Covid-19: UCU response and guidance

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the UCU national executive committee (NEC) resolved on Friday to take steps to ensure the safety of staff and students in all the sectors we represent.

These steps have become all the more urgent in light of the government’s newly announced advice, including to avoid all unnecessary travel and work from home where possible.

I am writing to heads of institutions in the further and higher education sectors and to the secretary of state for education, setting out UCU’s priorities for protecting staff and ensuring that they do not suffer any detriments in their pay or working conditions as a result of the outbreak. I have also written to employers in prison education* on behalf of our members in that sector.

In brief, UCU is asking that employers:

  • take immediate steps to shut down their institutions’ core functions
  • institute a pause before asking staff to move teaching and other face to face activities online, for consultation with UCU and avoidance of any costs to staff or detriments to their working conditions
  • provide clear guidance, agreed with UCU, about working from home
  • pay staff on temporary, fixed-term and other casual contracts in line with their typical duties, irrespective of any interruption
  • acknowledge their statutory health and safety obligations and the rights of staff to take action to protect themselves and their students.

At the same time we have also taken legal advice and produced guidance for members on coronavirus and their rights at work. For more general information on your rights at work, click here.

We are also producing further advice to branches on the demands which they should be making of their employers, which will be circulated to officers in your branch soon. Finally, we will also be making announcements about UCU events that are scheduled to take place over the next few months.

I will be in touch with regular updates as the outbreak develops.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Resolution calling on the OVC to demonstrate its commitment to genuine consultation: 3rd of May 2017

  1. UCU Negotiating Committee calls on OVC to demonstrate its commitment to genuine consultation on the MARS document by:

 

  1. a) agreeing a schedule of meetings in May and June 2017 with UCU and UNISON representatives
  2. b) completing this schedule of meetings and considering all the points made by both unions before moving to implement any aspect of the document
  3. c) advising Deans, Directors and line managers of all staff of a) and b) above

 

 

  1. UCU Negotiating Committee calls on OVC to demonstrate its commitment to genuine consultation on ‘The Wolverhampton Academic’ proposals by:

 

  1. a) agreeing a schedule of meetings in May and June 2017 with UCU representatives
  2. b) completing this schedule of meetings and considering all the points made by UCU before moving to implement any aspect of the document
  3. c) withdrawing the VC’s videos from circulation
  4. d) advising Deans and line managers of academics of a) to c) above

Resolutions passed unanimously: Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) & ‘The Wolverhampton Academic’

As you can see below, we are expecting a formal response by May 22nd to the following two resolutions; this is in addition to the expected response to the resolutions that we informed you about yesterday, regarding the consultation process relating to the two documents.

UCU Regional Officials have indicated to us that until the OVC has engaged in meaningful and productive consultation with UCU, members should be advised not to comply with any of the initiatives contained within either of the OVC documents. Please get in contact with your UCU faculty rep if you come under pressure to do so. We will keep members updated on developments.

 

Yesterday, UCU Negotiating Committee notified the Offices of the Vice Chancellor of the following resolutions

which were unanimously passed at the emergency meeting of May 3rd:

 

UCU Negotiating Committee Emergency Meeting Wednesday 3 May 2017

Resolutions passed unanimously

  1. Mutually Agreed Resignation scheme (MARS)

UCU Negotiating Committee notes the contents of the Mutually Agreed Resignation scheme proposals and finds the document as it stands unacceptable. We believe that the intention of the employers is to bypass their legal responsibilities with respect to redundancy and avoid the requirement to consult with trades unions. We seek answers from OVC to the following questions as a matter of urgency so that we can report back to branches no later than 22 May 2017.

  1. What is the exact definition of ‘restructures’ on p. 1?
  2. What is the exact definition of ‘organisational change activities’ on p. 1?
  3. What will be the exact contents of the ‘Settlement Agreement’ on p. 2? Does it include a gagging clause?
  4. How will the avoidance of less favourable treatment (p. 1) be monitored?
  5. What are the financial and other benefits to the University of using this scheme rather than paying statutory redundancy?
  6. Would employees leaving the University under this scheme be better-off financially than if they were made compulsorily redundant?
  7.       Has the scheme been trialled already in any part of the University? If so, has it been evaluated and what are the conclusions of that evaluation?

