Do you ever notice the minimal element of your pay slip designated “London Allowance”? Our London Weighting has not increased in many years, although other London area universities have chosen to increase this element of pay in recognition of ever escalating costs of living. When thinking about London Weighting we need to remember that increases in London weighting are progressive in that they can have a significant impact on the income of lower paid colleagues, whether that is administrators, security staff or hourly paid lecturers. So, this is surely an increase we can all get behind.
You may well recall that the three RHUL campus unions submitted a London Weighting claim last year. You may also remember that the College turned this down. It was our collective intention to follow this with a RHUL-based campaign working towards a formal dispute in pursuit of our claim. UCU work on this was, initially, delayed by the USS Pension strike action. Although the first stage of the pension action could (in certain circles) be considered successful, it is clear that the College, along with all USS employers is going to have to find additional financial resource to pay increased USS contributions, at least until the Joint expert Panel comes up with a miracle solution. Subsequently, the UCU, together with other main campus unions, made a 7.5% annual pay claim against the employers’ offer of 2%. This pay claim also includes improvements to casualised employment patterns, the gender pay gap and workloads. These are all areas we will be campaigning on locally next academic year. We are now entering a formal ballot period for this claim. We will need to reach the threshold of 50% of local members to be able to join the national action over pay, so we will encourage you over the summer to respond to email invitations to vote.
In light of the above, the Branch Committee discussed the efficacy of continuing with our London weighting claim at this point. Whilst we all believe that the value of London weighting at RHUL should be restored in the medium term, there were different opinions as to whether it was feasible to pursue this at the same time as employers face an increase in pension costs and when we are making a significant national pay demand. We put this dilemma to the AGM which, narrowly voted to ‘soft pedal’ on the London Weighting demand for the immediate future. We are, however, acutely aware that, with many hundreds of members, the AGM is not, necessarily, representative of the whole Branch. We promised, therefore, to put the vote to the whole Branch and would welcome your individual views. Please be assured that any postponement in pursuing this issue will be motivated by our desire to pursue our other objectives with what is very limited trade union Facility Time – but it will only be a postponement. As the College advertisement for a “HR Change Leader” closed recently we look forward with working with a new colleague to make this once again a decent place to work and study.
Please look out for an e-mail to your RHUL contact address, which will include a link to cast your vote in relation to the proposed London weighting campaign. We value your time in responding to these questions. We need your input so we can be sure that we are representing the will of our members.
Posted on behalf of the RHUL UCU Branch Committee