Weekly Local Updates

IMPORTANT!

Due to weather conditions, picketing today (Monday 21 February 2022) has been cancelled. Please check the calendar for the relevant Zoom links.


19 January 2022 24 November 2021 22 October 2021
13 January 2022 17 November 2021 14 October 2021
15 December 2021 10 November 2021 6 October 2021
3 February 2022 8 December 2021 3 November 2021 29 September 2021
26 January 2022 29 November 2021 28 October 2021 22 September 2021

 

3 February 2022

Dear Members,

Hopefully you’re all having a good week, this first week of semester 2 classes! We’ve got a few announcements this week as well as information about the upcoming strikes (and a request for volunteers to help with various aspects).

  • Good news from Languages
  • Members’ Meeting 16 February, 12:30-2 https://zoom.us/j/96877191504; Password: 0161
  • Upcoming strike planning (incl. template info for students, away messages)

 

Good news from Languages

As some of you may know (we’ve had reports about this in several past members’ meetings), the language instructors in the division of Modern Languages and Cultures in SALC have been fighting for several years, with the help of the branch, for re-grading of their posts. After language tutors and senior language tutors voted recently to accept the University’s offer, we are delighted that a re-grading has been finalised, moving those on grade 5 up to grade 6 and those on grade 6 up to grade 7, finally appropriately recognising the work that they do.

 

Members’ Meeting 16 February, 12:30-2

https://zoom.us/j/96877191504; Password: 0161

Agenda:

  • Strike planning
  • Discussion of request management requests around ILOs
  • AOB

It hasn’t yet been decided whether these discussions will be as a large group or in breakout rooms. It may be that there will be specific rooms for different aspects of strike planning and organising, and we ask people to choose areas that they might be interested in or have ideas about.

 

Upcoming Strike Planning

As has been announced (by us and national communications), we will be on strike for the Four Fights campaign (pay, casualisation, EDI, and workload) for five days: 21-22 February and 28 February-2 March. We had a great strike planning meeting today with a lot of new faces as well as many familiar ones, but there’s always more room for help with organising and carrying out our actions. If you’re interested in joining, please email ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

Our plan this time around is to have a very specific schedule for each day that combines building pickets with other activities, so that we can mix contact with local colleagues and students and larger scale actions with high visibility.

In particular, we’ve got some specific areas that we’re looking for people to help organise or just help out with:

  • We’re hoping to get our running pickets up and… well… running again this year. If you’d like to be involved or organise (would involve maybe setting up an email list or WhatsApp and coordinating when where to meet and run), please email us.
  • We’re also hoping to get some information stops starting this coming week (when other universities are on strike for USS, but we are not), to start informing people about what is happening, starting with even “What is a union” and “What is a strike”. Our current idea is some people taking their lunch hours at coordinated times and using them to stand on Oxford Road, handing over to the next person after half an hour or an hour. If you’re willing to help organise a schedule and figure out which materials would be useful (we have a lot of flyers on these topics already from past years), please email us! (This material, and this kind of information would also be something useful to have during the strike.)
  • We’ve got a huge number of leaflets from past years, as well as national materials. It would be great if a few people wanted to focus on our leaflets: choosing which to use, deciding if we need new ones and making them, etc. We’ve had some really creative ones over the years, and a coordinated strategy in advance will help us keep our flyer offerings interesting and varied.
  • Are you good at maths and data visualisation? We were talking in the planning meeting about having some photo ops where we use humans as data points to illustrate data about workload, pay gaps, pay, etc…Think you might be able to crunch some of the data that we have into a kind of “this many people stand over there, you represent X…” activity? Let us know.
  • We’ve got one big banner (cloth by the metre, letters sewn on) that says “End Casualisation”. Anyone want to volunteer to make a banner for any of the other Four Fights? (Equality, Pay, Workload) You can get cloth online cheaply by the metre, or buy a cheap bedsheet, and sew on cloth letters or just use acrylic paint and a big paintbrush!
  • Anything else you want to organise? Just say the word and get started!

In the meantime, we know that people want to communicate information about their strike action, particularly to students. It is absolutely not required to tell your line managers in advance if you are striking, but many of us do prefer to let students know what’s going on. There is a sample letter below that you might want to use as a basis for your communication with students, as well as a PowerPoint presentation that explains some of the basics of what is happening.

 

Sample letter to students (note that this is specifically intended for teaching staff to send to their students. There are three highlighted sections where you will need to add or choose your own specific information, but feel free to alter the whole letter or use parts of it in whatever way makes sense for you.)

 

Dear students,

I’m writing to let you all know that I am taking part in the strike action that has been called by the University and College Union. I know that this decision has a significant impact on students, and it is a decision that I have not made lightly.

UCU is currently in dispute with universities over two separate campaigns: working conditions and pensions. The University of Manchester branch voted to go on strike over working conditions, but not pensions.

As a university lecturer/senior lecturer/reader/professor/instructor/graduate teaching assistant , I am committed to education, and to teaching my students to the best of my abilities. Current conditions in UK Higher Education, including at the University of Manchester are worsening, however, and the present strike is an attempt to try and reverse this trend.

Workloads and stress have been going up for university workers immensely in the past decade, even beyond the stress caused by Covid in the past two years. At the same time, pay has been falling in real terms for at least a decade (one estimate puts it at having declined by 20%), and there is very little progress in achieving equity for many colleagues (women, people of colour, disabled colleagues, etc.). In addition to all of this, the sector is increasingly relying on a casualised work force, which means temporary, short-term contracts for many of us. Mental health problems among HE staff are significantly higher than for the general population.

What this means for students is that their teachers (as well as other staff) are at a breaking point. We are overworked and suffering from the effects of long-term stress. We are worried about our futures. We are worried about the support that is offered to vulnerable colleagues in the present, and about the harm that is being done to our campus community by all of these factors. We cannot continue to teach and work like this.

At Manchester, we are striking over four issues: pay, workload, equality and diversity, and casualisation. You can read about these issues here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11818/Four-fights-dispute-FAQs. As a union, we are asking for action on these issues from University managements across the country. We are proposing national agreements to cut the pay gap, national agreements to reduce casualisation, nationally agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, and a pay offer that benefits those lowest on the pay scale the most and is not – yet again – below inflation. Unfortunately, our President, Nancy Rothwell, is currently opposed to these requests.

We understand that the past years have been incredibly difficult for students, and we are sorry that things have reached this point. The past years have been incredibly difficult for us as well. However, the issues that we are striking over are the same issues that universities have refused to work to resolve over many years.

Although a strike is a disruption for everyone, the long-term goal is a better university for you, your siblings and kids, and for current and future staff. We hope that you will lend us your support and solidarity, as you have before, and we look forward to chatting more with you about the issues before or after class, by email, or when you see us on campus. You, your parents and your friends can help by asking our vice-chancellor (president@manchester.ac.uk) to push the industry bodies UCEA and UUK to negotiate in good faith with the campus trade unions in order to avoid further potential strikes and disruption.

 

What this means for our course:

The strike dates are 21-22 February and 28 February-2 March. As you will see, this includes [X] class sessions that I would have taught. These will be cancelled, and will not be rescheduled, as my strike action means that the university will not pay me for these days and this work. Rescheduling classes would effectively mean that I was not paid, but then in the end completed the work anyway.

[Information about any affected assessments, including deadlines falling within the time period for submission or mark release, as well as any potential changes to final assignments because of the missed classes.]

If you have any questions about any of this, get back to me, and I’ll do my best to let you know the answer.

Best wishes – and see you in class

 

Sample email out-of-office message for strike days

Thank you for your email. I am currently on strike, as part of the University and College Union Four Fights Industrial Action regarding pay, casualisation, workload, and equality and diversity for university staff. Information on this dispute is available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11896/Why-were-taking-action. (This page also includes information about the Pensions Strike, which we are not currently involved in.) I will be away from my desk and on strike on the following days: 21-22 February, 28 February-2 March. I will respond to your email as soon as I am able on non-strike days.

As always, best wishes,

UMUCU Exec

 

26 January 2022

Dear Members,

It feels like lots of us this week are just keeping our heads down while getting ready for semester 2 (and in many cases in the middle of one last push to finish semester 1). There are a few things going on though.

  • (Brief) update on the just-ended ballots and the surveys that we are running
  • Zero Carbon Masterplan: 2 events 27 January (tomorrow!)
  • Stachniewski Memorial Lecture for 2022

Ballot surveys

Thanks to everyone who filled out our surveys about delayed or missing ballot papers. We have had a lot of responses (a disturbing number, given what it is), but if you are haven’t completed the survey but either a) didn’t get your ballot papers ever in this last round or b) didn’t get them until very late (e.g. between Monday 10 January and Friday 14 January), please complete the appropriate survey below. We will be taking this data to the regional and national UCU offices to try to push for changes to legislation on union balloting.

