Weekly Local Updates

Academic year 2023/24

29 August 2023

Academic year 2022/23

7 February 2023 31 January 2023 24 January 2023
17 January 2023 3 January 2023 19 December 2022 13 December 2022
6 December 2022 29 November 2022 22 November 2022 15 November 2022
1 November 2022 25 October 2022 18 October 2022 11 October 2022
4 October 2022 28 September 2022 14 September 2022 7 September 2022

29 August 2023

We have some updates and advice for you regarding the following:

  • Incorrect deductions and grievances 
  • E-ballot and MAB 
  • Hardship fund
  • Local strike action in September
  • Exploration of the greylisting of the University of Manchester

There is much that is still up in the air both nationally and locally; we will update you as soon as we know more. 

Incorrect deductions and grievances 

We are receiving many, many reports of incorrect deductions being taken this month. We’re attaching a form you can use to help you calculate your deductions – How to check MAB deductions on your payslip – UMUCU V5 . If you’ve received incorrect deductions, please notify P&OD at payroll-strike@manchester.ac.uk, cc-ing ucu@manchester.ac.uk so we are aware of the number of errors. 

Please remember that whether your deductions are technically correct or not, we do not believe them to be legal. As a first step in challenging these deductions, we have grievance templates: for those who’ve had deductions taken: ​docx icon Grievance Template (deductions taken).docx or ​docx icon Grievance Template (deductions taken).docx 

And for those who haven’t had deductions and want to file a grievance about the threat of deductions: 

​docx icon Grievance template (threat of deductions).docx or ​docx icon Grievance template (threat of deductions).docx 

If your grievance is rejected and you’ve received disproportionate deductions, please escalate by filling in the form provided by national UCU (found here): https://www.ucu.org.uk/MABinformation 

We are also still awaiting legal advice on our collective grievance. Grievances are a necessary part of the process of escalating action and can be cited as part of future litigation.  

E-ballot and MAB 

You will have received an email about an e-ballot from national UCU on Friday afternoon. If you have not yet voted, we recommend that you vote for the first option: the continuation of the marking and assessment boycott until the end of the current mandate. This was the position supported by a recent branch meeting in August and the position we took to the branch delegate meeting (BDM). 

Continuation will give us more leverage in our ongoing local negotiations, in which we are attempting to get the SLT to recognise the punitive and disproportionate nature of the deductions they’re taking. It will also help other branches engaged in local negotiations so that we can keep fighting the egregious deductions we’re receiving while we continue to do our jobs. We need to be paid for our work! 

Whatever the result of the national e-ballot, we would like members to remember that University management chose to make UCU members “volunteers” by withholding 50-100% of pay. According to their own guidance: 

The University does not accept the partial performance of contract of any employee. This means that if you are not willing to perform your full contractual duties, for example by not carrying out the marking and assessment duties that are required and/or allocated as part of your role, you will not be required to perform any of your duties and, consequently, will not be entitled to receive your contractual pay. Any work that you do undertake will therefore be on a voluntary basis.” https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/industrial-action-2022/staff/ 

Legally, volunteers cannot be held accountable to employment contracts. Members have not yet seen, agreed to, or signed a volunteer agreement so members who have had pay withheld have not agreed to undertake any responsibilities as a volunteer. 

Until the MAB mandate runs out, no one should be receiving intimidating emails pressuring them to stop MABing because volunteers cannot be held accountable to the terms of employment contracts. 

Hardship fund 

 

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the fund so far. Donations and applications for support can be made via https://manchester.web.ucu.org.uk (there is now an updated form for all MAB-related applications, but similar in structure to the previous ‘general’ and ‘GTA’ forms). 

The subcommittee that manages the hardship fund will next meet on (or soon after) Thursday 7 September, when we hope to be able to make further payments to members from both donations and the transfer of £25,000 from general funds that was approved at the last members’ meeting. It would help to expedite payments from the fund if any planned applications and donations could be made before 7 September – but both applications and donations are welcome at any time, and we will endeavour to make payments on all claims as quickly as possible. 

