All UCU members are about to be emailed and asked for their response to the 2019/20 offer on pay and conditions from UCEA, the employers’ body which negotiates on these issues with all trade unions in HE. You are all working flat-out so are likely to have forgotten the details of the campaign and some of you may wish for a steer from the Branch Committee. The Branch Committee recommends rejection. Here’s why.
In late 2019 and early 2020 members of UCU at RHUL and many other universities took industrial action as part of a campaign for better working conditions. Known as the “Four Fights” dispute, UCU asked for action to eradicate gender and race pay gaps; the end of the scourge of casualisation; compensation for “overtime” and the end of intolerable workloads and a pay rise. You can remind yourselves of the details here.
Discussions with the University and College Employers Association (UCEA) were terminated by the coronavirus. The final offer from UCEA offered only future local level work to make improvements in three areas: national frameworks for looking at and generating data on pay gaps; for discussions on workloads; and to explore scope for reducing casualisation. There was no money for the frameworks or sanctions for institutions who do not engage in joint local work on these issues. There was no improvement on the 1.8% (average) pay rise which was imposed in 2019.
RHUL UCU held two short and issue-specific open meetings in May to discuss the offer and ascertain our members’ responses. Members were keen to hear the experience of those Committee members who had been discussing casualisation and equalities with local management and to gain a sense of the robustness of local negotiations. It was with disappointment that we had to explain that working groups in these areas had been halted by Senior Management in March, as they argued they had to focus on the COVID-19 crisis. You may be disappointed to learn these issues were considered so expendable in March; you may, however, be more surprised to know that even now we still cannot get a response to our requests to re-start these working groups or an alternative, effective, mechanism for resolving these long running issues.
The members who attended these meetings and who emailed in their views were strongly in favour of rejecting of this offer. Branch Committee delegates fed this response back to the national negotiators. It was a very widely held response nationally. Rejecting the offer does not mean that we will be taking industrial action, it just means the onus is on UCEA to continue discussions with UCU.
We firmly believe we should all vote to reject this offer.
Posted on behalf of the RHUL-UCU Branch Committee
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