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May, 2012:

UWE New Workload Model – Ballot Closes Shortly

The University of West England (UWE) ballot for industrial action over the newly imposed Workload Model closes on June 6th. UCU members there are reminded that there is an intervening bank holiday and to get their vote in the post.

UCU committee at the UWE said in their Membership Ballot Newsletter:

“We want a big YES vote to support the case that has been made in the UWE Staff Survey results and the UCU Workload Survey – that academic workloads are unreasonable and unsustainable.”

UCU regional official, Nova Gresham, said:

‘The new workload model has resulted in many staff putting in huge amounts of unpaid overtime and skipping holidays just to keep up. Forcing academics to teach more hours and perform the same demanding research duties is not a blueprint for success. Management has succeeded only in demoralising the workforce with this new system which is clearly not fit-for-purpose. UWE members have been left with no choice but to ballot for industrial action.’  

The ballot opened on 18 May and will close on 6 June.

Coffee to Go





Following the opening of the new Forum at The University of Exeter the Exeter management have announce the closure of three staff cafes in Amory, Harrison and Queens’ Buildings. The staff working there are at risk of redundancy as all three are to be closed by the end of this term. Staff whose jobs were affected were only told last week. No union consultation proceeded the decision.

Brett Crane, Unite Branch Secretary says:

“Unite the Union are dismayed at the lack of consultation on these cafe closures. The University continually claims to be interested in staff welfare and the Student Experience. If this was truly so, then surely it would inform and consult staff/cafe users and their representatives at the earliest possible opportunity. To give staff representatives less than 24 hours notice that a decision had already been made, is not acceptable in an institution with Russell Group status.”

UCU, Unison and Unite have all registered their opposition to the closure and the “high-handed” manner of Exeter management in proceeding without any reference to staff, students or their representative bodies.

If you would like to send a message to University of Exeter management sign the petition at:

A5 flyers can be downloaded from here:

or by emailing David O’Toole at for ready printed versions.

or by contacting the South West regional office


UCU Reps Training in Taunton

Training Session at Rep 1

Seven reps from the South West Region took part in the most recent Rep 1 training course. The course, held in the relaxing atmosphere of Lyngford House, Taunton is aimed at new reps, caseworkers and activists who will be undertaking their role in the near future.

The Rep 1 introductory module introduces new reps to the purpose of UCU, its structure, functions and democratic processes and how you can get involved; your role and rights as a UCU rep; the importance of organising and campaigning and the support available to you as a UCU rep.

Training as a UCU union rep is free and you are entitled to paid time off from your employer, training provider, college or university.

If you want to become more involved in the work of UCU starting in your branch  contact your branch secretary. If you are nor sure who this is contact the Regional Office. Email or phone 01392 412 525.


UWE Ballot for Industrial Action

UCU announced this week that the branch at The University of West England will be balloting its members for industrial action over the use of a non-agreed workload model. The newly implemented Workload Model has caused great concern among the staff since it was brought in across the whole University in 2011/12 . Staff allege that a poorly conceived model is also being unfairly implemented with some staff being allocated as much as twice the work of the previous years and others less than previously. 

Comments from the staff in a survey organised by UWE committee members include:

 “So far I am on 880 “bundles” and still adding to it.  The allocation for some of my work is totally unrealistic. […] I keep hoping something is going to be done about it but when and by whom I have absolutely no idea any more.  I’m completely exhausted, fed-up and there’s no end in sight.”

 “The workload model cannot take account of research and scholarship requirements of our role as academics. I am over 20 contact hours per week, with some weeks reaching 26. This is an increase of 100% from three years ago.”

 UCU Regional Official for the South West Nova Gresham said:

 “Industrial action is always a last resort but negotiations have been ongoing for two years, without the kind of progress that would satisfy members and guarantee a realistic and achievable workload.  This kind of mechanistic and inflexible approach is not the way forward.  I hope that the stance taken by members at UWE will encourage other branches to challenge unfair workload models.  The rush to productivity cannot be done at the expense of our members’ health and welfare”.

 The ballot will open on 18 May and close on 6 June.

See UCU National Website News


M10 – Photos from around the region

Despite torrential rain there were many successful pickets thoroughout the region. If anyone wants to send me photos or reports from the day I will post them here. dotoole (at)


From Vladimir Geroimenko, Chair Plymouth University.




























































Message of Support for M10 – NUT South West Region

Dear All,

On behalf of the South West Region of the NUT I am sending best wishes and support for your industrial action tomorrow and would be grateful if you could send this on to any of your branches or activists who you think would appreciate knowing of our support.

