Branch priorities for early 2019

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In this post, we list the Senate House branch’s priorities for the next few months. These were identified following the first meeting of this year’s branch committee on 7 Jan and during discussion of a motion at a well-attended branch members meeting on 22 Jan.

  1. USS pension dispute – identify opportunities to keep the dispute on the radar of senior management
  2. London Weighting – continue campaigning work on this important pay equality issue
  3. In-housing – hold the University to commitments made; first of all, the in-housing of reception, AV, post and portering colleagues in spring/summer 2019
  4. Casework – provide high quality advice for UCU members
  5. Increase awareness of equality and the law in the workplace at the University
  6. Take action on pay equality and casualization
  7. Lobby for UoL to support colleagues and students from EU countries affected by Brexit.
  8. Take action to normalise union membership
  9. Increase UCU membership at the branch
  10. Make better use of the existing channels of influence we already have as a branch

If you have any questions or comments about this post, please email the branch committee. UCU members can also request a copy of the finalised motion that led to this post.

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EU settlement scheme: joint statement by UCU and UNISON Senate House branches

UCU & UNISON

 

Following persistent lobbying by UNISON and UCU over a number of months, we were pleased to note the University of London’s announcement on 18th January that it had agreed to reimburse the £65 application fee for colleagues who are EU nationals applying for settled status under the government scheme.

A few days later, the UK government announced that the £65 application fee was being waived.

On this issue, we will now ask the University to ensure that any colleagues who have already gone through the application process as part of the pilot scheme are made aware of the fact that the Government intends to reimburse them – see https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families.

UCU and UNISON branches at Senate House, University of London

EU settlement scheme

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Since the result of the EU referendum in June 2016, we have been urging the University of London to explore steps to support colleagues who are EU nationals potentially affected by Brexit.

In recent months, our discussions have shifted to give particular emphasis on the opportunity for the UoL to follow in the footsteps of many other UK HE institutions in funding the £65 settled status fee for colleagues with EU passports. This was formally debated at the Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee (JNCC) on 13 November 2018.

Already in 2019, we have received many enquiries from UCU members wanting to know where we are with this. Even if 100 of our colleagues decided to apply for this funding from UoL the total outlay of £6,500 is small, especially in response to a referendum result that colleagues with EU passport had no agency in.

We will continue to press for action on this.

A tool you can use to evaluate your stress levels

ayo-ogunseinde-202302-unsplashWorkplace stress is, in our view, one of the main health and safety issues faced by UCU members, colleagues who work in higher education and the wider workforce in the UK.

There are objective ways you can measure your own stress levels. One of these is a handy tool issued by the Health and Safety Executive. It’s a questionnaire you can use to reflect on your own stress levels. Download and complete it by clicking here. This tool is widely recognised, including by the University of London within its Occupational Stress Management Policy.

If you find yourself answering ‘always’ to many of the questions, we would recommend that you get in touch with your UCU rep for further advice about your options.

 

USS dispute: summing up the last month or so

9 November: Universities UK has said that ‘it is clear that there is support from most employers for the JEP’s recommendations’: Clear employer support for JEP recommendations, says UUK. UCU later called this is a ‘hugely important step’ for members

21 November: further evidence released by pensions experts First Actuarial indicates that USS do not need to increase contributions to resolve the 2017 valuation

22 November: USS announce that they will be conducting a new valuation. Michael Otsuka warns that this may be an attempt to subvert JEP recommendations

12 December: Michael Otsuka releases details of an exchange he’s had with the Chief Risk Officer at USS which suggests that USS has adopted a policy of de-risking assets to the extent that it refuses to allow a significant surplus.

So, the union (broadly) agrees that JEP recommendations are a helpful way forward for securing our DB pension in the future. Employers appear to be saying (via UUK) that they do. But USS seem to be dragging their feet, and this is concerning.

One thing you can day to express your frustration at this situation is sign this petition to call for the resignation of Bill Galvin:

We will of course keep you as updated as possible.

Solidarity with colleagues in SOAS

UCU Senate House branch would like to place on record its solidarity with our colleagues in SOAS, who are facing draconian cuts. These cuts will affect students and visiting researchers as well as staff.  Library services stand to be particularly badly affected with the potential loss of 25% of current staff. Other Professional Services teams are also facing significant changes.

We urge the management at SOAS to rethink these cuts which will have a devastating impact on jobs and services.  They will also undermine SOAS’s national and international reputation. 

Background information on the proposed cuts and their effects is here:

https://soasunion.org/news/article/6013/Library-Staff-Statement-on-SOAS-Cuts/