scheduled to start on Wednesday 18 May 2022 at Bury College was called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept an eleventh hour pay offer from management that is worth between 6% and 6.2% overall. The offer is triple management's original offer of only 2%.

      Royal College of Art wins deal

      Mounting frustration of members at the RCA 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 to scrap enhanced statutory redundancy procedures for academics are also being resisted.  Members 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 were served with formal notice of 14 days of strike action in October and November 2021.

      In subsequent talks being held under the auspices of Acas, the branch were left stunned by comments from the RCA which confirmed that some academics employed by the college would not be granted dedicated research time because of their part-time status. UCU said this was learly discriminatory. Basic and fundamental employment rights were also not deemed to be compatible with pedagogical imperatives and new academics wpi;d not be sufficiently qualified to undertake summative assessment. UCU believed the RCA's ability to provide a high standard of assessment was under threat and 'the argument that the curriculum is so fluid that it requires no employment rights is disingenuous' adding that 'it's time for the RCA to take these negotiations seriously'.

      Update, January 2022: the last round of Acas negotiations was eventually arranged for 13 December 2021. This was almost two months since the previous Acas meeting and the parties broke up without any agreement, with UCU representatives disappointed by the RCA's inability to respond on the day to issues flagged in advance for negotiation. RCA sent responses to outstanding issues just before Christmas 2021 which could only be fully reviewed by branch negotiators on 11 January 2022. From initial readings, the branch are pleased to see movement on two of the three outstanding issues and hope to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of members as quickly as possible.

      Update, February 2022: RCA UCU were on strike as part of the Four Fights campaign on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 Feburary, and back on strike for the local dispute from Monday 28 February to Wednesday 2 March. RCA senior management failed to meet the agreed deadline for providing a draft agreement. This failure to deliver reneged on the commitment they made in Acas.

      Update, March 2022: RCA UCU achieved victory against casualisation and workload following industrial action. The final agreement would be put to a members' vote. 

      Update, May 2022: UCU members at the Royal College of Art (RCA) today announced that they have voted to accept recognition from the employer as part of a resolution to a long-running dispute, which has seen 41 days of strike action take place since 2020. The UCU RCA branch overwhelmingly voted to adopt a deal negotiated with college management which includes:  

      • full employment rights for all 
      • no more zero-hour contracts  
      • new routes to permanent contracts 
      • caps on teaching workloads for staff.

      London South East Colleges (LSEC): pay award agreed

      A 2% pay award backdated to September 2021 has been agreed at London South East Colleges (LSEC) for 2021/22 after successful negotiations with management.

      University of Kent: marking boycott wins no compulsory redundancies deal

      For the third year running University of Kent UCU have defended against all job cuts. Members balloted four months in advance of 'reviews' of Arts and Humanities subjects and launched a successful marking boycott. The willingness of members to take decisive action backed up by an all-women and non-binary lay negotiating team at Kent UCU have secured a significant victory: no compulsory redundancy processes in the calendar year 2022. To learn how they won and share experiences on how to save jobs, email Kent UCU president Claire Hurley.

      Sheffield International College: pay and working conditions

      UCU members at Sheffield International College called off eight days of planned strike action after the union reached an agreement on the long-standing dispute over pay and holiday entitlements for 2021. Staff at the University of Sheffield International College (USIC), which is part of and run by the private company Study Group, had been in dispute following a breakdown in talks with the employer after it refused to budge from a 0% pay offer. The dispute was also over holiday allowance.

      The deal will see staff receive a 3% pay increase, backdated to September 2021, and equalisation of holiday allowance so that all staff get 30 days leave. This will result in an increase of up to 5 days holiday for the college's student experience team. The employer has also committed to commencing pay negotiations for the period 2022 as soon as possible and has tabled an early offer of 3% which the branch will respond to in due course.  Strike off at University of Sheffield International College as deal is reached

      Newham College: win on pay and conditions

      Staff at Newham College have won improved pay and conditions after successful negotiations between management and UCU. The deal includes a commitment by the college to improve academic pay scales, implement a 2% pay rise, review sessional tutor's contracts and to implement a workload working group and a sustainability working group.

      West London College: UCU and Unison agree deal

      UCU and Unison members at West London College (Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College) have agreed a new deal which delivers the first pay increase staff have had in recent years as well as agreements on workload, holiday and a better deal for support staff.