Never received a ballot, or received only after the deadline (14 January)? https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe-CcOqOM9xJnboAtJkHsX4HaSN8NDeNXubK9OVP7PYwyN_VQ/viewform

Got your ballot ridiculously late (10-14 January)? https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdLYwtguvkcjbbKvTPWBMaiWHT05-3rdgHY7V6bW03–v04eA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Zero Carbon Masterplan

Two sessions on Thursday 27 January related to the campus Zero Carbon Masterplan.

  • First, the University Sustainability Officer Richard Smith will be joined by Harriet O’Brien from Siemens to discuss the first year of Richard’s work and the proposals made to decarbonise the estate at the University by 2038 with outline ideas from Siemens, who were contracted to do a survey and recommendations.The Environmental Sustainability Team are inviting staff to a presentation of the plan, followed by a discussion on what it will mean for the University.  This a good opportunity to have a say on what the University should be focusing on to reduce our carbon footprint and to push for the Uni to do more, in driving a just transition to a low carbon economy through the Green New Deal.The session is 12pm-1pm, and you need to register in advance via Eventbrite: (link removed).
  • Following on from that session there is another from 1-2pm, run by the University’s self-organised staff-student group The Climate Network. In this Richard Smith will also present on the Zero Carbon Masterplan and take questions. This session is open to staff and students (as are all Climate Network events). It is an opportunity to learn about the Uni’s decarbonisation plans and to raise questions and challenges on that, so please let your students know. Any questions, email vass-de-zomba@manchester.ac.uk.

Stachniewski Memorial Lecture for 2022

John Stachniewski was a former Association of University Teachers (pre-UCU) branch President and the UCU branch supports this lecture every year.

English, American Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester are very pleased to invite you to the Stachniewski Memorial Lecture for 2022 (online). This event commemorates our late colleague John Stachniewski.
For this year’s lecture Jyotsna Singh will talk about ‘The Global Renaissance: Cross-Cultural Encounters 1500-1700‘

Jyotsna Singh is Professor at Michigan State University and author of Shakespeare and Political Theory and the editor of A Companion to the Global Renaissance.

All welcome, meeting details:

Stachniewski Memorial Lecture

Time: Feb 16, 2022 05:30 PM London

 

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

19 January 2022

Dear Members,

We have this week the results from the USS ballots, which are disappointing (but see below for more details). This week we also have new guidance on our Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) and guidance on how to handle requests for information about missed ILOs, as well as some updates on other topics.

Contents

  • USS Ballot Results and SURVEY (important)
  • New Guidance on ASOS
  • Guidance on Reporting Missed ILOs
  • Zero Carbon Masterplan invitation to participate
  • Holocaust Memorial Day online event
  • LGBT+ Language in Use: CPD for UCU

USS Ballot Results and Survey

As you may already know, the University of Manchester branch did not hit 50% response in our latest ballot about the USS (pension scheme). Our official response rate was just under 48%, missing 50% by about 50 votes. We do note, though, that the poll where we’ve asked people to let us know if they never got a ballot in the first place is already up to 41 responses, including people who requested multiple replacement ballots and never received any of them. We also note that if there is so much trouble with us receiving our post, it may also be that votes posted back by members were significantly delayed as well, potentially past the deadline even for votes posted in what should have been enough time.

We are continuing to collect information about ballots not being delivered, so if you never received your ballot (by Friday 14 January), and haven’t yet let us know, please complete this quick form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe-CcOqOM9xJnboAtJkHsX4HaSN8NDeNXubK9OVP7PYwyN_VQ/viewform

We’re also collecting info about ballots that arrived quite late, so if your ballot arrived between Monday 10 January and Friday 14 January, please complete this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdLYwtguvkcjbbKvTPWBMaiWHT05-3rdgHY7V6bW03–v04eA/viewform?usp=sf_link

We are planning to ask Civica (the balloting company) for information regarding the number of ballots that arrived one or two days late for this vote and several previous ones, so that we can try to judge how much our vote was affected by the appalling current postal delays.

New Guidance on ASOS

UCU’s higher education committee (HEC) decided to escalate action short of a strike (ASOS) for both the USS pension and Four Fights disputes. Notice has been served on higher education employers where there is a live ASOS mandate and, with immediate effect, ASOS will consist of:

  • working to contract
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities.

Guidance on Reporting Missed ILOs

After receiving guidance and consulting with members, our suggestion for dealing with requests that you report ILOs missed because of strike action is that you do reply. However, from what we’ve heard from most people, it’s almost impossible to determine with any real clarity what ILOs may have been missed without significant extra work (an overall comparison of all student work this year with student work from previous years of the course unit). Here is a template that you can use as part of your reply that explains this; feel free to use as much or as little as you would like:

I am writing to respond to the request that I specify which ILOs were missed by students because of strike action on my course unit [UNIT NAME]. Of course, the entire course experience for students has been affected by this action. Regarding specific ILOs, it is impossible to say what the impact may have been. ILOs are achieved through a broad mix of methods throughout the semester, including class meetings but also readings, exercises, group work, and other modes. Students have access to a variety of resources to help them attain the ILOs. Class time and scheduled contact hours are an important part of their experience, and a key way of supporting their learning towards those ILOs. This means that the impact of missing classes may be significant for student learning. At the same time, students who have taken advantage of the other resources available will have had the opportunity to meet the ILOs.

Part of the missed course sessions for my unit were [practical/lab-based/etc.] sessions, for which students may have additional issues with making up the physical/experiential learning that was missed. Again, however, it is impossible to say whether ILOs will be entirely missed or not.

My line manager has access to the Course Unit Descriptor listing all of the ILOs for the unit, as well as the programme specification that lists the programme ILOs. The only way to confirm what impact there has been on ILOs would be for the School or Faculty to triangulate that data with the students’ final results and work, in some ways similarly to how we have tried to assess the impact of COVID on student work. Unlike assessing the impact of COVID, however, in this case, a much more detailed investigation of the specific class contents day to day, and specific aspects of the assessments would have to be compared to the ILOs, rather than the performance overall, across several years. This would be a tremendous amount of work, and one that is not within the scope of my current role.

Zero Carbon Masterplan invitation to participate

The University has a target of being “zero carbon” by 2038. To reach this target, a Zero Carbon Masterplan (ZCM) is being drafted. The Environmental Sustainability Team are inviting staff to a presentation on the plan, followed by a discussion on what it will mean for the University. The Head of Environmental Sustainability, Richard Smith, will give a brief overview on the ZCM and a representative from the consultants Siemens will present a summary of the work on the ZCM carried out so far and answer questions on that.

It’s a good opportunity to have a say on what the University should be focusing on to reduce our carbon footprint and to push for the Uni to do more in driving a just transition to a low carbon economy through the Green New Deal.

This session will take place on 27 January, 2022 at 12pm-1pm on Zoom. The link to join the online discussion will be provided to those who do (register – link removed), closer to the time.

Please note: they are planning to record this meeting, so ensure your camera is turned off when joining if you would prefer not to be recorded. If you have any questions prior to the discussion, please send them to es@manchester.ac.uk.

Holocaust Memorial Day Online event

Stand up to Racism is holding an online event starting at 6:30pm on Monday 24th January 2022, marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust announced that the theme for 2022 is “One Day” – when we will all come together in our communities, to learn about the Holocaust and resolve to work for a better future. “One Day” also means remembering defining moments in history – such as 18 April 1943, when the Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto fought back against the Nazi regime.

This year’s HMD comes against the backdrop of an international rise of racism and antisemitism and the growth of the far right.

We are also seeing moves by governments, including the British government, to rip up the rights of refugees established in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust.
It is now more important than ever to reflect and bear witness to the atrocities that resulted in the murder of over 6 million Jewish people and millions of others, and to educate a new generation about the genocidal horror that fascism represents.

More information here: https://fb.me/e/1rdNBHvyP

LGBT+ Language in Use: CPD for UCU members

UCU would like to invite you to take part in LGBT+ Language in Use: CPD for UCU members in the North West region on Tuesday 25 January at 4pm.

If you want to take part in the LGBT+ Language in Use Webinar on Tuesday 25 January at 4pm, you can find more information here: tinyurl.com/25v9umsp

Join us!

 

All our best,

UMUCU Exec

 

13 January 2022

Dear UMUCU Member,

An agenda for next week’s meeting, updates and calls for feedback:

Motions and Agenda for Members’ Meeting,

Wednesday 19 January, at 12.30

Seeking Feedback: Industrial Action Next Steps

We have just been asked to feed into a national UCU meeting about next steps on the USS and Four Fights disputes. Unfortunately we need to report to the national meeting before our branch meeting, so we will draw on previous polls, surveys and discussions about the current dispute. We also invite you to contribute your thoughts by Monday 17 January, addressing the following questions:

  • What are your views about the type and timing of future industrial action?
  • What are your priorities in terms of the disputes?  What does winning look like for you?
  • How should members be engaged in future decision making about the dispute?
  • Do you have any concerns or worries about the dispute that you want HEC to be aware of?

