All posts by Paul Trimmer

UCU Strike at Warwick – 25th May 2016

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Staff and students at the entrance to the University of Warwick this morning. Solidarity in the face of year after year of effective pay cuts, growing casualisation and a worsening gender pay gap in Higher Education.

Events today:

Coventry UCU 11am The Quadrant

Socialist Collective 12midday Birmingham Uni Chaplaincy

Events tomorrow :

West Midlands Regional  UCU 12midday The Irish Centre Birmingham

Higher education (HE): strike is ON as yesterday’s negotiations offer no improvement

UCU negotiators met with the University and College Employer Association (UCEA) this week in the hope of finding a solution to the current dispute amidst growing anger over news that vice-chancellor pay rose by 6.1% last year. Regrettably UCEA made no improvement on the 1.1% pay offer to staff or on measures to address gender inequality and insecure contracts and the strike action will continue on Wednesday and Thursday next week as planned.

Please join picket lines and support the strike action:

UCU initial comment on higher education white paper

UCU has warned that the rapid expansion of private university provision which gives new providers the power to award degrees from day one will endanger the UK’s hard won global reputation for excellence.

UCU also said it was ‘hard to see’ how the proposed teaching excellence framework (TEF) would improve teaching quality, suggesting that the government should focus instead on tackling job insecurity amongst teaching staff and ensuring that academic careers are attractive to the brightest talent.

For the full article visit the UCU website.

‘Rate for the Job’ tool released on UCU website

 

‘Rate for the job’ is UCU’s new online tool to enable you to find out more about your pay.  HE rate for the jobCreate a report based on your own salary. Compared with other staff in your institution and other workplaces. Find the best payer.

And find out how much pay you have lost in recent years due to low settlements.

To get the most from this tool, you will need your membership number.  If you do not have this please contact us and we can find it for you.

Non-members should head to the ‘lite’ version of the tool here.

UCU confirms two-day strike at UK universities in May

UCU has confirmed plans for a two-day national strike at UK universities as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

UCU members in higher education will walk out on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May. Staff will also begin working to contract from 25 May, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to target further strike action in June and July, and are considering additional action in August to coincide with the release of A-level results. The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work, to begin in the autumn if an acceptable offer has still not been made.

Newsletter – May 2016

The latest UCU Warwick newsletter has now been published.

UCU Newsletter May 2016

HE Green Paper & Prevent

The Green Paper and Prevent are two key facets of a general assault on the fundamental principles of public higher education – accessibility, democracy and academic freedom.

This article explains why the Green Paper is so dangerous for members of the UCU and why we must continue to be part of nation-wide struggle to stop it

Trade dispute between UCU and employers concerning the 2016/17 claim regarding pay and terms and conditions

The ballot closed at noon on 4th May 2016. Almost two thirds (65.4%) of members who voted backed strike action and over three quarters (77.3%) voted for action short of a strike.

Pay a Living Wage!

UCU, together with the other campus unions, is putting pressure on University management to pay the Living Wage to all staff.

Angry and Ashamed – Pay Attention to Pay or Pay the Price

Pay of people on the main 51-point salary scale has declined by 14.5% since 2009/10, even though annual surpluses across the sector have increased by 74.7% and reserves are up by 57.4%.

Talking Union – TUC Interactive guide

TUC have published a guide to help you talk ‘Union’ to your colleagues.

Casework support – A note of caution

Each year we get many requests for support from people who have joined with issues in progress and wish to access support.  The Union is a self-help group, not a service which people pay for and we are keen to hold ourselves to that ethos.

Calling for new caseworkers

We are looking for new members to join our existing group of caseworkers.  Full formal training is provided and there are many opportunities to learn informally from members of our dedicated team.

Warwick UCU Website revamp

The Warwick UCU website has been revamped – we would be interested in hearing your views on this.

