More on 2018-19 Pay Negotiations

The five higher education unions (including UNISON and UCU) met UCEA, the employers’ organisation for the second of three scheduled meetings last week.

UCEA have published a document, which tries to make the point that higher education workers have done quite well for ourselves lately (!) and that universities are either short of money or will be soon.

Anyway, an offer of 1.7% was made, with a bit more for employees on lower grades. This is similar to the final offer last year, an whilst it’s encouraging that they’re looking to give more to the lower grades, it falls well short of what we’re asking for (7.5% or £1,500 and £10/hour minimum for all).

Both sides will meet again in mid-May and we’ll try to report back after that.

If the final offer falls short of inflation (RPI of 3.6%), then we’ll be looking to ballot members with a recommendation that we threaten action unless they come up with more.

HE unions and employers to meet again in May to talk about pay

 

 

Work-related stress? Come along to our lunchtime meeting this week

Image result for workstress logo

We’re pleased to announce that we have arranged for Bob Woods, from Workstress, the national work -stress network, to speak to UNISON members.

Bob will talk about how and why people feel stressed and what we as trade-unionists can do about it.

He’ll be here on Thursday 19th April, Room 117, Mithras House from 12pm to 2pm.

All UNISON members are invited for 12pm for a free light lunch and Bob will start at 12.30pm.

Feel free to drop in for some or all of Bob’s presentation and question & answer session.

 

We’re still campaigning for the University to run a proper survey on work-related stress, or we’ll do our own. More details to follow…

Inspirational Leadership?

Many people will be aware that the Vice Chancellor has been shortlisted for the Guardian’s Higher Education Inspiring Leader Award, due to be announced on 24th April.

Whilst we recognise that there has been change and a new direction of leadership since Debra’s arrival a few years ago, we think you’d struggle to find many workers or students at the University who would regard the architect of those changes as inspirational.

We’ve seen the closure of Hastings campus, resulting in the avoidable destruction of jobs, livelihoods and real educational opportunities for the town. For the first time ever, the University offered voluntary severance to members of staff whilst simultaneously trying to force compulsory redundancy on selected people. Reorganisations have taken place, which may have made improvements, but stress levels have risen and some people have been made visibly ill as a result of having no clear direction, management or reasonable accommodation in which to work.

Our attempts to get the University to carry out a stress survey have been documented elsewhere, but we’re not convinced that a failure to identity and deal with workplace stress is the actions of an inspirational leadership.

In short, the VC has taken steps to turn the University of Brighton into a higher education business with an emphasis on the paying student-customer always being right and the culture of Brighton – being prepared to be a bit different, forgotten, because we need to do what other universities are doing, because someone senior says so.

Whilst we don’t accept that league tables have anything to do with educational quality, by the standards set by the government, it’s fair to say that the University has not exactly improved.

If transforming the public service of higher education into degree-factories, openly competing with each other is the goal, then the VC has partially achieved the first steps, but for many people working here, this transformation is not inspired. It is the worst thing that could happen to a public service, as we’ve seen with NHS privatisation and outsourcing, linked to an obsession with big business being the solution to all our problems.

To be fair, it is true that Debra has made a real effort to promote the ideas of equality and diversity across the University and many people at Brighton are, quite correctly, pleased about that. However, genuine equality for all, means committing resources to making life easier for those with long-term illnesses, disabilities or caring responsibilities and we’re constantly being told that whilst the University will be sympathetic, when it comes to finances, there is nothing available to make life easier and consequently address inequality properly.

The VC has taken steps to address environmental issues, but as we’ve pointed out before, successive People and Planet Awards have shown the University to be hopelessly lacking in workers’ rights, scoring a derisory 10%, in part, as a result of the outright refusal to consider becoming a Living Wage Employer. In fact many lower grade staff, mostly women, have dropped below the real living wage of £8.75/hour.

So, we think that for the VC to be a truly inspirational leader, we’d like to see genuine change at the University. As a start…

  • Reducing the 37 hour working week
  • Equalising the annual leave – 35 days pro rata for all staff
  • Transferring casual staff (academic and support) to permanent jobs
  • Restoring Winter Holiday celebrations
  • Making moves to implement genuinely gold standard equalities policies
  • Introducing realistic wage restraint at the top to fund living wages at the bottom and becoming a Living Wage Employer

A happier, less stressed and valued workforce would undoubtably see a Vice Chancellor which committed to those things as inspirational.

2018-19 Pay Latest

University pay talks begin

UNISON describes first meeting as ‘constructive’

Montage of faces and pay up now logo

UK-wide pay talks for higher education got under way on the 26th March, involving employers and all five unions: UNISON, Unite, GMB and academic unions UCU and EIS.

Although no offer has been tabled, UNISON described the discussions as “constructive” and all parties have said they intend to make progress across all elements of the claim at the next meeting.

“UNISON has made it abundantly clear that our members want a pay increase that addresses the squeeze on salaries and rising living costs as well as institutional inequalities such as closing the gender pay gap and ending precarious employment in the sector,” says UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman.

