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Action on Pay – UCU and Joint Unions National Pay Claim 2016/17

Action on Pay – UCU and Joint Unions National Pay Claim 2016/17

Background – The FE England Joint Trade Unions submitted their 2016/17 claim to the Association of Colleges (AoC) on 26 April 2016. The heads of claim were:

  • An increase of £1 extra per hour for all staff
  • All Colleges to ensure fair pay for women by conducting Equal Pay Audits or reviewing any existing Audits; identifying any gender pay gap; and constructing an Action Plan with the Trade Unions locally to eliminate any such gaps.
  • Hourly paid, temporary, fixed-term or casual staff working in a college for more than two years to be offered a permanent post on a pro-rata basis that is commensurate with the hours they actually work.
  • The starting rates to be no lower than the Living Wage Foundation rates of £8.25 outside of London and £9.40 in London with annual up rating. Colleges to work to become Living Wage Foundation accredited.

The second meeting of the National Joint Forum the 2016/17 pay round, originally scheduled for 5 July but postponed, was held on 21 September. The AoC addressed all four elements of the trade unions’ claim in the following manner:

Living wage“The pay arrangements in many colleges are already equivalent to or greater than the Living Wage Foundation rates. Where this is not the case, colleges should consider strategies to address this as part of an overall review of reward, employment offering and job design. The decision on whether or not to formalise accreditation is a matter for individual colleges based on their particular circumstances.”

Casual Employment – “It is recommended the colleges continue to regularly review their establishment flexibility ratios to ensure they continue to reflect and plan for the changing business and operating environment and keeping the requirements of the regulations in mind. Similarly, in line with the regulations and any existing agreements, colleges should identify any staff who have been employed on fixed term contracts of four years or more and take any appropriate action needed.It is suggested that a joint working group be formed to develop models of good practice.”

Gender pay Gap – “As responsible employers, it is recommended that colleges review their existing audits or make use of NJF’S agreed toolkit to identify and assure themselves that males and females undertaking exactly the same work are paid equally. Where gaps are identified or there is potential for a pay gap to develop, colleges should seek to identify and address the matter through an action plan and consult with staff and workforce representatives on the plan and its implementation.

It should be noted that for the majority of colleges this is a routine action for HR functions who will undertake such activities in the general course of their work.”

Pay“In line with the headline pay recommendations in public services for 2016/17, AoC will recommend the following to its members:

1% applied to all points or £250 where this is more beneficial (typically salaries below £25,000). Where an award is made and affordable, colleges should implement with effect from either August 1, their usual ‘award’ date where this is not August 1 or at the nearest available date thereafter subject to local conditions.”

It can be seen that despite protracted negotiation period the AoC final offer falls far short of addressing the substantive losses in pay of the FE sector. Importantly AoC recommendations are not binding on any college. The National FE Committee is currently collating feedback from UCU branches (as of October 13) and will meet to discuss any further actions.

The Trade Union Act – May 2016

The Trade Union Act 2016

The Trade Union Bill has been said to contribute to the already most draconian anti-trade union legislation of any western country. Thought much diminished in its original scope it is now passed into legislation as the Trade Union Act. (May 2016)

Implementation timetable

Although the Act will not come into force immediately: some of its provisions require further legislation in the form of regulations which need to be made before they can be implemented. The remaining provisions require the Government to set a date for their implementation, which they have yet to do. Therefore, the implementation timetable is currently unclear. However, we expect phased implementation to commence this year with some changes, such as to check-off, to be delayed until 2017.

Key changes under the Act in overview

Balloting

  • A strike ballot must currently have the support of a simple majority of those voting. The Act introduces a new minimum voter turnout (i.e. that at least 50% of those entitled to vote do so) and an additional minimum support threshold applying in some Important Public Services (IPS) (i.e. that at least 40% of those entitled to vote must vote ‘yes’).
  • Important public services include parts of the fire, health, education, transport, border control and nuclear services and include some private sector workers. Further regulations will be made providing the details. NB whether education and what parts of it are seen to be IPS will be subject to further discussion.
  • The 40% support is triggered where the majority of workers are normally engaged in the provision of IPS. It does not cover ancillary workers engaged in IPS activities, as initially proposed. A trade union will have a ‘reasonable belief’ defence if it mistakenly breaches the 40% requirement.
  • The ballot voting paper must carry more information, including a summary of the matters in dispute and the periods within which the action is expected to take place.
  • Notice of industrial action to the employer is doubling to fourteen days (unless the employer agrees to seven days’ notice).
  • Currently, industrial action must take place within four to eight weeks of the ballot and action can be taken indefinitely, provided the dispute remains live. This is repealed and the Act provides that a ballot mandate expires after six months, or up to nine months if both sides agree.
  • Against its wishes, the Act requires the Government to conduct an independent review of electronic balloting for strike ballots. However, there is no legal commitment to its introduction.