      Sussex International Study Centre: staff won union recognition

      Members at our newest branch, Sussex International Study Centre, began a statutory recognition ballot on 6 December 2021. The employer continually resisted our positive approaches and refused a voluntary agreement; they spent £1000s on expensive lawyers and consultants rather than recognise UCU. On 22 December 2021, UCU members won the statutory recognition ballot with a turnout of 74%, and 95% of those voting supported the proposal that UCU be recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining with the employer.

      Havant and South Downs College dispute: agreement reached

      UCU members at Havant and South Downs College, along with colleagues in NEU, have now settled their trade dispute with college management. HSDC agreed to the demands of UCU to halt the redundancies in summer 2021. UCU and NEU engaged in negotiations with the college, which led to an agreement to full disclosure of financial information, and improvements in college policies and procedures. 74.2% of UCU members supported the agreement in a ballot.

        University of Leicester redundancies

        Following negotiations between Leicester UCU and the University of Leicester, an agreement has been reached that has ended the local dispute between the university and UCU concerning the Shaping for Excellence Programme.

        Leicester UCU members have voted to accept an agreement which can be seen here. Consequently, the Higher Education Committee officers of UCU have, following representations on behalf of the branch, agreed to cease the censure and academic boycott of the University of Leicester.

        The agreement commits to no compulsory redundancies as a result of phase 2 of the Shaping for Excellence Programme. The executive board has agreed to rule out beginning any further restructuring leading to collective compulsory redundancies until January 2023. The agreement also sets out a number of joint actions that will be taken forward to achieve an increased focus on partnership working.

        Although the national dispute is ongoing, we are pleased to be able to jointly announce that our local dispute has now ended.

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

        Congratulations to UCU members at Capital City College Group (CCCG) who have agreed a deal on pay, conditions and lesson observations after taking ten days of strike action. UCU London official Adam Lincoln said: 'This deal is a testament to our members' determination to fight for fairer pay, working conditions and against excessive monitoring and surveillance of staff. This agreement also levels up pay and holidays across the group.' CCCG includes City and Islington College, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and Westminster Kingsway College.

        South Thames Colleges Group wins revised pay offer

        UCU members at South Thames Colleges Group (STCG), which includes South Thames, Merton, Kingston and Carshalton Colleges, have voted to accept a revised pay offer.

        This adds to STCG's original settlement of 1.25% and guarantees a total 2% consolidated pay increase to all staff earning between £23,000 and £40,000. STCG will also pay a minimum of 2.25% for all those earning below £23,000. This represents in total a welcome investment in staff pay from STCG amounting to nearly £800,000 for the year 2021/22.

        Read the full story here

        Croydon College: UCU win a wide-ranging pay and conditions deal

        Following a fantastic ballot result and seven days of strike action, Croydon College members have now voted overwhelmingly to accept a deal negotiated by UCU on pay and other conditions to settle the 2020/21 pay dispute and to formally agree a settlement for 2021/22.

        This agreement represents a significant achievement for members - especially for our lower paid members in learning support roles, and is one of the most comprehensive and wide ranging settlements achieved in the national FE pay dispute 2020/21.

        The deal includes a backdated 2% pay increase for all staff, 5% pay increase for learning support practitioners, learning and development routes into teaching roles, progress coaches moved onto permanent contracts, restriction on the use of external recruitment agencies to short-term urgent cover (agency staffing not more than 2% of any team and agency placements limited to a 3 months). In addition, removal of the first two spine points for teaching staff - with the starting point for qualified teachers approx.. £30k. There are additional commitments around workload protection, 4-week summer leave period, simplified pay progression, and moving away from spot salaries for support staff over the longer term.

        This victory was only made possible by the strong support from members for the strike action and the hard work of the UCU negotiators. Well done to Croydon members and branch officers for what has been achieved as a result of their dispute.

        United Colleges Group: contract dispute resolved

        Following a fantastic ballot result and the threat of strike action, UCG members have now voted overwhelmingly to approve a new harmonised contract and a Collective Agreement to end the long-running contract dispute.

        Members at both UCG colleges - the City of Westminster College and the College of North West London - have been fighting against imposed changes to contractual terms and conditions, including cuts to tutor remission throughout 2021. In April 2021 UCU members voted overwhelmingly for strike action over changes to agreed contracts imposed by management that would have seen 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.