Please email us your feedback at ucu@manchester.ac.uk

GTA Sick Pay

Our branch has been supporting efforts to secure occupational sick pay for GTAs. We had a small victory regarding Covid, but we’re trying to consolidate that and get better conditions for GTAs going forward, not only for Covid. We have been told by Andrew Mullen that the HR Sub-Committee (HRSC) will take this up at their January meeting.

We put together a set of information and requests for the HRSC to consider and have sent it to Andrew Mullen. If you’re interested, that document is attached.

Capability Policy and Procedure

In 2021 the University adopted the Capability Policy and Procedure (https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=57092), in consultation with the campus trade unions and staffing groups. This is something UMUCU supported. Previously, staff performance issues were dealt with by the disciplinary procedure in the statutes, which was unsuitable and often lacked appropriate support for staff. The capability procedure provides more clearly defined support for staff and required updates to ordinances, which UMUCU pushed for, to ensure the same appeal protections as exist in the statutes.

The UMUCU also filed an FOI request to find out how many times disciplinary processes have been used to manage staff performance or underperformance in each faculty since 2018: 13 times in FSE, 7 in Humanities, and 7 in FBMH.

We welcome member feedback on the policy, which will be reviewed in Sep 2022. Supporting staff in either disciplinary or capability procedures is part of the work of UMUCU Caseworkers.

Domestic Abuse Guidance

In December UMUCU and the other campus trade unions (Unite and Unison) were asked for comment on the now updated domestic abuse guidance. The updated documentation can be found here:

Domestic Abuse – Guidance for Managers and Staff (The University of Manchester) (https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=36959).

 

Best wishes,

UMUCU Executive Committee

 

15 December 2021

Dear Members,

Thanks to everyone who attended our Members Meeting today. We had some great discussions, and it’s really exciting to be working with the other local branches (RNCM, Salford, MMU) to discuss ways to move forward together.

This week, our weekly email has information on a wide range of topics…

  • Health and Safety (Covid) update
  • Guidance for SALC staff about the ILOs survey for course unit directors
  • Reminders about strike reporting (and guidance)
  • ASOS reporting guidance
  • Reminder about reballoting (including replacement ballots)
  • Comms over the holiday period

Health and Safety (Covid)

A follow-up on our message yesterday. We have written to Nalin Thakkar saying that the UCU believes that the University should move all possible teaching online, not just in the Humanities. We believe that this is not implausible; Imperial College London, which is very focused on clinical disciplines, has already done so.

The University have put together a Major Incident Team (MIT) to consider the response to the threat of the omicron variant. There are proposals to allow feedback from the trade unions to decisions here. We hope that this will lead to responses and actions which protect our staff and student populations.

Members should make appropriate decisions for the health of themselves and their students, which will generally involve moving as much activity online as possible.

Reporting ILOs missed

Teaching staff in some areas have received requests to complete surveys or otherwise report on what ILOs may have been missed due to strike action, how this intersects with exams or assignments, and what remediation is in place. Our advice is that you hold off on this while we seek additional advice. In general, information on ILOs and week-by-week topics for classes are already available to managers.

If you have been given a deadline in the short term (e.g. this coming Friday, 17 December), you can consider sending a holding email back: “Thank you for your email. I am waiting for guidance about this request from the UCU, who are seeking legal advice.” If relevant, you might also add either or both of the following: “I would note as well though that I am very busy during this week, and would have been unable to complete this request in any case.”  “Please note that it would be inappropriate for me to report on any action (or lack of action) taken by other members of staff (including GTAs) who work on this unit.”

General Strike Reporting

Again, we do want the University to know that we were on strike. We recommend that staff complete the strike reporting tasks (the form that was sent to many, or the request to email information to line managers) on 4 January 2022, the deadline that the University has given us for reporting, or as close to 4 January as possible beforehand. We know that people are currently very busy, and definitely need a break.

ASOS Reporting

We are working to contract, which means that we are doing our jobs. We are currently advising that people should not need to report that they are doing their jobs. We are discussing this with Adèle MacKinlay (head of People and Organisational Development, formerly known as HR). Please do not complete this reporting form, and wait for further guidance. If you are pressed and need to reply, you can use this text: “Thank you for your email. I am waiting for guidance about this request from the UCU, who are seeking legal advice.”

Reballoting

Some of you have already received your ballot papers and sent them back, for which THANK YOU! If you haven’t received your papers yet, you can now request replacement ballots using this form: https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/USS-HE-replacement-form.

Once you have voted, we ask you to please let us know by filling out this other form: https://forms.gle/nwSKrL3CDzzn4we46. This will allow us to take you off our reminder lists so that we won’t keep contacting you to reminder you to vote!

Please though do be patient with us: we’re trying to make sure that as many people vote as possible, and we might be contacting you even though you already have, or even if you haven’t yet gotten your ballot. We do our best.

Comms over the holiday period

If the coming few weeks include holidays you celebrate, then best wishes for them! And Happy New Year to all. We’ll be taking a bit of a break on comms for the next few weeks. There will probably be some updates next week, but then at least a week off between Christmas and New Year’s. Of course, if there is something big that happens, we’ll try to let you know as soon as possible.

 

All our best,

UMUCU Exec

 

8 December 2021

Dear Member

This week brings a number of important updates and some key information in several areas. Please do read!

  • Statement on alleged violence against protesting student by security staff
  • Branch guidance on reporting strike action and ASOS (Action short of a strike)
  • About ASOS
  • Member meeting agenda
  • Lighter side: UMUCU colleague in a photo competition!
  • Reballoting

Upcoming Meetings

  • Members’ Meeting 15 December, 12:30-2

Attachment includes:

  • Template letter responding to management requests for strike and ASOS reporting and rescheduling
  • Template email away message about ASOS
  • Template message to students about ASOS
  • Template message to students specifically from GTAs about ASOS
  • Template message to course coordinators from GTAs about ASOS

(Feel free to adjust of course, and mix and match sections from different templates if that better suits your needs!)

Attached document is also available here: https://livemanchesterac.sharepoint.com/:w:/s/UOM-UCU-Branch-Committee/EWYXfQS-4btKgd1wQpIvflcB6_plDRJ5iXkr8Au4Fxy1vA?e=l76ZDy

Statement on alleged violence

We are all alarmed to hear about an incident of alleged violence against two students by security staff that apparently took place while some students were staging a sit-in protest in support of the UCU strike at the door to the John Owens Building last Friday (3 December). The incident apparently resulted in two students having to go to A&E for injuries received. If these allegations are true, then this is of incredible concern: this type of violence has no place in our community and must be quickly dealt with. We encourage the university to investigate this incident fully and impartially, and to keep the community informed of the investigation and its outcome.

Branch guidance on reporting strike action and ASOS

Many members have received requests from managers about reporting strike action and ASOS, and are wondering what we advise. Please see specific topics below. In addition to these FAQs, you can also access template letters explaining ASOS for various situations here: https://livemanchesterac.sharepoint.com/:w:/s/UOM-UCU-Branch-Committee/EWYXfQS-4btKgd1wQpIvflcB6_plDRJ5iXkr8Au4Fxy1vA?e=l76ZDy.

  • Should I report my participation in the strike? Absolutely! If you are asked, not only are you legally required to report if you took part, but UCU wants management to know that people took part.
  • What if I am asked to report strike participation using a form online? We see no problem in using this form to report your strike activity. If you are concerned about the storage and safety of your data and GDPR privacy concerns, you can contact the Information Governance Office at governance@manchester.ac.uk.
  • What if I’m a GTA? There’s nothing substantively different for GTAs. Report your strike participation when asked to your line manager (or other supervisor or manager).
  • What if I’m asked to report about other people? You are not responsible for reporting about anyone’s strike participation but your own. If you are asked to report on other people, please contact us immediately: ucu@manchester.ac.uk
  • When do I have to report my strike participation by? The University has set a deadline of 4 January 2022 for reporting your strike participation.
  • The email asked me to reschedule classes or provide additional materials to students to meet ILOs. Am I required to do this?At the moment, the branch guidance is that we not do this. If you are asked, you can say that you believe that doing this would undermine your right to strike, and that you are waiting for further advice from the union.Regarding the request to use previous years’ recorded lecture materials, this is counter to the University’s own Policy on the Recording of Lectures and other Teaching and Learning Activities (section 3.12), which commits the University to not using previous recordings to make up for classes missed due to strike action. (https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=16559)
  • Am I required to report ASOS? Several of the letters that we have seen sent out to members also use an online form to report ASOS. For the moment, we advise that people DO NOT complete any reporting about ASOS, while we consult with People and OD as well as get legal advice.UCU branch members had already raised this with People and OD as unreasonable and unprecedented, and had been told that this request would be removed. We are speaking with People and OD about why it was sent out anyway. There is a certain absurdity in the idea of reporting to our employer that we are doing our jobs according to our contract. Importantly, though, we feel that the existence of this form is also a tacit acknowledgement that if staff were to choose to work a reasonable number of hours based on their contracts, they would not be able to complete their work. This suggests that the university is fully aware that our workloads are not manageable.