 

  1. ‘The Wolverhampton Academic’

UCU Negotiating Committee rejects the Wolverhampton Academic paper and regrets that the intentions behind it were not discussed with UCU before the document was finalised and published to Deans, Associate Deans and Heads of Department.

Notwithstanding verbal assurances from Ian Oakes, the DVC who presented it to UCU at a meeting on 28 March 2017, that there is no intention to change lecturers’ contractual terms and conditions, the document needs substantial amendment before that claim can be justified.

We seek the following changes as a matter of urgency.  We are due to report back to branches no later than 22 May.

  1. All obligatory training to be accounted for under Non-specific Duties and not under SMRSA
  2. Confirmation that the definition of SMRSA is as contained in our contract
  3. The term ‘Enterprise’ to be removed from the role profiles section
  4. A peer system rather than a hierarchical system of classroom observation to be reinstated.
  5. The appraisal system to remain developmental and not judgmental
  6. The requirement to inform line managers when working off campus to be removed.
  7. The divisive and quasi-performance-related pay scheme on pp. 10-11 to be removed from the document
  8. The entitlement to 20 working days continuous leave between June and September to be explicitly protected

 

Sent on behalf of the UCU Negotiating Committee, University of Wolverhampton

Newsletter February 2016 and survey

Here is the Newsletter February 2016

You will read in the UCU newsletter about the very concerning levels of sickness at the University.  UCU have been pushing OVC and HR to act promptly to find remedies for this.  Please complete a short survey set by UCU to give your views on measures that would help to reduce sickness.  We will convey your views to the Safety Policy Committee in March, which has been convened to discuss this issue.

The survey is available on-line

The survey also asks or your views on the Faculty Administrative Review, the new academic calendar and your priorities for UCU.

UCU at the University of Wolverhampton denounce the threat of compulsory redundancy

PRESS RELEASE
Date: 16th June 2015
For immediate release

The University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Wolverhampton have condemned outright the University management’s decision to target Professors for redundancy. The Vice-Chancellor (VC) announced to Professors on 19th May that a restructure of the Professoriate had started at the University. The “Professoriate capacity restructure” paper states that, following the REF results, up to 19 Professors in 4 areas (Computing, Engineering, Built Environment, Law) will be made redundant by the end of July 2015, as their units of assessments have been deemed under-performing. This is a brutal attack on academic staff.

UCU met with the VC and the Director of HR and made it clear that to them that there is no genuine redundancy situation, as the tasks the Professors do will not vanish after they are made redundant. The Vice-Chancellor stated, ‘’this is not a cost-saving exercise’’, but gave the reduction in funding for the targeted areas, following the 2014 REF, as the reason for the ‘restructuring’. Senior management at the University have previously made commitments to contribute to the regional development of STEM subjects in the local area and further, and to drive STEM subjects forward as they have been seen to be neglected for too long. UCU express concern that the proposal to reduce the number of senior research staff in Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment is contrary to this strategy. Furthermore, it appears directly at odds with recent announcements that the University is investing £250 million in capital projects including new sites for the Built Environment and expansion of Engineering. These proposed redundancies are thus diametrically opposed to the investment strategy. Investment in buildings whilst disinvesting in senior academic leadership suggests people working at the university are of secondary importance.

When UCU raised concerns about the reputational risk to the institution of losing members of staff who are involved in, for example, research projects, work with local industries, and PhD supervision, the VC said, ‘we will manage the reputational risk’. The union asked senior management to reconsider but they are pushing ahead with targeting individuals with compulsory redundancy over the next few weeks.

Local contact details
Cécile Hatier (UCU City campus) c.hatier@wlv.ac.uk
Catherine Lamond (UCU Walsall campus) c.lamond@wlv.ac.uk

National contacts
Dan Ashley (UCU) 020 7756 2600; mobile: 07789 518 992; email: dashley@ucu.org.uk

Working to Contract

From the 1st of November 2013 all members are being called to begin action short of a strike in the form of working to contract. Working to contract is action short of a strike but it is not breach of contract and it does not constitute partial performance. We are asking members to observe their contracts strictly and withdraw goodwill.

UCU have produced comprehensive advice about this on their website:

http://www.ucu.org.uk/workingtocontract

If you have any questions about this please contact your School rep in the first instance.