Latest motions on ‘Four Fights’ offer and Covid-19 strategy

Several branches have today (Friday 22 May) voted to reject the employers’ offer in the ‘Four Fights’ dispute on pay and equalities and to revisit the situation in the autumn. Sheffield, KCL, UCL, Goldsmiths, Leeds, Queen Mary, Lancaster, Ulster and Strathclyde (that we know of) all decided that the offer was nowhere near sufficient but also that it wasn’t the right time to pursue a ballot in June. Both Goldsmiths and Queen Mary also called on the General Secretary to hold a “national meeting for members and representatives along the lines of the recent, highly successful mass meetings by the National Educators Union” with QM calling on HEC to “launch a national campaign in response to the mass redundancies threatened by university management”. We also link below to some important motions including one from Liverpool on a Joint Union Campus Campaign around Covid-19 (which adopts our manifesto) another from Strathclyde and finally Queen Mary’s great motion on a “Post Covid Settlement”.

Queen Mary UCU motions on USS and Four Fights

Goldsmiths UCU motion on USS and Four Fights

Strathclyde UCU motion on Four Fights

Strathclyde UCU motion calling for a national union strategy over COVID-19

Queen Mary emergency motion for a Post Covid Settlement

Liverpool UCU, Joint Campus Union Campaign (May 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a climate of uncertainty across the Higher Education sector. This crisis has highlighted the flaws in a marketised model of Higher Education that has emphasised revenue over the working and learning conditions of staff and students creating widespread precarity and inequality.

This Branch notes the work of the ‘The New Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance in COVID Times’ and believes such a manifesto can act as the basis for transforming universities into institutions that prioritise the interests of staff and students over profit and managerial vanity projects. 

This Branch believes that the response to this crisis does not have to include threats to jobs or an undermining of our working conditions. An alternative is possible.

Therefore this Branch resolves to launch a campaign with the campus unions of UNISON and UNITE to put an end to the failed experiment of marketisation and create a sustainable university. To do this, the joint unions will make the following demands:

  • Reiterate our claim that all fixed term contracts set to expire be renewed for a minimum of six months.
  • Reiterate that our members refused to take on work previously done by fixed-term and casualised colleagues if asked.
  • No redundancies, threats to jobs or changes to terms and conditions of employment.

To achieve this we demand the University:

  • Scraps capital development projects. Any resumption of such projects would need the collective agreement of the campus unions.
  • Develops plans and financial models drawing down on its unrestricted reserves before any consideration of job losses and erosion of terms and conditions of employment. These models should be shared transparently with the campus unions and all staff.
  • Put an end to gross pay inequality by introducing a maximum salary package for senior management of £100,000 per annum which would equate to roughly six times the amount of the lowest paid full time member of staff.
  • To campaign to roll out similar measures across the sector as a first step in moving towards a sustainable, de-marketised, system of higher education.

Resources for #UCUStrikesBack 2020

The Strikes Are Working!

‘Go with the flow’ – how to persuade people to join UCU & support the pickets

Thanks to @bronterre1 and @PlacardSticks

Strike Websites

SOAS

Sussex

New branch leaflets

Treasure trove of resources – posters, bunting design, badges & more – available HERE

What’s it all about?

The UCU has produced a short explainer on USS here

New Videos

thanks to Tassia Kobylinska, Goldsmiths UCU
Thanks to Sussex UCU

Have you set your out-of-office message yet?

I am not able to check email today as members of xxxx UCU are taking industrial action, along with members at 73 other universities, in opposition to threats to our pension, deteriorating conditions and pay inequalities [amend as necessary]. Members of xxxx UCU will be on strike on the following days: Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February, Monday 24 through to Wednesday 26 February, Monday 2 through to Thursday 5 March, and Monday 9 through to Friday 13 March [amend as necessary]. If you would like more information about the dispute please go here and here [amend as necessary], and do contact my vice-chancellor, xxxx,, to find out what steps the institution is taking to avoid a dispute. 

2020 Teach-Out Schedules

SOAS schedule

Queen Mary UCU

Goldsmiths schedule

Newcastle UCU

Liverpool schedule

Music for the picket line

UCU strike lgbtq + disco (with thanks to Kirsteen Paton)

GU Collective’s 30 songs for UCU picket lines on Spotify

Liverpool UCU strike playlist

Birmingham Law strike playlist

We are the University strike playlist (Grace Krause)

UCL -IOE UCU strike playlist

Rosa Campbell’s Strike songs playlist on Spotify 

Leah Chan’s playlist for 2019 UCU strikes on Spotify

10 best union songs of all time (thanks to CBC)

Protest in Harmony (Edinburgh UCU) songsheet

Strike handbooks & guidance for members

KCL Student strike FAQs

Really comprehensive guide to strike activities and advice from Exeter UCU and Bristol UCU

Sheffield Hallam UCU

Comprehensive guide from the National Union of Students (February 2020) to supporting the strikes

James Sumner’s 2020 strike handbook

Sheffield UCU detailed guidance for members (2019)

Effective strike participation guidance (Jo McNeill)

Leicester UCU strike handbook (2019)

Sussex UCU Tumblr site (2019) (filled with goodies)

Guidance for autistic workers and UCU branches (produced by Anna Nibbs, Sheffield UCU, and Janine Booth, TUC Disabled Workers Committee)