We’re looking to raise at least £100,000 in total to support members via the hardship fund. Please continue to share our call for donations with your (non-MAB participating) colleagues. Model messages that have been written and used by members can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WjtGm-24ylypq-OGFi00F9Wkuvr1cMMqba3wfpG0Cuo/edit 

Local strike action in September 

 

We have submitted our formal application for local strike action to UCU HQ and are awaiting official approval. Because of the very strong result of our member e-ballot, we are assuming that our strike days will take place from the 18th-22nd and the 25th-29th of September and we are making plans to this effect. We want the strike to be festive! Let us know if you want to be on the strike committee, where we are planning creative events (alternative welcome events, campus tours, music and more) for Welcome Week and Week 1.  

An FOI request has revealed that the employer had withheld £395,000 of our members’ pay by the end of July. We are still hoping that the SLT will recognise this opportunity to reset relations with UCU, and UoM staff generally, by returning the disproportionate and unnecessary deductions it has taken from members who are using their lawful right to strike in order to make the university a better place to work and learn. If the SLT chose to do this, we could of course call off the strike.  

Exploration of the greylisting of the University of Manchester 

 

At our general meeting last week, we decided to pursue an investigation into greylisting the University over its extreme stance on pay deductions. This would be a very serious step. We are looking for anyone who is interested in helping with this investigation. We would need to ask branches at universities who have gone down this route about the efficacy and impact the greylisting has had; and to look into the procedure by which UCU National would begin such a campaign. 

 

In line with traditional email practices we neglected to add the attachment to yesterday’s members email.

We appreciate those engaged in the MAB face considerable pressures from the UCEA-designed and UoM-adopted policy regarding MAB. We are becoming increasingly aware of incorrect deductions to our members and have found the attached helpful in making sense of the deductions made. A copy has been shared with P&OD for comment, but at this time no response has been received. Please report any errors to strike-payroll@manchester.ac.uk copying in the branch ucu@manchester.ac.uk so we can retain a record as part of our discussions over this policy. We oppose the adoption and implementation of this policy and will as with other areas of policy raise our objections and concerns on behalf of our membership.

Academic year 2022/23

7 February 2023 31 January 2023 24 January 2023
17 January 2023 3 January 2023 19 December 2022 13 December 2022
6 December 2022 29 November 2022 22 November 2022 15 November 2022
1 November 2022 25 October 2022 18 October 2022 11 October 2022
4 October 2022 28 September 2022 14 September 2022 7 September 2022

7 February 2023

It was great to see so many of you on the picket lines and at the marches and rally last week! (And to see so many of your kids too!) This week we have a number of items about the strikes, including guidance about reporting action, and information about activities/events during the strike days this week (Thursday and Friday). We also have an important reminder to VOTE for NEC representatives and UCU officers.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Strike News
  2. Reminders about Reporting
  3. Reminders about guidance on requests for ILO reporting
  4. General strike planning for this week(Thursday and Friday)
  5. Strike meetings 9 and 10 Feb for colleagues on fixed term contracts and GTAs
  6. UCU Governance and Representatives Ballot

 

  1. Strike News

1a. Reminders about Reporting Strike Action/ASOS

We will copy below the guidance we sent out last week, but just to clarify first a few things:

The deadlines that are being sent around by the university are wishful thinking on their part and cannot be required (since strike reporting itself cannot legally be required). However, the university may decide that if staff do not report by those deadlines, then HR will assume that they were on strike, and deduct pay. As we note in the second point below, we would expect that any such assumption be made in accordance with a transparent policy, across the university, and with all data kept in accordance with GDPR regulations.