ASOS

The strike is over, but we’re still engaging in “Action Short of a Strike”, or ASOS. The dimensions of ASOS can vary, but for the moment, the form it is taking is that we are working to contract. For staff with specifically contracted hours per week, that means working only that number of hours. For staff with one of those contracts that says that we just have to work until we finish our “duties”, this kind of ASOS can be a little harder to determine. We recommend that if you have a workload allocation model, you stick to the numbers that it provides for your duties (and explain to students and colleagues if needed why things haven’t been completed or done in detail). ASOS would also mean not engaging in voluntary duties. You may also want to ask line managers to help you prioritise which tasks and duties should be completed if you are not able to complete everything in a reasonable working week.

You may want to use your email out-of-office message to communicate to senders about your participation in ASOS. We are attaching a sample message that you can use all or part of. We are also including a sample message to students in case you need to explain to them why some aspect of teaching or feedback has not been prioritised.

There is currently some debate between UCU and UCEA about what ASOS means for rescheduling teaching. At the moment, we advise that you wait until we have additional legal guidance on this.

Members Meeting Agenda and Plan

Our meeting on 15 December will cover the following topics:

  • Part 1: 12:30-1
    • Covid Health and Safety issues
    • ASOS and strike reporting
  • Part 2: 1-2
    • Joint branch meeting with MMU, RNCM, and Salford branches to further discuss ASOS and how to work together

At the moment, there are no motions or votes planned. Part 1 will likely consist of some reports (e.g. from our Health and Safety officer) and questions from members. There may be some breakout groups to discuss ASOS. Part 2 will likely include some discussions in breakout rooms as well as information from the different branches.

Lighter side

Many of you on the pickets may have met Peg, one of our “picket puppers”, a little brown-and-white dog who was out on strike with her owner, Ian Burney. Ian is a professor in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (FBMH). He is generally part of the picket outside Simon Building.

A photo he took of Peg ‘flying’ (although not at our pickets) has been nominated for “Popular Image of the Year” in the iPHOTOGRAPHY 2021 Member Awards. Not that we would tell you how to vote, but it’s a great picture if you feel like voting 😉

This is the link: Member Awards – iPhotography Learning Portal— you have to scroll down to see the “Popular Image of the Year” entries, and Peg is the dog in the air!

Voting closes 14th Dec 2021.

Reballoting

Finally, we have now begun reballoting on the USS campaign. Please vote again. This is a new vote, not a continuation of the previous ballot. As last time, if you could complete this form once you have sent your ballot (https://forms.gle/nwSKrL3CDzzn4we46); it will help us keep track of voting, and allow us to target communications to remind members to vote.

 

In solidarity,

UMUCU Exec

 

29 November 2021

Dear Members,

This week, we’re sending out our email today instead of Wednesday, as we’ll be on strike on Wednesday! First up, just a quick announcement that our next General Members’ Meeting is going to be December 15 at 12:30. If you have anything you want to see on the agenda, please email us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

UMUCU is on strike for the Four Fights campaign this week, from 1-3 December!

Irrespective of how (or whether) you voted in the ballot, all UMUCU members are now expected to respect the democratic decision of the union branch and join this action, alongside colleagues at 53 other HE institutions.

And the rest of the email is strike information…

  • Picketing (including info for those new to picketing)
  • Events (Meetings, teach-outs, rally)
  • Food
  • Health and Safety (and Risk Assessment attached)
  • Planning and Organisation
  • Email away messages
  • Financial Hardship and Fighting Funds (how to get support if you can’t afford to lose pay)
  • Lecture Recording Policy and strike action (aka “can they use my recordings if I’m on strike?”)

Picketing

Core picketing times will be 8-11am. Placards and leaflets etc. will be available before 8am from the side entrance to Crawford House (Booth St East, opposite AMBS East), and from 8am onward from the ground floor of the Student Union.

Many departments will organise themselves to picket their own buildings, but if you are in an area with fewer UCU members and would likely only have one or two on a door then you can instead come to a more central picketing point:

  • North Campus: Granby Row
  • NE Main Campus: University Place
  • SE Main Campus: Brunswick Park Avenue, Oxford Rd entrance
  • West Main Campus: Quad Arch

When sufficient numbers accumulate at these core points those pickets can divide to cover other key spots.

At 10 a.m. we’d urge all building picket lines to head to these central picketing points for some more visible picketing, and to be able to join in any marching that happens as picketing ends. Latecomers should head straight to those points.

PGRs and GTAs are invited to gather at the picket line outside University Place at 10am on Thursday 2 December to draw attention to the issues they face as early-career staff.

If you’re new to picketing… Picketing can be sort of fun, in an odd way: a chance to talk to colleagues, to connect about shared concerns, and to try to get information out to others about what is happening. The basic guidelines: be friendly and polite, offer information as appropriate, don’t block entrances, if there is any trouble, remove yourself from the situation and get in touch with a picket supervisor (they can be found easily if you go to our table in the foyer of the Students’ Union). You can find out more information about picketing from the UCU guidance, available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/1132/Branch-picket-guidance/pdf/ucu_picketing-guidance1.pdf. We would suggest that you make yourself familiar with this information before joining a picket. Below is more practical information about joining a picket…

Prepare by figuring out in advance what you’re wearing! It’s going to be cold, and picketing involves a lot of standing around outside. We recommend lots of layers, including water-proof outer layers if needed, and comfortable shoes. (It’s like winter sports, but without the physical exercise to keep you warm!) You can go indoors in the Students’ Union or nearby cafes to warm up, but in general, we try not to go into University buildings, and this year, in particular, with Covid, we’re trying to keep things outdoors if we can. Many people also bring their own food and hot drinks. Feel free to make your own signs to bring as well, but make sure that they ONLY refer to the Four Fights issues, and NOT pensions.

It’s great if you can join the picket for the full time (8-11am), but totally understandable if you can’t.

On the day, start by heading to the entrance to Crawford House or the Students’ Union (depending on what time you arrive; see above), where we’ll have tables with info and materials. There you can pick up armbands to signal that you’re part of the picket, as well as standard posters and signs, leaflets, and maybe even stickers. You can also sign in so we have an idea of how many people we have, and where they are going to be. Then you can head out either to one of the central picket spaces or to a specific building that you want to picket. We’d suggest that new picketers join up with existing groups rather than starting their own new pickets on empty doors.

Part of the point of picketing is not going into our place of work, so in general, if you need to go inside to warm up or use the restroom, head to the Students’ Union (which is not our place of employment) or nearby cafes, etc. rather than going into the buildings that we’re picketing!

Once you’re on a picket, you can also get information and advice from others. 😊

Meetings, teach-outs, and rally

On Wed and Thu there will be an online strike meeting from 12-1 for open discussion, and to decide our key local demands for the themes of the four fights.

The programme for teach-outs (educational sessions usually on topics related to our employment, to union organizing, or to related social or political organizing) is available on the website calendar. On Friday 3 December there will be a joint outdoor rally (and hopefully some joint marching) with MMU, RNCM and Salford. We’ll meet at the Quad Archway at 11am and march up to All Saints Park to meet with colleagues. There will be speakers from local UCU branches as well as one of the national negotiators, student activists, and others.

Refreshments

Drinks, hot food and pastries will be available from near the front door of the Student Union from 9 (with stocks replenished at 10 and 11) so that we don’t all congregate indoors at the same time. We recommend taking these back out to non-crowded outdoor spaces to eat. We also recommend bringing your own food and drink.

Health and Safety

The risk assessment for this strike action (including teach outs and other events) is attached. Please note that masks are now mandatory in indoor University spaces (unless medically exempt) as well as according to our own risk assessment. We are also recommending taking a lateral flow test every morning before joining in-person picketing or other activities associated with this action. And of course, if you have a positive lateral flow test or are feeling ill, you should schedule a PCR test and NOT come to campus. (Similarly if you are waiting for the results of a PCR test, or obviously have tested positive, STAY HOME). If you have specific concerns or questions, please email us: ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

We recommend that you bring your own masks and hand sanitiser, but there will be some available in the Students’ Union.

Planning and Organisation

To join the UMUCU whatsapp for the industrial action, please add your name and number here.