The full claim is available on UNISON’s national website, but the two main points are:

  • An increase to all spine points on the 50 point national pay scale of 7.5% or £1,500, whichever is greater
  • £10 per hour minimum wage with all HEIs to become foundation living wage employers ensuring all campus staff are paid at least the foundation living wage rate

More updates to follow…

 

Pay Up Now Rally – Runnymede, Saturday 7th April

We’re supporting Surrey County UNISON branch to lobby Phillip Hammond MP

  • End the public sector pay cap!
  • £10/hour minimum wage!
  • No to Austerity!

We’ll be meeting in Brighton to travel to Egham and march to the Runnymede Memorial.

Invited speakers include John McDonnell MP, Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary, Len McCluskey UNITE General Secretary, Jac Berry, Diana Leech and Dan Sartin NEC Members.

All welcome and we’ll pay for your travel costs if you want to come.

 

Just let us know if you’re interested.

International Women’s Day

It’s absolutely fantastic to see the University is celebrating International Women’s Day with their Women of Impact page, such incredible work by so many academic colleagues, and doubtless countless more not on the page!

What isn’t so great is the lack of even a nod in the direction of our amazing female support staff here at the University of Brighton. The women, without whom, the University of Brighton would cease to function.

I believe that we are ALL women of impact, no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ that impact is. Every morning when I come in to work, I say hello and have a little chat with our cleaners who are always so kind and happy that they get me off to a good start to the day. Every lunch time I share a joke with catering staff about my indecision on what to buy, and the inevitable choice of chips with beans in the end. Whenever I need help, caretaking, admin and technical colleagues are always there ready to assist and with a smile on their face. All of these amazing staff regularly impact my time here at the University of Brighton in a positive way.

So I am writing on behalf of UNISON to say a huge THANK YOU to ALL of our women of impact, and that is each and every one of you.

 

Emily Brooks

Equality and Diversity Coordinator

UNISON

Coming out for trans equality

Over the past few years we have seen a great increase in the visibility and awareness of trans and gender identity issues, unfortunately alongside that there has been a lot of hate, discrimination and violence. So often the conversation is focused on how people will be affected by trans people, but we need to also think about how society affects trans people. According to Stonewall, 41% of trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their gender identity in the last year and 12% of trans people have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer at work in the last year.

That is why it is so important for us to ‘come out’ as trans allies, challenging discrimination wherever we see or hear it and being visible when we do so. Being an ally is easy, you don’t have to be an expert in issues surrounding gender identity, all it really comes down to is not being rude!

 

March 31st is Trans Day of Visibility, this year Brighton and Hove City Council and the University of Brighton, among other local organisations, will be handing out pronoun badges to mark the day. The #MyPronounsAre pronoun badge campaign highlights the fact that you can’t assume someone’s gender identity and wearing a badge is a simple way of showing that you are a proud ally. This year I will be joining the campaign and wearing my badge with pride, I hope many others will too.

 

Emily Brooks

University of Brighton UNISON Branch Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator

 

Tips for being a trans ally:

  • Listen to trans people, wherever you can get a trans person’s perspective on things.
  • Challenge transphobia, don’t leave it to trans people to challenge discrimination.
  • Educate yourself, there are loads of resources online around gender identity.
  • Don’t assume people’s gender, don’t be afraid to ask someone their pronouns.

 

Useful resources:

Come Out for Trans Equality

Glossary of Terms

TransEquality.org

Brighton and Hove #MyPronounsAre Campaign

Thanks to all members who made it to our AGM yesterday!

We had 60 people there, which was brilliant given the weather. Thanks in particular to those who made it from outside Moulsecoomb. We really appreciate their efforts to get here.

Sandy Nicoll from UNISON’s National Executive Council spoke and we discussed a wide rang of subjects – pay, stress, casual workers, annual leave, job description changes, the government review of higher education funding etc.

I’ll make sure we produce a video as soon as possible. Please let us know if you’d like to help.

Two members volunteered to be officers of the branch, but we’re always looking for more members to get involved so give us a shout if you’re interested.

UNISON Supports the Abolition of Tuition Fees and Fully-funded Free Education

Tuition fees review ‘needs to support wider access’

UNISON calls for the abolition of fees and free higher education in response to Theresa May’s review

stacked pound coins

“Any change in tuition fees needs to support wider access for students that need flexibility in study options,” UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman said today.

She was speaking after prime minister Theresa May admitted that students in England face “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world”, and announced an “independent review of fees and student finance” to take place over the next year.

Tuition fees in England currently stand at £9,250 a year, which leaves student nurses, for instance, qualifying with a debt of more than £50,000.

“UNISON remains committed to a free education system funded by general taxation and is keen to contribute to any examination of fairer ways of resourcing post-16 education,” said Ms Rowe-Merriman.

She also said students and staff needed to be involved in the review, to make sure that “a radical overhaul of a broken system takes place.”

“Students take on the burden of debt whilst business does little to contribute to ensuring it gets a highly skilled workforce,” she added. “This needs to change as a matter of urgency.”

She pointed out that a well educated workforce benefits the economy and society as a whole, not just individual graduates.

Public sector workers including nurses, teachers, doctors, social workers and many more, are all educated at universities around the UK.