In late 2019 UCU members at RHUL, and colleagues at many other universities, took eight days of strike action in support of two campaigns: the “four fights” equalities and pay claim and in defence of our USS pension. We had solid support nationally and locally from the National Union of Students and many RHUL student societies and individuals joined us on the picket lines.
Our show of unity led to further talks with UCEA on some of the elements of the “Four Fights” equalities campaign. Locally, senior management have met with us to discuss the extent of casualisation at RHUL with a view to improving job security. The Joint Expert Panel’s second report on USS, published on 13th December 2019, was broadly consistent with UCU’s arguments on scheme management and made criticisms of the governance of the scheme. The report was welcomed by the employers’ organisation, UUK, which negotiates over pensions. However, this willingness to talk and the apparent acceptance of the content of the JEP’s second report has not led to an improved offer to members. And so, regrettably, UCU has announced a series of further strike dates.
The recommended pattern of strike dates coincides with the reading week at RHUL, as it does at a few other institutions. For this reason UCU branches were given some flexibility in naming the fourteen days of strike action. At our College we will delay the start of our action, giving us the following pattern for strikes:
Week 1: Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th of February
Week 2: Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th March
Week 3: Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th,Thursday 12th and Friday 13th March
Week 4: Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March.
On unaffected dates, as now, members are asked to observe Action Short of a Strike(ASoS).
We sincerely hope that progress in negotiations will be made between now and the first day of the planned strike. In the meantime, locally, we will make preparations for the strike in case negotiations fail.
At our General Meeting next Wednesday, 12th March 1pm-3pm in the Munro Fox Lecture Theatre, we will discuss the current position in both disputes and answer your questions. There are many related issues on the agenda, so we hope to see many of you there. We will also post a report of the meeting on this blog for those who are unable to attend in person.
We will bring you further details throughout the negotiations and the potential dispute via the blog. The blog has FAQs about the dispute, which we will update as new queries come in. There is also information on how to donate to and claim from the Branch Hardship Fund. Members, past and present, were extremely generous during the last dispute, for which we are most grateful.
Posted on behalf of members of the RHUL UCU Branch Committee.