A very important Spring Branch meeting is taking place on the 17th of February. It is absolutely essential that as many members as possible make the effort to join.

1. HE Pay update

The National UCU Higher Education Commitee (HEC) meets on 26 February to consider the outcome of the consultative e-ballot and the survey on industrial action. HEC will also make decisions regarding the next steps in the dispute. We will have two reps to attend a briefing on the 18th. They will need to have the branch’s view on the following questions (to be asked at the Branch meeting):

The questions are:

  1. What’s your branch’s view on accepting or rejecting the offer?
  2. What’s your branch’s view on your members voting for industrial action on the New JNCHES final offer 2020/21?
  3. What is your branch’s assessment of your member’s capacity to deliver sustained industrial action to improve the final offer this year? 
  4. In regards to industrial action that is action short of a strike, what is your assessment of your branch’s capacity to deliver sustained and escalating ASOS this year?
  5. In regards to ASOS what is your assessment of your branch’s capacity to respond effectively to management threats of 100% pay deductions?

The survey closes at the end of Wednesday 17th February.

2. Collective Agreement

The campus unions entered into a collective agreement with the university last summer. The prospects looked bleak at that point, and they were seeking immediate/urgent in year reductions in expenses. We agreed that a full review of whether these measures were in fact needed as part of our acceptance of these cuts would take place in January. As you will be aware the university’s financial position is substantially better than the summer forecasts.

Savings amounted to more than £5m, this was a huge sacrifice by staff especially those in grades F, G and H who have had their progression increments worth hundreds of pounds to individual staff members held back, hitting some part-time workers who earn less than £20K pa, particularly hard.

The provost all-staff message claimed  “very constructive meetings with trade unions this month to review the University’s current financial position and consider whether it is possible to release any of these measures at this time.”

From our perspective, the meetings referred to by the Provost were very short (~30 minutes), called at very short notice (less than 24 hour notice in one instance) and comments we made to the Provost’s message were not included in the communication to staff, and so the Provost’s message does not represent a negotiated position.

We need a serious, systematic and open review of the University’s financial situation to ensure we can have, and continue to have, constructive and meaningful discussions. We have requested that more in-depth meetings need to take place before our Branch meeting on 17th Feb.

It is essential that we can fully inform members about the university’s financial position with respect to both income and expenditure and hopefully be able to look forward to these suspensions being lifted. This review has to make sure that sacrifices being made are matched by prudent spending (i.e. no money is being wasted); to do this we have to have open and frank discussions about both savings and spending.

Many members who are on relatively modest salaries, sacrificed a lot this year and they will rightly be asking, what about senior salaries? We want to inform members that as part of the July 2020 collective agreement we signed, there was a very important footnote about this: “the University’s Remuneration Committee has agreed that a significant part of senior managers’ pay should be contingent upon personal and institutional performance. The full level of reward is paid if the Committee is satisfied that managers have achieved the expectations of their role in full and the University achieves its institutional objectives.” And we hold the university to this.

As you will have read in the provost’s message to staff rather than having a review in January this is being extended to the end of February. We have agreed to this given the current situation; we have made very clear our first priority will be the reinstatement of the suspended increments.

3. Penryn Campus

In the last JCCN, we have raised the issue of Penryn, following changes in programmes in English, Mathematics and Mining, and the response from the governing body can be found in the JCCN minutes. Following on from the EGM motion in August (Future of Penryn Campus), branch members are concerned by the continued pause in English and Mining Engineering on the Penryn Campus, particularly after the announcement of 150 redundancies at the University of Leicester.  We would like greater clarity from the University, specifically workable targets to reinstate the programmes.  We have set up a negotiating team for Penryn but are asking members to contact us with any concerns.  We are also setting up a cross-campus working group and urge both English and CSM staff to join us.