Picketing, facility time, check-off and the Certification Officer

  • Parts of the Code of Practice on Picketing become legally enforceable, including the requirement to appoint a picket supervisor who is identifiable when present at the picketing location.
  • Public sector employers and some in the private sector (i.e. those with functions of a public nature and mainly public funded) with at least one trade union official will be required to publish facility time information, such as the amount spent on paid time off for union duties and activities. This change will not be introduced until further regulations, including defining which employers are included, have been made. The Act provides also for the possibility of future regulations limiting the amount and cost of facility time, should a particular employer’s facility time be a cause for concern.
  • While the check-off ban has gone, the changes still require affected employers to make arrangements to recover costs from their trade unions. Some charities, housing associations and similar employers, where they carry out public functions and receive public funding, will also be concerned to understand more clearly from the Government whether they fall under the facility time and check-off changes.
  • The Act introduces new powers for the Certification Officer (CO) to investigate and take enforcement action, including the imposition of financial penalties, against trade unions for breaches of their statutory duties. There will be changes to the annual returns filed by unions with the CO, including a requirement to set out details of any industrial action taken.

Finally, it should be noted that the Government announced last year a repeal of the ban on employers from hiring agency staff to provide cover during strikes. This change is not part of the Act and there is no further news on timing.

Comment

It is anticipated that the new ballot thresholds will focus trade union minds, for example, resulting in more strategic balloting where unions lack confidence in voter turnout or the level of support (in important public services ballots).

Higher Education Dispute – Second round of Strike Action

Members of University and College Union branches across the country will be taking local strike action in the following weeks and university branches here in the South West will be taking part in this action on whichever days are deemed by them to have the most effect on employers. This follows a two day national strike in May and ongoing working to contract. The escalation is the result of a continued refusal by employers to address years of falling pay, gender inequality and worsening casualisation in Higher Education.

Branches of course seek maximum publicity for these actions and encourage all trade unionists to contact them and offer practical support or messages of solidarity. This page will be updated with actions across the South West Region and contact details for those branches. You can share this page using the tinyurl http://tinyurl.com/fpinhesw (Fair Pay In HE South West) or by using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the foot of this page.

The University of Bath UCU Branch – Friday 17 June, 2016 – Strike and Boycott of Open Day

Full details can be found on the branches excellent web page posting here: http://bath.web.ucu.org.uk/2016/06/12/industrial-action-2016-faqs/

Contact the branch here: bathucu@gmail.com  or @UCUBath

Pickets infographic (printable version): http://bath.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2013/01/University-of-Bath-Open-Day-Strike-1.png

The Bristol University UCU Branch – Friday 17 June, 2016 – Strike and Boycott

Staff at Bristol have timed their action to hit open days for potential students and their parents. Staff will lobby parents and students as they arrive to explain more about the union’s campaign for fair pay and better conditions.

Bristol union members will also be on picket lines from 8.30am outside the university at the junction of Woodland Road and Tyndall Avenue. They will also be holding a rally outside Senate House at 10:30am.

To contact them email Bristol Uni Union Office mailto:ucu-office@bristol.ac.uk

Please send messages of support via Twitter to @Bristol_UCU, using the hashtag #fairpayinhe.

The Oxford Brookes University UCU Branch – Friday 24 June, 2016 – Strike and Information Sharing

Oxford Brookes UCU members have decided to strike on one of the University’s main graduation days. They will speak directly with parents and students in order to inform them about the union’s campaign for fair pay, gender equality, and improved conditions.

Full details can be found on the branch website here: http://oxfordbrookes.web.ucu.org.uk/

Contact the branch here: cvergerio@ucu.org.uk  or @BrookesUCU 

The Plymouth University UCU Branch – Wednesday 22 June, 2016 – Strike and Boycott of Open Day and Assessment Panels

Staff at Plymouth have timed their action to hit the open day for potential students and their parents but also Assessment Panels. Staff will lobby parents and students as they arrive to explain more about the union’s campaign for fair pay and better conditions.

Plymouth union members will be on picket lines from 8.30am outside of Portland Square opposite The Cuba Cafe.

You can contact the branch using the email ucu@plymouth.ac.uk

Please send messages of support via Twitter to @UCU, using the hashtag #fairpayinhe.

