August 21, 2019

2019-20 Pay Ballot starts 9th September

If you work directly for the University, you should receive a ballot paper to your home address within days of the 9th September.

Your employer’s pay offer isn’t good enough.

Living costs have soared and yet most staff have been offered another pitiful pay increase of just 1.8%.

So we’re asking UNISON members like you to join with colleagues and vote YES for strike action. We must demand an improved pay offer.

To be able to effectively threaten to take action, we need a turnout of at least 50% of those balloted. To achieve this, we’ll be contacting all members to check that people have voted. If you want to make life easier for us all, let us know when you’ve posted your ballot!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

 

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.

October 30, 2018

2018-19 Pay Campaign Strike Ballot Result

Members may already have seen the result of our national postal ballot over pay.

The national website has details here.

61.9% of members who voted, voted to reject the 2.0% pay offer and were prepared to take strike action, but the turnout of 31.0% falls short of what is required to take the campaign further.
We are very pleased that a clear majority of members voted in accordance with the national recommendation, endorsed by our branch, that we should firmly reject a below-inflation increase, since it represents a real-terms pay cut.

Normally, we would now be preparing for action and coordinating with UCU and other unions to make the action as effective as possible.

Unfortunately, the viciously anti-democratic Trade Union Act says that a 50% turnout in a strike ballot is required for the legal strike action to take place. All other democratic votes stipulate no such restrictions, but combined with 20th century rules on postal-only balloting, these regulations are specifically designed to make it as difficult as possible for trade-unionists to organise, particularly in relation to effective strike action.

Many of our members and activists will, quite correctly, be angry and frustrated at this outcome. For years we have seen our wages fall back in real terms and every year, we aim to campaign for a real-terms increase with an element of catch-up to bring us back to where we should be. Even at universities where employers have agreed to pay the real living wage, many of our members are struggling to afford even the essentials.

For many of us, it felt like this year would be different. With ballots timed to match those of UCU and campaigning material produced and distributed to branches, it looked like we were better prepared to deliver a significant result which could have breached the 50% turnout threshold.

Whilst many activists thought that a 50% turnout represented a significant challenge, that didn’t stop the most active branches and activists from campaigning to reach it. At Brighton we visited most workplaces with leaflets and emphasised over and over again how members need to make sure their vote is returned, by post, before the deadline. We produced one regional newsletter and a guide to voting. We also contacted many of our members by phone, at work, to check that they had voted and guide them to do so if they hadn’t.

Since we don’t have a regional or institutional breakdown of votes (we’re trying to establish if we can get that), we don’t know how successful our campaign at Brighton has been. What’s clear is that there is an enormous amount of work to do on a national basis if we are to attempt the same project next year. Whilst Labour have promised to repeal the Trade Union Act, it would seem that if the Act is still in place next year, we would be best advised to ballot on the basis of a disaggregate ballot, which would mean that if we achieved 50% at an individual university (as opposed to nationally) then this would allow local strike action to take place, which could still be coordinated with UCU and other unions.

Whilst moving away from national action, albeit as a result of adopting a pragmatic approach, may not be ideal (and debates over different tactics to use will continue), it would at least give us some options if we are to do what trade unions should be doing, and deliver meaningful increases to pay and pensions for our members from the autumn of 2019.

We’d like to thank all our members who played a part in this campaign, even if their only contribution was to make sure that they voted! We know that many of our members went further than that and encouraged others to do so. Many activists gave up their time and energy for the benefit of all, in the best traditions of trade-unionism.

We talked to many people over the last six weeks. Our branch has clearly been strengthened as a result of the campaign, even if the outcome is not what we would have liked.

The result represents a setback which the higher education service group of UNISON and the trade union movement has to learn from. It will be necessary to discuss and debate the way forward and draw up plans for delivering the best possible outcome for our members in the future.

Despite our disappointment, we will continue to campaign for the best possible working conditions for all our members, whilst laying the groundwork for the pay campaign of 2019.

October 9, 2018

2018-19 Postal Pay Ballot – two weeks left to vote!

If you work for the University and haven’t yet voted, you have two weeks to do so.

It’s really important that we get a decent turnout, so please make every effort to vote by the 25th October deadline.

If you’ve not had a ballot paper, please let us know and call 0800 0857 857 for another one.

Every vote will count, but every ballot paper that doesn’t get returned could mean that we can’t take action over a below-inflation pay offer.