Email

We recommend putting up an out-of-office reply on your email for days that you will be on strike. Two suggestions follow, one a bit stronger than the other!

“Thank you for your email. I am currently on strike, as part of the University and College Union Four Fights Industrial Action regarding pay, casualisation, workload, and equality and diversity for university staff. Information on this dispute is available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11896/Why-were-taking-action. (This page also includes information about the Pensions Strike, which we are not currently involved in.) I will be returning to my desk on [date], after the end of the strike action, and will respond as soon as I am able.”

“Thank you for your email. I am currently on strike, as part of the University and College Union Four Fights Industrial Action regarding pay, casualisation, workload, and equality and diversity for university staff. Information on this dispute is available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11896/Why-were-taking-action. (This page also includes information about the Pensions Strike, which we are not currently involved in.) As part of my strike action, I will be deleting emails that arrived during the strike days (1-3 December) so as not to be effectively rescheduling work that I did not complete during the strike. Please resend your message after the strike has ended.”

Financial Hardship and Fighting Funds

We are very much aware that losing pay will constitute a financial hardship for many of our members. The national UCU has a strike fund that any striking member can apply to in order to receive strike pay. For this particular action, strike pay will be £75/day for anyone earning under £30,000/year and £50/day for anyone earning over £30,000/year. You can claim strike pay from the second day of the strike (so for this current round, you would be able to claim two days of strike pay if you are on strike all three days, and one day if you are on strike two days). More information on the national fund can be found here.

Hourly paid workers (possibly including some fractional workers like GTAs) may be able to claim from day one, but we are still waiting for the details from the national office.

In any case, the local UMUCU branch will separately provide strike pay for the first day for anyone who needs it if it is not covered by the provision for hourly workers.

Please note that for both fighting funds, you will have to wait until after you receive the payslip with the deduction indicated to apply for strike pay.

If you are more financially secure and want to help ensure that your colleagues are able to go on strike without undue hardship, please consider donating to the fighting funds. Information about donating to the national fund is available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund. If you want to donate to the local strike fund, you can transfer money directly to it: Account name: UCU University of Manchester Hardship Fund; Account: 20392565; Sort code: 60-83-01

Lecture Recording Policy

The University has a new policy about lecture recordings that was negotiated with UCU: https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=16559

Crucially, the policy states:
• 3.12.  The University will not use a Recording:
• 3.12.1.  as a substitute for a member of staff taking industrial action;

Practically speaking, this means that if you are planning to release pre-recorded material on a strike day, then you cannot be required to do so.

However, if they are scheduled, they may go ahead anyway or a co-worker might release them. Thus, we recommend removing current recordings from any scheduling mechanism. Prior year recordings do not need to be deleted. If they are reused without your permission during a strike day, please contact ucu@manchester.ac.uk as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading this far! It’s a lot of information, but it’s important. Hopefully we’ll see many of you on the picket lines or in other strike-related events!

In solidarity,

UMUCU Exec

 

24 November 2021

Dear members, 

 This week we have some information about plans for the strike next week as well as information about the relationship between the strike and ASOS (action short of a strike). In non-industrial action news, we have a report from the Joint Negotiating Committee meeting, which is one of the many groups on campus that UCU sends representatives to, and a request for information from anyone who had a negative experience with the SEP process not being “people-centred”, so if that might be you, please read the last paragraph of that report!

 Strike plans for Wed 1 December to Fri 3 December

We are adapting our usual strike plans to take account of the ongoing pandemic, the fact people are in less at the moment, and, more positively, because our neighbours at MMU and RNCM are also out on strike this time. Information is below for the following topics (and more information to come):

·         Picketing

·         Refreshments

·         Meetings and teach-outs

·         Health and safety

·         Opportunities to participate in further planning and organization

Picketing

Core picketing times will be 8-11. Placards and leaflets etc. will be available before 8 from the side entrance to Crawford House (Booth St East, opposite AMBS East), and from 8 onward from the ground floor of the Student Union.

 Many departments will organise themselves to picket their own buildings, but if you are in an area with fewer UCU members and would likely only have one or two on a door then you can instead come to a more central picketing point:

·         North Campus: Granby Row

·         NE Main Campus: University Place

·         SE Main Campus: Brunswick Street, Oxford Rd entrance

·         West Main Campus: Quad Arch

When sufficient numbers accumulate at these core points those pickets can divide to cover other key spots.

 At 10 a.m. we’d urge all building picket lines to head to these central picketing points for some more visible picketing, and to be able to join in any marching that happens as picketing ends. Latecomers should head straight to those points.

 Refreshments

Drinks, hot food and pastries will be available from near the front door of the Student Union from 9 (with stocks replenished at 10 and 11) so that we don’t all congregate indoors at the same time.

 Meetings and teach-outs

On Wed and Thu there will be an online strike meeting from 12-1 for open discussion, and to decide our key local demands for the themes of the four fights. Teach-outs will generally happen after 1. Many of these will be online, but some organised by students may be f2f (likely in the SU). A full program will follow, which will be combined with those organised by MMU. If you are organising, or wish to organise, a teach-out as an individual, group of individuals or subject area please let us know asap at ucu@manchester.ac.uk

 On Friday 3 December there will be a joint outdoor rally and hopefully some joint marching) with MMU, RNCM and Salford. More details soon.

 Health and Safety

We are currently working on risk assessments for these activities, and will make them available to everyone as soon as possible. If you have specific concerns or questions, please email us: ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

 Planning and Organisation

To join the UMUCU whatsapp for the industrial action, please add your name and number here

 There will be a further strike planning meeting, open to all, this Monday, 29/11, 12.30-1.15.

Strike Action and ASOS 

 The branch has been advised by the General Secretary that the specific form of ASOS that we will be taking from 1 December means that you might potentially be asked to reschedule teaching and other activities affected by the strike, although we think such requests are unlikely. Our general guidance remains that you should not volunteer to reschedule activities. Please look out for further announcements soon on the scope of ASOS and get in touch immediately (ucu@manchester.ac.uk) if you receive a request to reschedule, as we can give advice on specific circumstances.

 Leading up to the strike, you are NOT required to tell anyone (line managers, heads of department) in advance whether or not you are striking, or to reschedule anything in advance. (Although I think most of us do notify students far enough in advance if classes are cancelled that they don’t have to come to campus.) 

Report from the Joint Negotiating Committee meeting 

On Monday 22 November, four members of the UCU Exec (Simeon Gill, Caroline Martin, Anna Strowe, Nicola Hutchings) met online with representatives from management (Adèle MacKinlay, Patrick Hackett, Nalin Thakkar, Graham Smith) for the regular Joint Negotiating Committee meeting. The JNC is our main opportunity to raise a range of issues that relate to UCU with senior leadership. We discussed or raised a range of matters, listed briefly below:

·         Adèle gave a brief report about on the reshaping of HR into the new People and Organisational Development and the development of a new People and OD strategy, along with a timeline for consultation on the latter with staff, unions, and committees including Senate and others

·         UCU reps raised questions around financial issues including the ID-Manchester arrangements, a bond issued to the University 10 years ago, and the still-under-discussion five-year plan for FBMH

·         UCU reps raised issues around restructures and transparency about processes and decision-making as well as results

·         UCU asked for information about changes to commitments to staff development, including P&DRs and Health & Safety training 

·         UCU reps requested a list of ways that the university has tried to mitigate workload issues

·         UCU reps requested some clarity around casualisation, particularly the category of permanent-subject-to-funding positions, and sick pay for GTAs

·         UCU reps raised questions around planned closure of the Manchester Clinical Trials Unit that Nalin addressed

·         Adèle shared that it is recognised that there is not enough improvement in equality and diversity, and that a strategy will soon be shared by her and the new director for EDI, Banji Adewumi [the UCU branch exec has now seen a draft of this for comment]

·         UCU reps raised issues around what we see as misleading university messaging and communications around the strike

·         We discussed the university’s climate commitments and ways of moving forward

In some of these areas we look forward to receiving further information (the FBMH and university five-year plans once they are confirmed, reports on P&DR development, details of work undertaken to mitigate workload problems). In other areas, we look forward to ways in which we can work together on common goals (making future changes and development on campus people-centred and transparent, finding and implementing concrete ways to decarbonise and otherwise work towards climate-aware processes).

 In one area in particular, we have been asked to provide more information, and we hope that members will help out with this. We raised the issue that many people perceived the SEP (either stage) as not being people-centred, and were asked to provide examples of that. If you have an example of how some part of the SEP was not “people-centred”, please email us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk and we will collect these to feed back to the JNC group.

 In solidarity, 

UMUCU Exec 

 

17 November 2021

Dear Members,

It was fantastic to see so many of you at the Members Meeting last Wednesday, and to hear from people on so many issues around the Industrial Action ballots, possible actions, and union strategy. We reported on all of those discussions up to the national office.