As you know we are equally concerned about pensions and a number of other issues such as cuts in public services and, although we are not taking action tomorrow, our campaign continues and is likely to involve further industrial action in the months to come.

In the meanwhile we will be working with other unions, both directly and through the South West TUC, to try and give mutual support and we will have officers and activists who are able to make a presence at events tomorrow giving direct support.

With every hope for a successful day for you and for our ongoing campaign against the injustices being imposed on us by the Government.

Andy Woolley

Regional Secretary
National Union of Teachers
South West Region

Office number:    01392 258028
Joining hotline:    0207 380 6369
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the home page of the NUT website ( ) for the latest news about Union activities and policy or to join on-line

Fair Pensions For All - NUT

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May 10 Action – Pickets, Marches, Stall, Leafletting

The success of the May 10 day of action will be, in part, down to how visible this is to the media and to the general public. Your are encouraged, of course, to picket your college or university but there are also opportunties to rally with other union members. Some of the pickets, marches, stalls and leafletting activities that have been organised within the South West Region are listed here. If you know of others please contact me at david.otoole (at) and I will  update this page. 


Royal United Hospital Bath Hospital, Combe Park, Bath BA1 3NG – from 7am


Walk from Bristol Royal Infirmary rally from 11:30am, Armada House, Telephone Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4BQ

Bristol Royal Infirmary Upper Maudlin Street Bristol – BS2 8HW – 7.30am
Frenchay Hospital main entrance Frenchay Park, Bristol BS16 1LE – 7.30am / 11.45am – 2pm
Southmead Hospital, (Monk Road) Southmead, Bristol BS10 5NB – 7.30am / 11.45am – 2pm


Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance have arranged a STRIKERS CAVALCADE through Cornwall on May 10.  
8:30 – Minibus pick-up in Lemon Quay, Truro, by the Job Centre.  Support the PCS picket there.
9:00 – (until 12:00) UCU activity in Falmouth.
9:00 – Support PCS picket at Pydar House in Truro.  Picket outside ATOS premises in Pydar House with Cornwall Disabled People Against the Cuts.
10:00 – Cornwall College in Camborne, link up with UCU members and PCS members
11:00 – Penzance.  Offer solidarity to Remploy (threatened with closure) and one other site as directed by Penwith ACA and unions.
12:30 – UCU from Falmouth, STRIKERS CAVALCADE and PCS meet up for the Unite Rally at Treliske Hospital.
13:30 – Truro College to support pickets and meet students.
14:45 – Arrive in St. Austell College.
16:45 – Arrive back Truro.
Howard Newlove Tel: 01872 270106


Stall & leafleting 10:30-11:30, Bedford Square.
Rally from 12:00 noon, City Gate, Lower North Street, Exeter.  Speakers, food available.
Royal Devon NHS Exeter Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW – from 7am


RALLY: 12 noon in the Lower Guildhall, Armada Way, Plymouth
Everybody welcome – whether you are on strike or not, join us.  Organised by Plymouth Trades Council.


 Taunton Hospital Musgrove Park Hospital Taunton – TA1 5DA – Morning leafleting from 7am

All Out on May 10

Many UCU members have expressed surprise at the apparent short notice of the strike action on May 10.  I am reproducing here part of the UCU newsletter issued by the UCU branch at Northumbria University with all credit to them for their excellent contribution.


Dear Colleague

Some members have been expressing anxiety about the National Executive Committee’s call for strike action next Thursday, May 10, over the government’s changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).  Others consider the call is long overdue.

There may be a case to be made about timing, and also about the non-involvement of the major TPS stakeholders, the NUT and NASUWT, on the day.  There has also been little work done on the ground by the union, among members and the general public, as a build-up to this.  We can do nothing about the first point, but this Newsletter is intended to go some way towards rectifying the latter, at least among members.

In the first place, the issue has not gone away.  And it’s not about ’affordability’ or ‘debt reduction’ on the government’s part.  Just read what Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said, explaining the government’s public-sector pensions policy to Parliament last December:

“The new pensions will be substantially more affordable to alternative providers.  We are no longer requiring private, voluntary and social enterprise providers to take on the risks of defined benefit that deter many (from) bidding for contracts in the first place.”

