Members Update – 13 January 20: Branch Meeting | PI Accounts

USS/Four Fights Branch Meeting

We are holding a Branch Meeting on Wednesday 22 January from 13:30 – 14:30 to discuss the next set of proposed strike dates. General Secretary Jo Grady sent out an email Friday, gathering members thoughts about the next steps for Four Fights, and what the next action should look like for both disputes. Members will note that our motion to HE Sector Conference was amended at the conference (there were a few amendments that set specific dates), and the proposed dates are Thursday 20th, Friday 21st, Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th February; Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th, Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th, Friday 13th March.

We will have a guest speaker, and updates from Unison about the In-Sourcing campaign.

There is a national activists meeting on Saturday 25 January called by London Region and full details can be found here: https://uculondonregion.wordpress.com/2019/12/20/national-ucu-activist-meeting-25-january/

Vacancy on Branch Committee

Sadly, Emma Sheppard left City at the end of December for a permanent role at Coventry University, which means we have a vacancy for our Anti-Casualisation Officer post on the committee. This comes with a small amount of facility time that can be used to release you from duties or be paid as additional hours. You are eligible to hold the position if your: main employment is casualised, or you have, in the two years prior to nomination, been in casualised employment as your main employment.

Expressions of interest with a short statement of 250 words can be sent to me for co-option (deadline 31 January) at the next committee meeting (February).

Updates:

We have been alerted to a new policy for Principal Investigator accounts containing funds accumulated from research projects which can be used at the Researcher’s discretion (please email info@cityucu.org.uk for a copy). The change involves time-limits on funds and adds additional constraints to how these funds can be spent. The changes were not negotiated at the JCNB (Joint Consultative Negotiating Board) and we are challenging the 3-year limits on funds-use on equality grounds, and asking for further information on what is happening with historic funds.

If you have a PI account, please read through the new policy and your concerns to info@cityucu.org.uk. Your experience with PI accounts will strengthen our ability to challenge these changes. There may also be something in particular that we can help with in your case.

Back From the Pickets

A big and sincere thank you to our members for coming out these past 8 strike days and making this some of the most well attended strike action we have ever had.

Action Sort of Strike (ASOS) and Working to Contract

Returning to work means we move to action sort of strike. The Union has publish comprehensive guidance which can be found here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/working-to-contract. It has suggestions about what you should do if your contract does not explicitly state contracted hours or if you are hourly paid.

We will have some further guidance shortly for HPVL/GTA staff, as well as further information about revising assessments.

Some suggested text to include in your email signature is as follows:

Please note that I am currently taking Action Short of a Strike as part of the University and College Union’s (UCU) industrial action to defend our right to a fair pension, for real progress on closing the gender pay gap, and stopping the abuse of casualised contracts in Higher Education. Response times may be slower for the duration of the dispute, especially outside of normal working hours. Please support university staff by writing to university management asking them to resume negotiations with UCU immediately. https://www.ucu.org.uk/studentvoice *

*If most of your emails are with staff members you could include:

You can donate to our local fighting fund that supports members who have lost pay for taking strike action: UCU City LA14 Hardship Fund           Account: 20324559     Sort code: 60-83-01

As we return to work it is important to remember that there are a variety of reasons members who take strike action don’t attend pickets, but one of the results of striking alone is that some members will be feeling isolated. Please talk to one another in order to retain and extend the solidarity and collective strength of the picket-lines. But also, practically, to discuss ASOS and strategies to fight victimisation by management.

If you feel able, we encourage you to hold informal departmental or group meetings about how to manage ASOS in your area. If you would like a member of the committee to attend a local departmental meeting you have arrange please email us info@cityucu.org.uk and we will arrange this.

If you hear of any threats of deductions, please report these immediately to us the Branch Officers.

We have strength as a collective, and it is important for us to continue this collective strength on our return.

Declaring Strike Action

If you are asked directly by your manager or HR then you should proudly declare that you took strike action and the days you took the action. We do not consider all staff emails about the pro-forma that were sent before and during the strike as requests we have to respond to. If a week has passed and you still have not been directly asked if you took strike action, we would then suggest completing the pro-forma that Mary Luckiram sent by Friday 13th December.

The university conceded to split deductions across 3 months, but there were other requests we made about deductions that we do not feel were honoured. There is therefore no incentive for us to assist management in carrying out their responsibility on this matter and see no reason for members to meet the very short deadline of the 6th December, given that we have just been on strike for 8 days, and our priorities will be managing students’ expectations, replying to their queries, and looking at what can be done about content missed for assessments. Some of us may also have urgent research or other deadlines.

Action from the pickets

For those that weren’t on the WhatsApp groups we have included a few highlights from our pickets, with special thanks to Robert Byford (https://www.photoblog.com/solidarity/category/ucu-strike-2019/) who captured some incredible pictures of our rally with the General Secretary, and students, some of which made the Financial Times.

General Secretary Jo Grady and members after lunch time rally in the rain

City UCU Pikcet Line at Gray’s Inn Place

City UCU members at Myddleton Building picket line.

City UCu members at Rhind Building picket

City UCU members at Centenary Building picket

City UCU members at Cass Business School

City UCU members at College Building picket

Health & Safety Rep Stan modelling his work place stress t-shirt

City UCU President Keith speaking at lunch time rally