This week we have some information about the upcoming strike action, as well as announcements and information about events relating to the UCU Equality Conference and two different climate-related networks.

Industrial Action Planning and Reballoting

As you may know, the UCU has announced that there will be strike action on 1-3 December for both campaigns, with Action Short of a Strike starting 1 December and continuing for the whole mandate period (or until an agreement is reached). There’s a lot to do to plan this, so if you’re interested in helping, please join one of the strike organising meetings, open to all activists, Tuesday 23 November 12.30 and Monday 29 November, both at 12.30. There’s also a google form to join the UMUCU activist WhatsApp for the strike; we’ll be planning picketing, rallies, teach-outs, etc. etc. and there are a lot of things that will need doing, so any way that you feel you can contribute will be welcome (including additional ideas!).

Because we missed the balloting threshold for the pensions campaign, we will only be taking the Industrial Action mentioned above as part of the Four Fights Campaign. Regarding the pensions dispute, we will be reballoting, starting before Christmas and continuing into the new year. More information on that as we get it.

UCU Equality Conference 2021 (2 – 4 December 2021)

UCU’s annual equality conference is an opportunity to discuss and agree strategies to progress equality issues at work.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year the conference will be held online; further details about format will be circulated in due course.

The three-day programme will include separate sessions for black and ethnic minoritydisabledLGBT+migrant and women members. The joint plenary session will be a discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on members with protected characteristics and on the wider equality agenda.

To register please use the link below which will take you to the main equality groups conference page.

https://www.ucu.org.uk/membersannualgroupsconference

The deadline for registration is Monday 22 November 2021.

UCU North West Green Network; Launch Workshop

Thursday 25 November 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

COP26 has concluded with a watered-down agreement on reducing fossil fuel dependence, UCU officers have been in Glasgow for COP26 these talks to discuss what can be done to avoid catastrophic Climate Disaster. Clearly Education and Training are essential to the task.

We are now launching a UCU North West Green Network to share ideas and look for practical actions we can take, with students, in our own organisation and across FE/HE divides.

To book a place please register here.

UCU has adopted a very clear position on shared responsibility for climate safety.

We are working with student groups to consider the Carbon impact of our institutions’ behaviours, estate and travel. Many are encouraging wide review of all curricula to ensure employability in the emerging Green economy. We also support courses that examine Climate Injustices such as those led by Students Organising for Sustainability UK | SOS-UK.

There is training available nationally for Green Reps in each Branch, and there are other ways in which you can make a difference and work together with Students’ Unions and Societies.  Let’s share what you are already doing – between UCU Branches across all sectors.

Young people are protesting, with Greta Thunberg, and taking time off School (see Fridays for the Future and Teach the Future). They want to see where their concerns about the planet can lead to after they leave school, with further educational support and affective learning and training. Their learning transition has to be planned collectively, perhaps in small clusters geographically.

Join us on 25 November for the first North West Network Workshop, and let’s set up some small working groups across the Region to develop a Plan to help speed up the climate ambitions which will come from COP26 in Glasgow and which our students are demanding – urgently.

For further information, please contact UCUNWgreennetwork@gmail.com

Climate Network (University of Manchester)

You can also join the Climate Network and contribute with the students who run it, through attending events like the two talks listed below, or through teach outs later in the year. If you are interested, please contact them at: climatenetwork@manchester.ac.uk

TALK1 – Matthew Paterson: on his experience of COP26 and lessons for the University
Pre-meeting: 12:30pm-1pm on Friday 19 November

Climate Network Talk: 1pm-2pm on Thursday 25 November

TALK2 – Maggy Fostier, Ruth Grady, and Plastic Shed

Pre-meeting: 12pm-1pm on Monday 29 November

Climate Network Talk: 1pm-2pm on Thursday 9 December

 

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

10 November 2021

Dear Members,

A quick reminder that we are having our Members Meeting TODAY at 12:30, moved up from next week. We’ll be talking about our branch response to the Industrial Action vote, in which, as we mentioned in our email on Monday, we voted yes to action on the Four Fights (pay, casualisation, equality and diversity, and workload), but narrowly missed the legislated anti-union 50% vote threshold for the pensions ballot. We’ll be consulting with members at this meeting about what steps to take next, and what priorities to forward up to the national office.

Environmental Action Fair

The Student Union has organised a series of workshops & discussions for Wednesday 10 November, on topical subjects relating to environmentalism, education, and the University. The full programme is below; the last session is a consultation on the University’s environmental sustainability policy so if you’d like to influence that, now’s your chance.

12-1pm: ‘How could we teach more sustainable development?’
1-2pm: ‘COP26: Doomed from the Start?’
2-3pm: ‘Intersectionality in the Climate Movement’
3-4pm: ‘Student led Sustainability’
4-5pm: ‘Zero Carbon Masterplanning’

The sessions will be in the Nest, on the ground floor of the Student Union Building.

The Student Union Building is a wheelchair accessible building. There is ramp access at both the front and back, but only the ramp at the back is DDA compliant. The building has gender neutral toilets. If people are concerned about needing extra access support, they are welcome to message the SU in advance of the day.

Best wishes, and hopefully we’ll see you at the meeting,

UMUCU Exec

 

3 November 2021

Dear Members,

Now that we have all (hopefully) voted, we settle in to wait for the results, which we’ve been told will be out on Friday. In the meantime, though, no matter what the outcome, we’ll need to talk as a branch about what happens next, so we’re moving the next branch general meeting up to next Wednesday, 10 November (see below). And we’re also still back to regular programming, like information about the local events for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

General Meeting

The next branch General Meeting will be MOVED UP to Wednesday, 10 November, 12:30-2pm so that we can talk about where to go after the ballot (either how to organise the actions if there is a yes vote that meets the ballot threshold, or where to go next with our organising if there is a no vote or we don’t meet the threshold). If you have anything that you would like to see addressed at the meeting, please email us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk, ideally sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 10 November, 12:30-2

Environment and COP26

The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice is this coming Saturday, 6 November. This is a counter-movement in response to the empty promises and green-washing at the COP26 in Glasgow. There will be a rally at midday in St Peters Square, followed by a circular march and a rally at the end, finishing at 3pm. Speakers will be from the trade union, labour, anti-racism, and green movements. Further details here: https://www.facebook.com/McrCOP26

The TU bloc is meeting in Piccadilly Gardens at 11:30 for a short march together down to St Peters Square with flags and banners. UCU nationally and this branch locally are members of the COP26 Coalition and have helped to make this protest happen, so please come along and bring any banners and placards you have!

 

Best wishes,

UMUCU Executive Committee

 

28 October 2021

Dear UCU Member,

You’ll have seen our email earlier about the current ballot, hopefully, and we hope that you’ve voted (or will vote soon). Remember that today is the last day to request a replacement ballot if you need one (https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/USS-HE-replacement-form). And please let us know when you have posted your ballot.

We don’t want to overwhelm you with emails, but there are still other things going on besides the ballot. Here are some quick updates about activities around the COP26 climate summit and local protests, and around our work for fixed term staff.

Environment and COP26

Our UCU branch voted at the last meeting to support the local rally and march on climate change, in St Peter’s Square on 6 November, that’s taking place alongside the COP26 meeting happening in Glasgow.

If you would like to help promote the COP26 activities in Manchester, there will be leafleting going on at a number of locations over the next week and a half that you can join. Details are available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19nmbuPpKMJzsB1Htlc_54UYZPfELD6q3m6NUC8T0keo/edit?usp=sharing. This list is a live document, so there will be more events added in the lead-up to and during COP, so please take a fresh look any time you fancy it.

The next leafleting event is this Friday (tomorrow) at midday, and one of the sites is outside the SU building. It’s been organised by some of the university’s student societies, so your taking part would also be showing solidarity with them. Hope to see you there.

 

Fixed-term staff network

As part of our anti-casualisation work, we are building a network of staff on fixed-term contracts. Our first meeting will be on the Contracts of Employment Policy which sets out how the university can use fixed-term contracts and how staff should be treated. The policy is available here: https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=9623

The meeting will take place via zoom on Tuesday 2nd November 12:30-1:30pm. Please register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwpf-ihrDgiHtKYYNU5W22HyvKKZS0-xwTO

We have also set up a WhatsApp group for fixed-term staff, please email fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk if you would like to join or if you would like any more info on the network in general.

 

Best Thursday wishes,
UMUCU Executive Committee

 

22 October 2021

Dear Members,

Thanks to everyone who joined us on Wednesday for our General Members’ Meeting! It was great to see you all, and hopefully you found it helpful to hear from UCU General Secretary Jo Grady.

We know people are getting lots of emails about the ballot (including from us) so this week’s email is pretty short…

Industrial Action Ballot: Voting and Helping Out

Remember that our ballot is out! Hopefully you have received your ballot papers already or will receive them soon. We encourage everyone to vote as soon as you get them if you are able; lots of ballots get buried on desks and never make it, and the easiest way to avoid that is to send it straight back out!