        Intensive negotiations took place between UCU negotiators and UCG management over recent months leading to an in principle agreement being reached. UCU members have approved a revised harmonised contract (incorporating CPD remission for all teaching staff and additional remission for tutorials) and a Collective Agreement. This harmonised contract is intended to apply to all full-time and fractional teaching/lecturing staff (except those who choose to remain on legacy contracts). A number of other matters raised during the negotiations with the employer such as TOIL and summer leave periods are included in the Collective Agreement. In relation to hourly-paid lecturers, the employer has agreed to maintain your existing contracts and the historical arrangements around payment for tutor groups and CPD for HPLs. This victory was only made possible by the tremendous support members gave to UCU during the dispute and as a consequence of the industrial action ballot result mandate provided by members. The strength of feeling from members directly contributed to the employer entering into meaningful negotiations with UCU. Special thanks to the branch officers who have worked tirelessly to secure this outcome for members.

        Birmingham City University: health and safety concerns

        Birmingham City University UCU was in dispute over failure to agree on on-site learning under Covid-19, and in January 2021 won their industrial ballot to take action. The employer scheduled several open days to take place on campus which members had real concerns about being required to attend. The employer announced a three-week extension of the deadline for students to submit end-of-year assessments, but did not similarly extended the marking deadlines for staff. Action short of a strike began on 8 June 2021, and consisted 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. The dispute had been resolved.

        Novus prison education: Covid-19 safety dispute

        Following an extended period of industrial action,  a deal has been reached to end the dispute over health & safety issues at Novus prisons.

        Swindon New College win pay and conditions deal

        Congratulations to members at Swindon New College. Following an e-ballot of all members they overwhelmingly (90 % in favour) to settle their dispute with the college after their threat to take strike action led to a deal which includes:

        • full and immediate  harmonisation of pay scales giving  many members at the old Swindon college substantial pay increases backdated to August ( this was previously resisted by college management as not affordable )
        • end to early August return to duties and the right to take off 5 consecutive weeks of leave in the summer ( a demand that members with school age children particularly welcome)
        • agreement establishing the right to work from home once timetabled duties are completed  ( this follows a return to presentism now that F2F is the norm at the college )
        • reduction in class contact hours.

        City of Bristol College UCU accept deal on pay, holiday and working policies

        Well done to UCU members at City of Bristol College for securing an impressive deal on pay and other matters as a result of a tremendous ballot result and the threat of strike action. In a consultative ballot, members have voted overwhelmingly to accept that deal to settle the current dispute. The deal includes:

        • a backdated 2.2% pay increase, when the College's previous position was that such an increase was unaffordable
        • additional holiday (closure) days
        • hybrid working policy to be agreed with UCU this term that increases opportunities for teaching staff to work from home (current contracts require 37 hrs a week on site)
        • to agree additional remission from teaching hours for duties that don't currently attract remission
        • a reduction in the maximum annual teaching contact hours. 

        Congratulations to members and officers for what they have achieved!

        Weymouth College members secure pay deal

        Following a fantastic ballot result and the threat of strike action, Weymouth College members have now voted overwhelmingly to accept a deal negotiated by UCU on pay and other conditions to settle the 2020/21 pay dispute. The deal includes a backdated 2.2% pay increase, improvements to TOIL and flexible working policies, and limits to scheduling and frequency of staff meetings that might otherwise impact on members' health and well-being and their ability to take proper breaks. Well done to Weymouth members and branch officers for what has been achieved as a result of their engagement and willingness to take strike action if necessary.

        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.

        Bangor University UCU avoids compulsory redundancies

        Bangor University 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.

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

        The long-running dispute at University of Liverpool has ended as UCU won the battle to avoid any compulsory redundancies. The six-month campaign had already resulted in an international academic boycott, 24 days of industrial action, and a marking boycott against plans that would have originally seen 47 jobs lost in Liverpool's faculty of health and life sciences. Five additional days of industrial action were planned, starting on Monday 4 October, but are now cancelled. Congratulations to University of Liverpool UCU branch committee, UCU members, and our regional officials in North West England.

        New City College: restructuring redundancies and 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.

        Last updated: 24 June 2022