So the pensions policy is actually about privatisation.  In order to sell off services to the private sector, the government has to reduce the cost of pensions to potential private employers, and abolish national pay rates, with regional pay as a starting point.  This isn’t just something happening in local government.  The plan is to bring it in to the school sector and universities and colleges as well.  That much is clear from recent documents published by Universities UK and the 157 Group in FE.  The government is being lobbied hard by private providers and private equity firms to remove ‘barriers’ to their investment in the sector.  So, when we fight to maintain the value of the pension we are also fighting to keep our service free from privatisation.

Secondly, members voted decisively in a consultative ballot, less than 2 months ago, to reject the government’s “final offer” and to keep up the strike action to defend our pensions, provided other unions were taking action at the same time.  Next Thursday will see the biggest turn-out since November 30, as members of civil servants’ union PCS and Unite members in the National Health Service stop work.  Like it or not, the UCU NEC has a democratic mandate for the strike call.

Third, UCU members in London have already taken strike action in line with that ballot, in conjunction with London NUT on March 28.  That was a highly successful turn-out, and we have a responsibility to show our colleagues there that they are not alone.

Fourth, the increased TPS contributions which we have all had deducted from the April pay are only the start.  This year, contributions have increased from 6.4% for everyone to 7.6-8.0% for the majority of members, although those on the lowest salary levels have smaller increases while at the top end (more than £75K) deductions are higher.  If the net pay reduction wasn’t as much as you expected, then that’s probably because of the increased personal tax allowance from the Budget, but effectively you have still had a pay cut.  In the next 3 years contributions will increase again, so that from 2015 they will average 9.6%.

Fifth, there is also the matter of the increasing retirement age.  The revised TPS is going to be linked to the State Pension Age.  On the Department for Education web site, that is given as rising to 66 by 2020, 67 between 2026 and 2029 and to 68 between 2044 and 2046.  If you retire earlier, you’ll get a reduced pension.  But in the Budget George Osborne  stated:

“I can confirm today that there will be an automatic review of the state pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increases in longevity.”

That’s the sting in the tail!  Independent financial analysts at Standard Life estimate that a 37-year old would have to work until they are 70, a 21-year old until they are 75 and a person born this year work until they are 80 to get their state pension – so the TPS Normal Pension Age (NPA) will rise at the same rate.

Members who are within 10 years of NPA (60 if joined before 1 January 2007, 65 from then) are protected from the new scheme changes, except for pension increases.  Members who are 10-13.5 years away from NPA will remain in the existing scheme for a limited period after 2015 before joining the new scheme.  All others will start in the new scheme from 2015.  So the last two categories will essentially have a pension in two parts, but any new starters from 2015 will have no offset from the much inferior benefits.

You can work out what you will lose, in pension pay-outs and increased contributions, from the union’s TPS pension loss calculator at .  But here is an example for a Senior Lecturer, aged 40, with 7 years’ membership of the scheme:

Years left to work: 27 years (at current estimate of NPA)
Higher contributions: £102 per month
Pension loss over 25 years of retirement: £186,000

Those of us who are protected have achieved that outcome as a result of the hard efforts of those who went before us, and also as a resukt of the action taken in March 24, June and November last year.  We owe it to our younger colleagues to ensure that they are as well protected as we are.

So there is every reason to take strike action on May 10. “

Regional Committee Meeting – Saturday 28 April

Nova Gresham, Regional Officer addresses the Regional Committee
A well attended UCU Regional Committee had its AGM (Annual General Meeting) in Sidwell Street, Exeter on Saturday morning. New officers for the coming year were elected.  The positions filled were: Marie Morley, University of Bath – Regional Chair, Steve Allen, City College Plymouth – Vice Chair, Shan Maidment, City of Bristol College – Regional Secretary, James Annett, University of  Bristol – Treasurer and Minute Secretary, Theresa Brisbane-Ingall, City College Plymouth – Regional Equality Officer and Chris Jury, Bath Spa University – Communications Officer.
The new Branch Development Organiser (BDO) Dave O’Toole spoke of the need to increase membership density in branches and outlined some tactics for doing so.  Dave has moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Exeter to take up the role and represents a considerable investment by UCU in new resources in the region.
Dave O'Toole, new Organiser at the UCU Exeter office