Trade Dispute Ballot Results

Trade dispute between UCU and employers concerning the 2016/17 claim regarding pay and terms and conditions

The ballot closed at noon on 4th May 2016. The response to the question you were balloted on is as follows:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?
Number of ballot papers returned: 21,141
Number voting YES: 13,775 (65.4%)
Number voting NO: 7,292 (34.6%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 74

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of a strike?
Number of ballot papers returned: 21,141
Number voting YES: 16,270 (77.3%)
Number voting NO: 4,770 (22.7%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 101

You can view the full scrutineer’s report here.

UCU News https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/8205/UCU-members-in-higher-education-vote-for-strike-action-in-national-row-over-pay

Vote Yes

Vote yes in the HE pay ballot

Across the entire HE sector, people like you are being underpaid, made to work under unfair conditions and discriminated against, while vice-chancellors, principals and other top staff are earning almost SEVEN times as much as the average worker.

  • UNFAIR LOWER PAY: YOUR pay has decreased by 14.5% in just six years compared to the rate of inflation – while the cost of living keeps rising
  • SHAMEFUL GENDER INEQUALITY: female academics are paid £6,103 per year LESS than male counterparts
  • SCANDALOUS CASUALISED WORK: more than 21,000 teaching staff are on zero-hours contracts
  • NO JOB SECURITY: over TWO THIRDS of research staff are stuck on fixed-term contracts.

What can I do about it?

First of all – make sure you VOTE before 4 May.

Please ensure that you complete and return your ballot paper as soon as possible.

Gone but Not Forgotten: Absent Friends in Life Science and Warwick Medical Schools

Nearly two years ago, management announced that there was to be a whole-scale review of the School of Life Sciences, followed by a whole-scale review of Warwick Medical School. Allegedly, these two departments had failed to generate enough income and staffing costs were to be dramatically reduced. The most shocking aspect of the proposal from UCU’s point of view was the university’s insistence that academic staff should be sacked on the basis of a single financial metric (research grant income) and that this measure should be applied retrospectively for the previous four-year period.

Over 2,000 people signed an online petition[1] calling on the Vice-Chancellor to abandon this “very radical approach” because it was “profoundly damaging to academic life and the quality of research at the University of Warwick”. Did management listen to any of form of dissent or counter-argument? Seemingly not. The review went ahead exactly as intended, and nearly 40 members of staff left the university, including a number of highly-skilled professional staff.

For sure, the university needs to exercise proper financial oversight. We’d be the first to complain if our salaries weren’t paid. BUT, it is unethical and counter-productive to value an academic’s contribution solely in terms of grant income, without reference to any other aspect of their job description. And it is doubly heinous to do so retrospectively. We would like to think that Warwick will never repeat what can only be described as a new low in its treatment of staff.

The picture shows Warwick UCU President, Dr. Justine Mercer, presenting the petition to the Deputy Registrar. We were denied permission to present it directly to the Vice-Chancellor, though we understand it will be reported to Steering and Council.

[1]  The full text of the online petition read:

The University of Warwick is currently undertaking a series of redundancy exercises predicated on the notion that successful grant applications are the key measure of performance and value for research staff.  This is a very radical approach, not widely adopted in the sector, and we believe it is profoundly damaging to academic life and the quality of research at the University of Warwick.  We, the undersigned, call on the Vice-Chancellor to end this damaging and dangerous practice.

UCU Petition
Warwick UCU President, Dr. Justine Mercer, presenting the petition to the Deputy Registrar.

Supporting the Junior Doctors Strike on Wednesday 27 April

Warwick UCU branch sends solidarity to the junior doctors today and tomorrow.

We will be coming along to the picket line at Warwick Hospital ( Warwick Hospital, Lakin Road, Warwick CV34 5BW ) at 08:30 tomorrow morning to show our support in person. As university workers busy resisting the destructive measures proposed by the government Higher Education Green Paper, we are inspired by your actions.

In both education and the NHS we know that protecting working conditions is also about protecting the rights of students and patients and defending our public services for everybody.