Have you posted your ballot? Please let us know by filling out this very quick form (link removed).

We’re also still looking for people to help with efforts to keep track of how many UMUCU members have voted, and encourage others to vote. Remember that in addition to the actual content of the vote, trade unions these days are always up against high turn-out requirements. In the interests of having a healthy, democratic union, as well as having a vote that meets those thresholds, getting the vote out is incredibly important.

Willing to help us get the vote out? Use this form to indicate your willingness to contact 10 other UMUCU members (link removed).

Safety Concerns (including Covid)

The resolution and reporting document on Staffnet has been updated. If you have safety concerns please raise following this process. https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=54395

 

In solidarity,

UMUCU Exec

 

14 October 2021

Dear member

Our next Members Meeting is in one week, on 20 October from 12:30-1:45pm. In addition to discussion on a range of issues, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady will be joining us as a guest to talk about the current situation of UCU and the ballot. The agenda is as follows:

  1. H&S update
  2. Balloting for action [group discussions using breakout rooms]
    1. Workload
    2. Casualisation
    3. Equalities
    4. Restructures
  3. USS & Pay – General Discussion
  4. Get the Vote Out
  5. Discussion with UCU General Secretary Jo Grady
  6. COP26 global conference on the climate crisis (motion attached)

Other upcoming meetings

  • Get The Vote Out (UCU balloting) Volunteers meeting: TODAY, Thursday, 14 October, 12:30-1:30pm.
  • Personal Case/Advice Drop-in: Wednesday 27 October30 -1.30pm.

Update your personal information!

The industrial action ballot opens next Monday (18th October), so it’s very important to please ensure that your membership details, especially your university affiliation and your postal address, are correct in the My UCU portal (you can get to the login page from https://my.ucu.org.uk/ if the link above isn’t working).

If you would like to help with the Get the Vote Out Campaign, there is still time. There’s a meeting for anyone interested tomorrow (14 October) from 12:30-1:30pm.

Personal Case/Advice Drop in Reminder- Wednesday 27th October 12.30 -1.30pm

In addition to the collective work we do, UMUCU can also provide advice and guidance on an individual basis.  We’ll be holding an advice drop-in on the last Wednesday of every month.  If you need to have a quick confidential chat with one of our team then please pop in (you are of course still welcome to e-mail ucu@manchester.ac.uk for advice).

 

UMUCU Executive Committee

6 October 2021

Dear member

Upcoming Members’ Meeting: 20 October! Your next general members’ meeting is on 20 October from 12:30-1:30pm. We’ll be sending out an agenda with the Zoom link next week, so if there’s anything that you’d like to see on it, please email back to ucu@manchester.ac.uk or email your local rep in the next few days. We will definitely be talking about the upcoming balloting for Industrial Action, and why it’s so important for us here at Manchester.

This week, we’ll start with some information about the upcoming ballot. We also announce a new policy (the “Capability Policy”) that the branch has been working hard for years to put in place on performance measuring and disciplinary procedures. There is an update on SEP2 and in particular the status of “at-risk” staff in Careers. We also have some information about an event focusing on mental health, and a drop-in for advice on individuals who want to talk to the branch’s personal case advisors.

Other upcoming meetings:

  • Mental Health Event: Wednesday 13 October 12.30-2pm (link removed).
  • Get The Vote Out (UCU balloting) Volunteers meeting: Thursday, 14 October, 12:30-1:30pm (link removed).
  • Personal Case/Advice Drop-in: Wednesday 27 October30 -1.30pm (link removed).

Balloting for Industrial Action

As you are hopefully already aware, the UCU will be balloting on Industrial Action (IA) related to pensions as well as what is called “Four Fights”: pay, equality and diversity, casualisation, and workload. We’ll be talking about why this is important for us at Manchester in our next members’ meeting, but in the meantime, if you want to help out with the campaign to Get the Vote Out (GTVO), please come to the meeting next week, Thursday, 14 October, from 12:30-1:30. There are all kinds of ways to help, from putting up posters and posting on social media to helping with phone and text campaigns to see if people have voted. There are ways to help without having to talk to other people, ways that involve lots of talking to other people, and everything in between, so whatever you’re comfortable with, if you want to help, please join us.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, but still want to be part of this campaign, please email ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

Capability Policy (about measuring performance and dealing with alleged underperformance)

The university has introduced a new capability policy and procedure, as recently announced on StaffNet. We generally welcome the introduction of this procedure, which has been achieved by your UCU representatives alongside the other campus trade unions after very protracted negotiations over a period of years. Until now, staff alleged to be underperforming have often been, entirely inappropriately, dragged through the disciplinary process. Through our negotiations, we have ensured that the formal steps of the Capability process should usually only be invoked after meaningful informal measures. We have also insisted that the capability procedure is in no way detrimental compared with disciplinary procedures, and there are rights of appeal at every stage. Nevertheless, we will remain vigilant against abuses of this new procedure by managers; all too often, so-called “underperformance” may be a matter of excessive workloads or poor management support or unreasonable demands, or related to personal circumstances such as disability or illness. As with all formal processes, our caseworkers will provide representation and support for members who need it.

SEP Update

We’ve just heard that colleagues in Careers are no longer “at risk”. While this is great news for colleagues who were in scope, it’s been accomplished through voluntary severance and resignations. We’re still losing colleagues, as well as their knowledge and expertise, and it’s not being replaced. In addition to this, the interim manager will be leaving, which means that decisions about job restructuring for the second round of the SEP are being taken in an extremely chaotic environment.

The UCU branch is still very concerned about the lack of information and engagement from senior leaders around the entire SEP process, as well as the disruption caused by these job losses and upcoming restructuring, in what has already been an extremely stressful and disrupted year. We don’t believe that these constant restructures and rounds of severance are necessary, and they are certainly not conducive to creating a collegial environment for us to work in or to providing top quality resources to our students. We’ll keep working with colleagues in affected areas, as well as continuing to raise these issues whenever we can.

Mental Health Event

Just a quick reminder that we’ll be having an on-line mental health event on Wednesday 13th October 12.30-2pm.  We’ll be looking at the practical support available, as well as discussing how we can promote and improve good mental health support and provision.

Personal Case/Advice Drop in – Wednesday 27th October 12.30 -1.30pm

In addition to the collective work we do, UMUCU can also provide advice and guidance on an individual basis.  We’ll be holding an advice drop-in on the last Wednesday of every month.  If you need to have a quick confidential chat with one of our team then please pop in (you are of course still welcome to e-mail ucu@manchester.ac.uk for advice).

 

UMUCU Executive Committee

 

29 September 2021

Dear members,

This week we have some more updates on Covid issues on campus, as well as on the national campaigns and upcoming ballot. We also have an update about the second stage of the SEP restructure, which is negatively affecting a number of colleagues, and information about our local campaign to stop the constant disruptive restructuring that the university seems to be so excited about. We have a note about the new plans for campus parking, and a request to let us know how it affects you. And finally, a notice of protests against the Tory party conference this coming weekend, and advance notice about a meeting to discuss mental health issues for you to put on your calendar.

Meeting announcements

  • Stop Restructures Campaign: 30 September 2021, 12:30-1:15PM (link removed). Further information below under “Update on SEP2”
  • Mental Health Event: Wednesday 13 October 12.30-2pm. Further information below under “Mental Health Event”. Link next week.

Covid on Campus

Continued pressure from the UCU branch and from member and non-member staff means that we have what we think might be the clearest explanation yet of how the university is thinking about risk: https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/protected/display.aspx?DocID=57036

Although the message announcing the document dismisses legitimate staff concerns as “misinformation and misunderstanding”, the document does address a number of concerns that have been raised. There are a number of concerns that remain, though, which UCU reps will continue to push for resolutions on, including:

  • More specific Risk Assessments available to staff (staff in some areas have seen these, but in many areas, these have not been made available)
  • Information about cumulative risk across the day
  • Reassessment of sections of the Risk Assessments that rely on incorrect ideas about what happens in classrooms (e.g. that in a lecture theatre, the only person who speaks is the lecturer, and students are always facing forward)
  • The fact that, as many of us have noticed, a vast majority of students moving around in buildings are not wearing masks

We’re still working on branch guidance for you to try to answer some of the questions that we’ve been hearing. In the meantime, however, our general advice is that you report all concerns to your line manager and/or the local Health and Safety contact for your area (https://www.healthandsafety.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/facultydirectoratesafetycontacts/). The University’s reporting process for safety issues is actually relatively robust and close to what our UCU Regional Office recommends as a set of steps.

The process can be found here: https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/protected/display.aspx?DocID=54395. If you believe that you are being placed in danger, please follow this process and report it.

