July 16, 2019

Local Government Pension Scheme under attack

PENSIONS: Defend local government pensions
The government is currently consulting on plans to allow universities and colleges in England to opt out of offering the local government pension scheme (LGPS) to new non-teaching staff. The proposal would:

  • create a two-tier workforce with new starters offered inferior pensions;
  • disproportionately affect women and the lower paid;
  • threaten the future sustainability of the whole scheme.

This attack on pension rights is the thin end of the wedge – let’s take action.

Find out more about the issue – and share our film

 

Take action: Email your MP to defend the LGPS

 

The consultation closes on 31 July: make your views heard – download template responses via the resources section

 

Are you in the LGPS? Respond to the government consultation
July 5, 2019

Pay Consultation Result

Once again, thanks to all our members who voted in the pay consultation.

We asked you to either accept the “final” pay offer of 1.8% with slightly more for lower grades, or reject it, with the recommendation that you reject the offer.

82% of our branch members who voted, voted to reject the offer.

18% voted to accept.

The turnout was 56%.

Nationally, the vote was 67% to reject the offer, on a 40% turnout.

 

The leading body of Higher Education members in UNISON met yesterday and agreed to go to a full postal ballot later in the year. We’ll be lodging a dispute with UCEA, the employers’ organisation and running a ballot at the same time as UCU in September/October. More details in our July newsletter, out soon.

June 3, 2019

2019-20 Pay Consultation – Make sure you vote!

If you work directly for the University and we have your email address on our system, you should have received an email from “Jon at UNISON”.

This gives you a personal link to be able to vote to accept or reject the offer, which is 1.8% or slightly more for grades 1 to 3. Please make sure you follow the link to vote.

HE pay consultation

If you’ve not received this, you can still vote by following the link on the national website. Please let us know if you need any help with this.

The important thing is that all eligible members vote so that the result is a genuinely democratic reflection of our branch’s view.

Please make sure you vote by the deadline of 1st July.

April 15, 2019

UNISON National Executive Council Elections 2019

If you’re a member (if not, why not?), you should receive a ballot paper to your home address very soon.

Please don’t ignore it. It’s your opportunity to decide who you would like to run the union on a national basis for the next two years.

Of the full National Executive Committee of 67 people, we can vote for Higher Education seats, Regional seats and National seats.

Please take time to read the election addresses and make sure you post your votes back by the 17th May deadline.

If you don’t get a ballot paper by the end of April, the chances are we don’t have your correct address.

If so, please let us know so that we can fix it and get you a new ballot paper!

Who you vote for us entirely up to you, but as you can see from the paperwork, we have nominated the following candidates:

 

UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON UNISON Branch Nominations for NEC Election 2019

Our branch nominated:

Higher Education Seats:

   Kath Owen (Higher Education Female Seat)

   Sandy Nicholl (Higher Education General Seat)

Regional Seats:

   Jac Berry (South East Female Seat)

   Abi Holdsworth (South East Reserved Seat)

   Dan Sartin (South East Male Seat)

National Seats:

   April Ashley (Black Members Female Seat) (two seats)

   Sandra Okwara (Black Members Female Seat) (two seats)

   Hugo Pierre (Black Members Male Seat)

   Paula Carlyle (Disabled Members Female Seat)

 

Please let us know if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 22, 2019

Voluntary Severance

As a trade union, assisting people to leave their jobs is not, ideally, what we’d be doing, but we aim to provide help and assistance to all our members, whatever the circumstances.

If you are going through the process, here is a rough guide to it and what we can do to help you.

 

If you’ve indicated that you want to go ahead with the settlement, HR will send out hard copies of the legal document as well as emailing a pdf to you.

You need to have legal advice and a signature from someone who is qualified to sign this type of document. The University will pay the £350 plus VAT that should cover the cost.

As a UNISON member, you can either use UNISON’s solicitor, Thompsons or find one yourself. There is no real advantage to using Thompsons and if you’d prefer a face-to-face discussion then you may opt to go to a high street solicitor, but the option of using Thompsons is available.

If you want to use Thompsons, the process is:

  1. You read the document, check the amount and make sure there is nothing that you are unhappy with.
  2. You send the pdf of the agreement to unisonhelp@brighton.ac.uk, and we will also need you to confirm your contact details – name, address, email, contact number. The phone number is important because Thompsons will use this method to contact you.
  3. We will send off the electronic version of the agreement and your details to Thompsons.
  4. Thompsons will check the paperwork and contact you directly to discuss it with you.
  5. They will check that you’re happy, answer any questions and make sure you understand the nature of what you’re about to agree.
  6. If you still wish to go ahead, Thompsons will sign the document and arrange to send their signed copy to you. This is your last chance to withdraw from the process if you change your mind.
  7. On receipt, you sign the document yourself and then return it to the University by the deadline.
  8. The University will sign the document and this then becomes a binding agreement that neither party can withdraw from.
  9. You will leave on the agreed date and your final salary payment will include your wages for the month as normal and the settlement amount. They will probably assume that you’ll take any outstanding annual leave before you go.

 

Thompsons will reclaim their costs from the University, so there’s no need to worry about that.

