We hope you are ready to start the new calendar year refreshed and with renewed enthusiasm for your role in Higher Education.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 15th January) the UCU will open a national ballot in support of the 2018 Pay and Equalities claim, so please look out for your postal ballot papers. The four main elements of this claim are the following:
- Employers and UCU will develop a nationally agreed framework for action to close the gender pay gap by 2020
- They will also devise a nationally-agreed framework for action on precarious contracts
- Employers will offer a nationally-agreed payment to recognise excessive workloads
- We will receive a pay increase to all spine points on the 50 point national pay scale of 7.5% or £1,500 whichever is greater
We are sure you can agree that this claim prioritises some of the greatest challenges to the continued health of UK universities.
This ballot may seem like a case of déjà vu to some of you. Indeed, last year the union engaged in a disaggregated ballot in support of this claim – a disaggregated ballot takes the turnout and result for each individual university. Many Branches, including RHUL, didn’t quite meet the 50% threshold for member participation, which has been needed for a ballot to be deemed “legal” since 2016. At a national meeting in November UCU Branch representatives identified a few potential explanations for this: the timing of the ballot – it started without advance warning and before the academic year, so activists were relatively unprepared; some members were confused by the need to vote by post for industrial action when UCU held a “consultative” e-ballot on the topic over the summer; and, some of the UCU resources underplayed the equalities aspects of the claim. The majority of Branches called for the re-run to take an “aggregated” approach so that all UCU members can take industrial action, if this is the result of the ballot, even if their university had not individually reached the 50% threshold.
Of course, the need to reach the 50% threshold for the whole HE UCU membership means Branches are going to have to work really hard to convince members to use their vote. At RHUL we will be asking each of our Departmental Representatives to help us conduct a “Get The Vote Out” campaign, which will involve putting up posters, knocking on doors and talking to members. Last year many of you showed your commitment to the union and specifically to defending working conditions, so please let your Dep Rep know if you’d like to get involved with the campaign. If you are not sure how to do this then get in touch with us via our Branch email account: rhulucu2018 at gmail.com.
If you wish to remind yourself of the full details and the background to the joint trade union claim you can read about it here.
Good luck to you in 2019 from your Branch Committee.