National Campaigns and Upcoming Balloting

A few days after the UCU’s Higher Education Committee announced that there will be a ballot about Industrial Action, we have two responses in the most recent eUpdate (23 Sept), from VC Nancy Rothwell and head of HR Karen Heaton. They’re “disappointed” with us, as usual.

The feeling is mutual. We’re disappointed with them that they consistently accept all statements from Universities UK and the USS Pension people about the state of the pension fund and what needs to be done, without considering any of the many very serious objections that have been raised regarding the methodology that is being used to evaluate the fund and determine what should happen next. Karen Heaton, for example, writes “we are supportive of the changes to the USS pension which are needed to keep it affordable for universities and our staff.” The only problem is that what the USS claims is “needed” is based on some seriously flawed evaluations of the pension fund’s strength, some of which the UCU has been raising now for years (pervasive and continuing problems) and some of which the UCU has raised specifically about the most recent evaluation.

The changes that they’re proposing would reduce most member retirement benefits significantly (try the Pension Modeler at https://t.co/E4VxCBBpbv?amp=1 to see how much you would lose per year in retirement), as well as weakening the entire structure of the pension by effectively encouraging colleagues to opt out. Sounds like not such a great deal for members, and definitely not something that will keep pensions “attractive and affordable”.

(Sam Marsh, one of our negotiators on pensions, from Sheffield, tweets about pension issues and the ongoing negotiations with incredible clarity. He’s @Sam_Marsh101.)

We note that while Nancy mentions pay and pensions, she also leaves out any mention of the other 3 of the “Four Fights”: Equality and Diversity, Casualisation, and Workload.

Please make sure that your information is correct online (https://my.ucu.org.uk/) so that you receive your ballot in the post.

Update on SEP2 and Anti-Restructures Campaign Meeting

Consultations on the 2nd stage of the Student Experience Project (SEP 2) ended recently. UMUCU negotiators were unimpressed that management abruptly closed discussions after one minimal attempt to respond to concerns raised by affected staff. There remain considerable concerns from staff in affected areas, as well as much more broadly, that a good deal of the work of careers advising and promoting widening participation will fall to non-expert PS and to the academic body, as posts in the relevant offices are lost.

At the moment, a number of posts are being lost as colleagues move on and are not replaced, which increases the likelihood that other experienced colleagues may choose to leave. This may mean that in the end, no redundancies are actually needed, although we are aware of two posts that are not present in the new structure. This strategy of essentially starving departments or offices out so that the university can claim that there were few or no redundancies seems to be increasingly common.

The changes may lead to our once sector-leading careers service failing to remain so, as staff numbers decline and academics with less familiarity with careers work have to take up employability roles (or opportunities for students to get advice and guidance are simply lost). It’s hard to see how this restructure could fail to have a serious impact though; previous low staffing in Careers has already meant that a once award-winning set of resources on academic careers for PhD students has been removed, and replaced with links to careers advice resources from other universities!

UMUCU recently passed a motion to resist further restructures and will be exploring with members affected by SEP 2 how we can continue to support them, as well as pushing to make sure that additional expert knowledge and skills are not lost to the university as a resource for our students. To this end, we are having a short meeting on Thursday 30 September to discuss next steps in fighting these restructures and preventing future ones. Please come if you can, or contact us if you want to be involved: ucu@manchester.ac.uk

Car Parking Charges

As many of you will know, the University is trying to change how it handles car parking fees. The “Pay As You Go Parking” scheme due to come into effect on 1 October has now been delayed, which gives us time to collect more responses.

As with many things, it’s being promoted as being more flexible and better for all of us somehow, but in practice, it seems like it is widening gaps in the university by placing an increased burden on colleagues who have to be on campus every day (disproportionately PS and those unable to take advantage of hybrid working), as well as potentially increasing the burden on some colleagues with disabilities.

Union members who attend the TUNG (Trade Unions Negotiating Group) meetings with management have already raised a number of issues with this scheme. We would like to be able to bring your voice to the negotiating table about this, so if you have a concern to share, or would like to let us know how this change affects you, please email ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

Protest the Tory Party Conference

There will be a march this Sunday in Manchester, as part of the national demo organised by the People’s Assembly https://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/.  We’re assembling opposite Whitworth Park at 12:00 for a march up Oxford Road. There will be a Climate Justice Now bloc https://www.facebook.com/events/487934355773163  and an anti-racism bloc meeting at the MRI railings. Hope to see you there!

Mental Health Event

As we return to campus and re-adjust to the “new normal”, it’s so important that we look after our mental health.

We’ll be having an on-line mental health event on Wednesday 13th October 12.30-2pm, we’ll be looking at the practical support available, as well as discussing how we can promote and improve good mental health support and provision. Please put the date in your diary and look out for more details in next week’s local update.

 

UMUCU Executive Committee

 

22 September 2021

Dear UCU member,

A new semester is upon us, the students are coming back, and your Union has been working hard. In this week’s email, a call to hear your views on Covid precautions that the university is taking, a note about work related stress, a brief update on the UCU’s two big national campaigns, and announcements about events for GTAs and Climate Action.

Covid on campus

Many of us are paying attention to the latest news about Covid precautions on campus, and may have noticed the shift in language from the SLT, from just “encouraging” students to wear masks in corridors, to “expecting” that they (and staff) will also wear them in teaching spaces. While there’s a lot more to do on pushing the university to really take care of the health and safety of everyone on campus, we’re pretty happy with that small result, which came a few days after a meeting in which your UMUCU representatives pointed out to head of HR Karen Heaton and others that literally the least the university could do to help promote safe working would be to change their language to be stronger about masks, and extend mask-wearing into teaching rooms.

We are still pushing for more, including a stronger and clearer position on ventilation, and more monitoring/encouragement of lateral flow testing. The motion we passed at the OGM last week was sent out in a previous email (but attached again here); you’ll see that we’re trying to push management regarding a range of different safety precautions and reporting procedures.

Thank you to those of you who joined the Information and Feedback session earlier today. We got a lot of information from you about what you’re concerned about, and what we need to be pressing the University on. We’ll keep working, and keep you informed.

Work Related Stress

Are you suffering from work-related stress? (Is that even a question?) Did you know that there is a process for reporting stress that is affecting your work, through Occupational Health? You can report this whether or not you actually have to take sick leave due to the stress. Details are on our website: https://manchester.web.ucu.org.uk/2021/09/17/ucu-advice-on-work-related-stress/

Note that this could very well include stress caused by anxiety about Covid: the teaching situation, potentially having to teach students not wearing masks (or confront them about it), etc.

National Campaigns: Four Fights, Pensions

If you’ve been following the news from UCU, you’ll know that we’re still working hard on the Four Fights Campaign (pay, casualisation, equality and diversity, and workload) and on the Pensions Campaign. Based on the lack of progress (or even honest good-will) in the negotiations, the UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) has decided that we will be balloting over Industrial Action (IA).

Nobody wants IA, least of all those of us who work closely with the students, who are seriously affected by most of the available actions we could take, but it has proven in the past to produce results and push management to talk. (The strike in 2018 was able to block an enormous pension reduction, although issues clearly remain; the strike in 2020 got management back to the negotiating table in several areas that they had previously said were non-negotiable.) As always, we’re actively working on ways to push management without having to resort to strikes or action short of a strike, but having mandate to engage in such action to back the negotiators up is often the leverage that is needed to make any such work effective.

The HEC has announced the following timetable for action, which you will also have seen in the email from UCU general secretary Jo Grady this morning:

o Ballots open Monday 18 October
o Ballots close Thursday 4 November
o HEC meets to consider results Monday 8 November

Our local UCU branch will be working hard to make sure that this information (and the ballots themselves) get out to everyone. You can help by checking that your address is listed correctly, in the UCU membership portal (https://my.ucu.org.uk/).

You can also attend an all-UCU meeting about these campaigns this Thursday 23 September, from 1:45-2:30 pm.

GTAs: Know Your Rights

Our Anti-Casualisation officers are organising an open online meeting for all new and returning GTAs, on Wednesday the 29th September, 12:30 – 13:30. They’ll be discussing GTAs’ existing rights at work and how to fight for better conditions. Sign up for reminders: https://bit.ly/UM-GTA.

Climate Action

This Friday, Youth Strike 4 Climate is holding its first global day of action since the Covid lockdowns began. This is the youth-led campaign putting pressure on political leaders around the world to do more to avert the climate crisis. Details of the Manchester protest are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/211029360978645.

If you want to join with UoM SU and add your support to the protest, meet-up outside the SU building for 11:15 on the 24th, then we’ll head up to St Peter’s Square. If you’re tight for time but want to take part, try to get to St Peter’s for 12:00 as best you can. Bring any banners and placards you have!

UMUCU Executive Committee