There’s more info in our October newsletter.

September 20, 2018

Vote YES for Strike Action!

If you work directly for the University, you should have received a ballot paper from the Electoral Reform Service.

It’s important that you vote, so please make sure you do, by posting your ballot back to them by the 25th October.

If you haven’t got one, it’s either because your home address details held by UNISON are incorrect, or you’ve joined since the ballot cut off point, roughly at the end of August.

Either way, to get a ballot form, you’ll need to contact UNISON as follows:

Call (Freephone) 0800 0857 857, Monday to Friday 6am – midnight, Saturday 9am – 4pm.

They will ask for your current address and issue you a ballot form. If you can’t get through, please keep trying. It’s really important that we get as large a turnout as we can.

Please let us know if you have any problems.

September 3, 2018

Response to the University’s decision to pay the 2%

UNISON is disappointed with the decision to make a payment of 2%, backdated to 1st August. Obviously we always welcome genuine increases to wages (!) but as we’ve pointed out elsewhere on many occasions, 2.0% or even 2.6% for the lowest paid, when inflation is nearer 3.2%, represents a real terms pay cut.

The fact that this is the “final offer” of UCEA is precisely why both UCU and UNISON are in dispute and we will be balloting members to confirm the results of our consultative ballot, which was overwhelmingly to reject this offer.

Paying the 2.0% at this stage, as recommended by UCEA is provocative, and is designed to make it look as if the dispute is over, by imposing yet another cut in our pay. If there is a real desire to make sure members of staff are not inconvenienced by having to wait for a resolution, then we would have been happy to discuss a neutral RPI-based interim payment of 3.2%, or something closer to our claim, which was 7.5% or £1,500 with a commitment to £10/hour, as a way of addressing low pay. (This may seem high, but it only goes some way to make up for the years of bellow-inflation increases which university workers have suffered.)

Obviously we welcome the commitment to pay at least the real living wage rate, which is due to UNSION raising this many times in the past and the University recognising that it is falling behind other major employers in Brighton and the South East, who have gone further and committed themselves to being accredited Living Wage employers, which tackles low pay employers in the supply chain.

It is worth noting though that this commitment will not extend to apprentices, but it is a small step in the right direction and we’re pleased to have contributed to it.

UNISON’s strike ballot opens on 14th September and closes on 25th October. It is crucial that all members return their ballot papers by the deadline and non-members who are equally fed up with real terms pay cuts can have their say by joining now.

August 3, 2018

2018-19 Pay: National Industrial Action Ballot announced

UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive met yesterday to decide on the next steps for this year’s pay campaign. The consultative ballot of all branches returned an overwhelming vote in favour of rejecting the “final” offer of 2.0% or £450, which is consistent with the message received from our branch’s membership.

Members will receive ballot papers to their home addresses by the end of September, but we’ll provide details nearer the time.

The anti-trade union laws make it unlawful for industrial action to take place unless we manage a turnout in excess of 50%, so it is important that every member returns their vote and makes sure that other members do so as well.

Since ballots will go to home addresses, we need to make sure that our information is up to date (we don’t get any info from the University).

Members can check their data by registering and logging into MyUNISON, here.

We can let you know your membership number if you need it.

Alternatively, just contact us (email or call 2450) and I can check for you.

 

 

 

August 1, 2018

2018-19 Consultative Pay Ballot Result

The results of our ballot of Brighton branch members on whether to accept or reject the “final offer” of 2.0% or £425 is follows:

84.2% voted to REJECT the offer.

15.2% voted to ACCEPT the offer.

The turnout was 57.7%.

Thanks to everyone who voted or persuaded others to vote. This is the highest turnout we have had in a consultative ballot and sets a good foundation on which to build, if a full postal ballot takes place in the near future. (The blatantly undemocratic Trade Union Act requires a turnout of at least 50%.)

The result is a clear endorsement of the recommendation of this branch and UNISON nationally, that 2% in real terms is a pay cut and that we have to reject this offer and campaign for more.

A national meeting of the Service Group takes place tomorrow (Thursday 2nd August), where reps will consider the national situation. As a democratic union, we will take into account the feelings of all members in all branches, but on the back of this result, we will be making a case for a full national ballot to be run alongside UCU and other unions, which will potentially allow us to threaten action if the employers don’t offer a more reasonable settlement.

Once again, thanks for playing your part in that process.

We’ll bring you further news when we have it.