Rallies/marches/events

South West Region Strike Rally and March, Wednesday 26 February, Meet 11am at the Victoria Rooms, 88 Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol

LONDON DEMONSTRATION: THE MONEY’S THERE, WHERE’S OUR SHARE?MARCH FROM UCEA/UUK TO USS IN THE CITY, 12 noon,Wednesday 26 February, Tavistock Square, WC1

Southampton Solidarity Rally, 12.30pm Wednesday 26 February, Jubilee Plaza (Highfield)

UCU Scotland Strike Rally: 11.30am, Tuesday 25 February, Bristol Square, Edinburgh

London Strike Solidarity Assembly, 6.30pm Tuesday 25 February, Imperial Hotel, 61 Russell Square (with John McDonnell, Mark Serwotka, Jane Loftus, Lowkey & others)

Information about local hardship funds (from 2019)

Exeter UCU

Goldsmiths UCU

Leeds UCU

Strathclyde UCU

Liverpool UCU

York UCU

Cambridge UCU

Stirling UCU

Heriot-Watt UCU

Bangor UCU

Open University UCU

Pay deductions

See Andrew Chitty’s googledoc for up to date pay deductions in relation to the November/December strikes. Effectively, as of January 2020, most universities chose to deduct pay over one or two months. To the best of our knowledge, only eight institutions agreed to deductions spread over three monthsUSS Briefs have compiled a dossier of communications from vice-chancellors which contains some of this information. (Please email branchsolidaritynetwork@gmail.com for updates on whether your branch has been able to negotiate staggered deductions). 

Goldsmiths UCU has issued some guidance to members in the light of its management’s refusal initially to spread deductions which contains some interesting proposals. Following pressure, management agreed to deduct pay over two months but in April and May 2020, i.e. five months after the action in order to allow members to prepare.

Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) information for UCU branches in dispute

Members taking part in strike action over pensions, pay and equalities are also engaged in action short of a strike (ASOS) that started on 25 November. This will be especially important now that we have returned to work and there is pressure to reschedule classes and to pick up additional responsibilities following the strike. Just take a look at what Liverpool University is threatening its staff with! We need to resist this pressure and to insist on no deductions for working to contract. However, many employers are still “reserving the right” to deduct for ASOS and branches need to defend members at risk of deductions for engaging in ASOS. We offer information below about what ASOS consists of and how we should respond to threats from the employers.

What is ASOS?

ASOS pay deductions and how to resist

#USSbriefs87 by Andrew Chitty, Felicity Callard and Leon Rocha

Has every employer threatened to deduct pay for engaging in ASOS?

No – Sheffield University, for example, have stated that “we will not deduct any pay from staff who participate in this type of action” (see screenshot below). We encourage all branches to apply pressure on those institutions who take a hard line on ASOS – for example through lobbies, petitions, liaising with external examiners and so on- and to call for urgent meetings with HR. A number of institutions have declared that they will not deduct pay for taking part in ASOS including Southampton, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Kent, Ulster and St Andrews. Others, including Goldsmiths, have said that “Staff will not have salary deducted for working to contract”.

via Sheffield UCU

Guidance on ASOS and how to respond to requests to take part in voluntary activities

Leicester UCU’s guidance on how to deal with ASOS queries and “how to respond (nicely!) to volunteer” is invaluable.

Guidance from Goldsmiths UCU and Ulster UCU are also useful.

This is a great thread from Vian Bakir of Bangor UCU on what ASOS involves.

ASOS for hourly-paid staff

Letter to Head of Department from a Graduate Teaching Assistant (via @hopehakes)

What’s the legal opinion on deducting pay for taking part in ASOS?

Read this post from legal academics on ‘deductions for action short of a strike’

Detailed information from UCU

UCU information on working to contract

What does ‘action short of a strike’ mean for academic-related and professional services staff?

#UCUStrikesBack: picket lines are go

Music for the picket line

GU Collective’s 30 songs for UCU picket lines on Spotify

Liverpool UCU strike playlist

Birmingham Law strike playlist

We are the University strike playlist (Grace Krause)

UCL -IOE UCU strike playlist

Rosa Campbell’s Strike songs playlist on Spotify 

Leah Chan’s playlist for 2019 UCU strikes on Spotify

10 best union songs of all time (thanks to CBC)

Protest in Harmony (Edinburgh UCU) songsheet

Information about local hardship funds

Exeter UCU

Goldsmiths UCU

Leeds UCU

Strathclyde UCU

Liverpool UCU

York UCU

Cambridge UCU

Stirling UCU

Heriot-Watt UCU

Bangor UCU

Open University UCU

Pay deductions

See Andrew Chitty’s Twitter thread about pay deductions. Effectively, as of 26 November, most universities are following UCEA guidance and deducting pay in a single month. Only City, Cambridge, Essex, Queen Mary and Royal Holloway have agreed to deductions spread over three months starting January 2020 (as far as we know). USS Briefs have compiled a dossier of communications from vice-chancellors which contains this information.

Goldsmiths UCU has issued some guidance to members in the light of its management’s refusal to spread deductions which contains some interesting proposals.

Picketing Excellence Framework

Thanks to Southampton UCU

Strike handbooks

This is how to picket