The University of Falmouth UCU Branch – Thursday 30 June 2016 – Strike – Protest

UCU members at The University of Falmouth will picket at University College Falmouth, Woodlane, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4RH

You can contact the branch via the Branch Secretary Tom Ingate – mailto:tom.ingate@falmouth.ac.uk

Please send messages of support via Twitter to @UCU, using the hashtag #fairpayinhe.

The Bath Spa University UCU Branch – Tuesday 5 July, 2016 – Strike and Boycott

Staff at Bath Spa have timed their action to hit a university-wide Staff Development Day. Bath Spa UCU members will also be on a picket line from 8am outside the main gate of the Newton Park campus.

To contact them email Bath Spa UCU branch: ucu@bathspa.ac.uk

The University of the South West of England – Tuesday 5 July, 2016 – Strike

Staff at UWE will strike for the second time on Tuesday 5 July, 2016. There will be a rally at the College Green, Bristol from 11am.

To contact the branch email Branch Secretary Nicky Goodall nicky.goodall@ucwe.ac.uk

The University of St Mark and St John (Marjon), Plymouth – Thursday 7 July, 2016 – Strike and Boycott of University Progression and Awards Boards (PAB)

Staff at Marjon will strike for the second time as part of the National Pay Dispute. Members will withdraw all labour for that day, boycott university events and picket from 7:30am – 3:00pm

For information issued by the University about strike action: http://staffnews/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=3862

To contact the branch email Branch Secretary Michael Hall mhall@marjon.ac.uk

The University of Exeter – Monday 11 July, 2016 – Strike

Staff at the University of Exeter will strike on this day. There will be pickets at Stocker Road and Queen’s Drive entrances. Pickets will start at 7:45am and continue through until after 3:00pm. The branch welcomes visitors to the picket in solidarity.

To contact the branch email Branch Secretary Barrie Cooper B.Cooper@exeter.ac.uk

Arts University Bournemouth – Tuesday 12 July, 2016 – Strike

Staff at the Arts University Bournemouth will strike on this day. The strike coincides with the School Executive Board. The branch welcomes visitors to the picket in solidarity. Arts University Bournemouth is along the road from Bournemouth University on Fern Barrow, Wallisdown, Poole BH12 5HH

For more information please contact branch secretary Christian Edwardes  cedwardes@aub.ac.uk

FE Strike Ballot Opens

FE Strike Ballot 2015 Opens

The last FE News announced that colleges in England had been written to and asked to confirm that they would meet our 2015-16 claim of an increase in pay of £1 per working hour for staff at all points. Colleges were given until noon 11 September to confirm that they would meet our claim. Colleges that did not agree to meet our pay claim have now received notice that UCU will be balloting its members on taking strike action over a failure to agree a pay increase for 2015/16. The ballot opened Monday 28 September and will close 12 noon on Thursday 15 October.

(read more in FE News)

(Industrial Action Frequently Asked Questions)

In the light of current legislation is more important than ever to ensure that we DO have the correct details recorded for you. You can check and amend your union record now online at: https://members.ucu.org.uk/

If you don’t vote others will make a decision for you!

Ballot papers will be delivered to your home address. If you haven’t received your ballot paper by Friday 2 October please notify us that you need a duplicate by filling in the online form at https://www.ucu.org.uk/nofeballot.

NB – Notifications regarding subscriptions have recently gone out. If you did not received yours please check your record as we may not have your correct postal address and you will not receive a ballot paper.

FE Pay Dispute 2015 FAQs

Strike FAQs and guidelines on picketing

If you have a question that is not answered here, please email your branch secretary or campaigns@ucu.org.uk . We will do our best to reply to you and/or update this FAQ.

1. What am I expected to do during a strike?
2. Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?
3 . What about my students?
4. Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?
5. How much money will I lose?
6. What if I am part time?
7. How will it affect my pension?
8. What is the law on picketing?
9. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?
10. I am a Research Fellow fully funded by external bodies but I don’t want to cross the picket line.(HE)
11. I am a clinician and a UCU member, and I have clinical commitments on strike day. What can I do? (HE)

1. What am I expected to do during a strike?

Your union will only take strike action once every other avenue of influence has been exhausted and when your branch officers think there is no other way to make members’ views clear. It is a very serious sanction and that’s why we ask that every member observes the strike. Every member who does not observe the strike is directly undermining the union’s bargaining power and making it harder for the union to protect all its members.

When we call a strike we ask that members do not come into work and do not reschedule their classes. The best possible thing you can do is contact your local rep and volunteer to help out on the picket lines. It isn’t illegal, it isn’t dangerous and it can be fun.

2. Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?

In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about UCU members taking industrial action, but not individual names. You are under no obligation to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action or action short of a strike. However, if your manager asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully.