If you’d sooner use your own legal people then the process will be similar, and again, the responsibility of getting the signed paperwork back to the University on time will be yours.

We can recommend https://www.pureemploymentlaw.co.uk/ (01243 836840) or you might want to use a solicitor you are familiar with if you have one already.

There’s no need to panic about the timescale, but we would suggest that this is done as early as possible to avoid the University potentially withdrawing the offer if the process is not complete on time.

We would, however, urge all members wanting to use Thompsons to get the emails back to us as soon as possible.

 

 

If you end up leaving the University, we hope you go on to greater things. Thanks for being a member and giving us the strength to campaign for all workers at the University.

Obviously, we would encourage you to make sure you’re in a trade union in your next job and ask others to join.

If you’re paying your union subs through payroll then this will obviously stop when you stop being paid (!) If you’re paying by direct debit then it’s up to you to cancel this with you bank. (We can’t do that for you!)

 

If you’re retiring or just taking a break, we would encourage you to think about becoming a retired member or an unemployed member.

Retired membership costs £15 for life – just fill in a form and send us a cheque.

About

Unemployed membership costs £4 a year and lasts for two years – just send us a cheque for £4 and we’ll amend your membership status.

If you have any questions on any of this then please feel free to get in touch with your local rep.

February 6, 2019

Annual General Meeting 2019

All members are invited to this year’s AGM, which will take place on

Wednesday 6th March at 12.30pm, Cockcroft Hall, Moulsecoomb.

A free buffet lunch will be available from 12pm.

We’re always very happy with the number of people who can make this, so please come along if you can.

Please complete our survey if you intend to be there.

All members have the right to attend, so if you give your line manager notice that you want to, they should provide cover where necessary.

If you’re travelling from outside Moulsecoomb, we’re happy to pay reasonable travel expenses as long as you have the receipts.

February 1, 2019

Higher Education Conference 2019

UNISON’s annual conference of higher education branches and members took place in Nottingham in January. Our branch was represented by Dan Simmonds and Sian Williams as delegates, with Alan Dilley there as a visitor and Sarah Pickett and Ivan Bonsell attending as regional reps.

The conference is the decision making body for the union, as far as Higher Education is concerned, and aims to guide the Service Group Executive in its work during the year, overseeing what branches are doing and trying to develop the work of branches in delivering meaningful results for our members.

Seventeen motions were debated, most without much controversy. Many were committing the union to do various bits of campaigning over issues of which members will be familiar, such as a 35 hour week, academy schools, pensions, outsourcing and equalities.

Part of the issue with UNISON conferences is the difficulties of getting motions and amendments onto the agenda. The Standing Orders Committee decides what can and what can’t be discussed as conference business. Of four amendments submitted, only one was allowed and all three emergency motions were deemed to not really be emergencies. Dan and Sian met with the Standing Orders Committee several times but they weren’t budging on their decision. Our emergency motion on how to deal with the outcome of the Augar review of higher education funding was, frustratingly, not discussed at all.

The one amendment which did make it as far as the conference was our branch’s amendment on pay dispute tactics and this did, quite rightly, provoke some debate.

As we’ve written about before, an important aspect of annual pay increases is not so much about what you ask for, but how a trade union is going to make sure that it delivers meaningful increases for all its members (and non-members who are happy to accept the benefits of our efforts.)

There was no debate on the substantive pay motion, which commits the union to demanding an August 2019 pay increase of 3% plus whatever the retail price index is (RPI, currently about 2.7%). This demand is combined with a 35 hour week for everyone and meaningful progress for all universities to eliminate the gender pay gap and become living wage employers.

The amendment moved by Sian, on behalf of our branch, would commit the union, in the event of a pay dispute (which is likely because we’re not going to be offered 3%+RPI without the threat of strike action!), to organise a ballot of members on the basis of a disaggregated ballot.

This is a way of dealing with the anti-democratic Trades Union Act, which prevents unions legally taking industrial action without a 50% ballot turnout. A disaggregate ballot treats each university pay claim as a separate dispute, which would mean that we’d only need a 50% turnout here to take action, rather than aiming to achieve it across all universities.

We’ve explained this before, in January’s newsletter and elsewhere, but the view of our branch is that this is a much better tactic than hoping to improve on last year’s 31% turnout within a year. Having another aggregate ballot nationally this year is almost certainly a case of doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Anyway, the debate took place with good contributions on both sides, but our amendment was lost by about 60-65% of the vote of delegates. This means that there will still be some debate about how to progress the pay claim, but it may be that those of us who advocated a different approach will have to wait until we can win the argument.

If you have any questions about the conference or the pay claim feel free to get in touch, in the usual way.

 

 

January 17, 2019

Higher Education Conference 2019

Our branch sent delegates and visitors to this year’s higher education conference in Nottingham last week.

You can read UNISON’s official version of what was discussed on the national website here:

Conference sets ambitious pay policy for 2019

and here

‘You do fabulous work; you deserve decent pay’

but for a more complete and honest assessment of what was discussed, you’ll need to read our branch’s report, available here and in the newsletter soon.