3 . What about my students?

We are a union of professionals and we know that our members don’t like taking any action that affects students. It is the same for many public services. However, when we take action, we are generally making a case for greater investment in or defence of the quality of the service we provide. In the case of job cuts, for example, we argue that our students will be hurt far more by management’s actions than by our own. Observing the strike is defending the interests of staff and students alike. Undermining the strike might feel like the right thing in the short term but will only serve to encourage management and we will all suffer more in the longer term.

Formally, it is management’s responsibility to explain to students if classes are to be cancelled on strike days. However, you may wish to talk to your students before the strikes explaining why the union is taking this action. We will have a leaflet available explaining to students why we feel it is necessary to take action. Ask your rep for copies.

4. Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

All effective industrial action may be a breach of your contract of employment. But because UCU has carried out a statutory ballot and the action has been formally called, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action or at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances, dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.

5. How much money will I lose?

You should expect to have a day’s salary deducted for taking part in the strike. Some institutions state that 1/260th of your annual salary will be deducted for each day of action. Any loss greater than this can be challenged by the union.

6. What if I am part time?

UCU believe that any deduction must be pro-rata for part time staff. The deduction must only be for your contracted hours. Please contact UCU for support in challenging any greater loss.

7. How will it affect my pension?

In previous one-day strikes it has been the experience of UCU that most university employers do not withhold superannuation contributions and therefore participation in strike action has not generally affected pensions. Also, institutions that do choose to withhold contributions often make provision for members to make up pension and AVC deficits from their pay. If you are concerned about any effect, contact Geraldine Egan at UCU (gegan@ucu.org.uk).

8. What is the law on picketing?

Peaceful picketing is entirely legal. Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a site at which the pickets work. When others who are not in dispute come into work or use these entrances or exits, pickets must not interfere with them.

The legal categories of people permitted to picket are:

  • UCU members in dispute
  • UCU officials and NEC members supporting members in dispute, providing they are accompanying union members who work at the location.
  •  Visitors to the picket are entirely lawful but should not form an official part of the pickets and should not, for example, be given armbands.
  • Further detailed advice on the picket lines should be issued separately.

9. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

We would like everyone to respect the picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a UCU member we will not be able to support you if the college decides to take disciplinary action against you. However, it is your general support that counts—if you can get permission from your line manager to take annual leave or work from home, this would be support.

10. I am a Research Fellow fully funded by external bodies but I don’t want to cross the picket line.(HE)

If you are a UCU member please join the picket line! If you are not, try to arrange to work from home.

11. I am a clinician and a UCU member, and I have clinical commitments on strike day. What can I do? (HE)

We fully understand that clinical staff including medics and psychologists have professional commitments to provide clinical cover. Clinicians are advised not to withdraw from any commitment to direct clinical care and activities in support of such. Any clinician concerned about the definition of these terms is advised to contact their own professional defence organisation, and ask them to contact the relevant professional body (eg the GMC) on their behalf. The UCU will therefore respect this. A clinician who intends to strike should be aware that this will only count as lawful action as part of the UCU strike and if s/he is a UCU member.

South West Region Caption Competition

We had a bumper crop of suggestions for our caption competition and the ones which fit for publication can be seen on our regional blog. The six winners who all win a UCU mug and a UCU badge are: Nicholas Thom, Exeter College, Julian Lewis, University of Bath, Brian Griffin, Bath College, Matthew Bridge, City of Bristol College, Richard Hobson, Cornwall College and Jonathan Ellis, Plymouth University.

The short link to this article is http://tinyurl.com/ucusw22

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UCU go to Tolpuddle (2015)

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers.  At the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to transportation to Australia.

They became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organised a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and they were released in 1836. Four of the six returned to England.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival is held annually, in the third week of July and is organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). It features a parade of banners, debates, speeches and music.

If you want to come with us next year or want to find out more email Dave O’Toole, dotoole(at)ucu.org.uk  

Short link http://tinyurl.com/ucusw21

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South West Region #LOVEFE Rally and Campaign Saturday 27 June

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South West Region #LOVEFE Rally and Campaign Saturday 27 June, 12:00 noon.

There will be a South West Region #LOVEFE rally and campaign in Plymouth at the Plymouth Civic Centre at 12 noon on Saturday 27 June. This will kick off a series of #LOVEFE events and stunts across the South West Region. If you want to be involved please email dotoole@ucu.org.uk  and bookmark this page to find out details as they unfold.

Speakers

Nick Varney – Regional Official UCU
Steve Allen – UCU Further Education Committee and City College Plymouth Lecturer
Sean Gibson – Unison Rep and professional support staff City College Plymouth
Ben Smith – Student, City College Plymouth
Mike Sparling – Plymouth Labour Councillor
Alison Chapman – Lecturer City College Plymouth and UCU rep
Michael Carley  – UCU President Bath University and UCU Regional Committee UCU
Sullivan The Poet – Plymouth’s Poet Laureate

A5 Poster here LOVEFE 27 June Plymouth A5 leaflet V0

Please invite your Facebook Friends here: https://www.facebook.com/events/395957853920916/

And “like” the Rally here: https://www.facebook.com/lovefeplymouth?fref=ts

And follow our twitter page here: https://twitter.com/lovefeplymouth

Travel

Trains run regularly from Exeter to Plymouth. See here:

Train times Exeter – Plymouth

It is 13 minutes walk from Plymouth Railway Station to the Civic Centre Map

Civic Centre Car Park

Address and Postcode (for walkers) Plymouth City Council, Civic Centre, Armada Way, PLYMOUTH, PL1 9ST

Book your seat on the coach – Lobby of parliament Tuesday 16 June 2015

Outside-Parliament-funding-cuts-demo-18th-March-2015-3-700x400   This is a lobby of Parliament by Further Education lecturers and UCU members but anyone who will be affected is welcome. Pick-up points and times are now CONFIRMED based on a schedule which collects staff from the following college sites and arrives in good time for the lobby at 2:00pm.

Please bookmark this page…

Pickup times are based on a best estimate by the coach company, so please arrive in good time at your pick-up point. Book your place on the coach by emailing dotoole(at)ucu.org.uk.

Journey Out

St Austell – Cornwall College, St Austell Campus – PL25 4DJ (6:00 am)
Plymouth – City College Plymouth – PL1 5QG (7:10 am)
Taunton – Holiday Inn, Deane Gate Avenue, Taunton TA1 2UA (9:05am)
Exeter – Exeter College  – EX4 4JS (8:30am)
Bristol – City of Bristol College, College Green Campus – Saint George’s Road, Bristol BS1 5UA (10:20 am)

Journey Back

Departing London at 17:30pm
Bristol  20:15pm
Taunton (M5) 21:15pm
Exeter 22:00pm
Plymouth 23:10pm
St.Austell 00:20am

There is no charge for coach seats. This lobby is open to union members and non-members, staff and students and concerned members of the public and parents. To book your place email Dave O’Toole – dotoole (at) ucu.org.uk.

SIGN the PETITION here http://fefunding.org.uk/sign-the-petition/

Information on the #LoveFE Campaign can be found here http://fefunding.org.uk/ and here www.tinyurl.com/ucusw16.

Several college employers in the region are allowing staff leave to travel to the lobby. Please ask your local union officer or union rep or your line manager if this is available.   

If you are travelling with students you may need to complete a risk assessment. This will require the name and address of the coach company which is: Roselyn Coaches LTD, Middleway Garage, St.Blazey Road, Par, Cornwall, PL24 2JA. 01726 813737, beckie.ede(at)roselyncoaches.co.uk

 

 

Lobby of Parliament Tuesday 16 June #LOVEFE

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Sign the petition – here
Book your seat on the coach – here

Following the announcement of cuts to the adult education budget in England a major campaign has been launched to save Further Education Adult Learning and we are calling on everyone to help. The cuts of up to 24% of funding for adult learning courses risk decimating further education provision and will leave thousands of the most vulnerable adults without access to any opportunity to improve their education.

The Skills Funding Letter 2015-16 outlined that £770m of adult skills funding in 2015-16 will be set aside for apprenticeships. This means that the bulk of the overall 11% cut to the Adult Skills Budget will fall on non-apprenticeship provision; the Skills Funding Agency has estimated that this could amount to cuts of up to 24% for non-apprenticeship learning in 2015-16.

These cuts will hit vulnerable learners and the South West economy hardest, with millions of people who missed out on qualifications at school or those who need to retrain missing out if the cuts go ahead in 2015/16.

UCU is working together with its members and members of other unions, employers and employers groups, students and the NUS, professional bodies and those ordinary aspirational members of the community who may now be deprived of their own “life chance” to oppose these cuts which, if implemented, will have a devastating effect on Adult Provision in FE and destroy FE as we currently know it. Educational establishments in the South West also provide an irreplaceable and valuable input into the local economy.

Already in the South West, whilst  only in the first week of the new government, hundreds of jobs in FE have been threatened. UCU is therefore working together with others to organise a Lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 16 June 2015 and you can take part by boarding one of the coaches being organised by the UCU Regional Office in Exeter.

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