Copy of our guidance from Friday:

Many colleagues have started to receive emails telling them that they must use the university form to report strike action after each set of days of strike action. Please note the branch UCU guidance on this:

  • We advise people NOT to use the form that is being sent around. We recommend that you report strike action when asked directly by a line manager.
  • You do not need to report after every block of strike days; you can wait until the end of the whole set of 18 days. If you receive pushback on this, you can point out that in fact, legally you are not required to report strike action at all (although you cannot lie about it). Please note though that if you do not report whether you have taken action or not, the university may be within its rights to assume that you have and to deduct pay. Of course, if they choose to do this, we expect that they will be deducting pay from all employees who have not reported back, with a transparent and consistent process across the whole university, not making assumptions about strike participation in some departments but not others, or making assumptions about who is or is not in the union in the first place. We expect documentation of this process to be kept in accordance with GDPR rules.
  • You do not need to report ASOS.

Regarding some of the other material contained in at least some of the letters going out, it is not in fact law that picket lines can only have up to six people. If someone tries to enforce this on you while you are picketing, please get in touch with a picket supervisor (message the group or send someone to the SU table).

On a related topic, we have heard from a number of colleagues about excessive deductions being made for the November strike action, in the form of double deductions (the equivalent of 6 days rather than 3). Please check your payslips to make sure that any deductions have been made properly. These may be in December or January payslips. If you are on a yearly full time salary, you can figure out what the deduction should be by dividing your salary by 365 and then multiplying the result (your daily pay) by 3. If your pay is handled in another way (hourly, part time, etc.) and you would like help figuring out how to calculate your correct deductions, please contact us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

 

1b. Reminder about guidance on requests to report about ILOs

For anyone on a teaching contract, you may receive requests after you have reported taking strike action that you also then report what ILOs have been missed and what mitigation you have undertaken. The template that we have used in the past, which has been useful to many colleagues and accepted by many managers, is copied below. Complete the missing parts, and delete any sections that you feel are not applicable to you.

However, we recognize that this may not suit the needs of all of our teaching colleagues. If you are in a situation where this is either not accepted by your manager, or where you do not feel that it is true and therefore need advice on what to write instead, please contact us directly as soon as possible, on ucu@manchester.ac.uk

 

Template:

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.

 

1c. General strike planning this week

Thursday 9 February

  • picket lines from 8am
  • materials at the SU from 8am
  • Breakfast rolls, pastries and hot drinks from The Nest (ground floor SU) from 9.30am
  • 11am – Open strike committee meeting, The Hive 1stfloor SU. All welcome but we would like representation from all areas
  • 12 noon Sandbar, free drinks and pizza for strikers and supporters
  • (Teach-outs in SU from 12)
  • 1-2pm Meeting of members on fixed term contracts, UMUCU Branch Office (Crawford House) details below in item 1c.

Friday 10 February

  • picket lines from 8am
  • materials at the SU from 8am
  • Breakfast rolls, pastries and hot drinks from The Nest (ground floor SU) from 9.30
  • 30-11am guest speaker over breakfast in Nest, ground floor SU
  • Early finish so you can enjoy a long weekend
  • (Teach-outs in SU from 12)
  • 1-2pm Meeting of GTA members, UMUCU Branch Office (Crawford House) details below in item 1c.

 

1d. Strike Meetings this week for members on fixed term contracts and GTAs (9 and 10 Feb)

Meeting of Fixed-term Members, 1–2pm Thursday 9 February, UMUCU branch office

All fixed-term members are invited to an informal meeting at the branch office in Crawford House (ground floor, entrance from Booth Street East) after pickets and teach outs on Thursday to discuss recent progress (e.g. new Contracts of Employment Policy and developing a demand for 12-month minimum teaching contracts), how to make our current industrial action as effective as possible, and how to develop further demands and organise around them. If you would like to suggest a discussion on a particular topic, please email Ben on benjamin.pope@manchester.ac.uk.

Meeting for GTA Members, 1–2pm Friday 10 February, UMUCU branch office

All GTA members are invited to attend a meeting at the branch office in Crawford House (ground floor, entrance from Booth Street East). We will be updating you on the work we have been doing in the branch, discussing the strike action in relation to GTAs and making plans. Please come along and bring other GTA members with you! Get in touch with Fiona P. for more info: fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk

 

  1. UCU Governance and Representatives Ballot

Turnout for regular elections is often low, but these votes are really important for the functioning of the union! During the past few months, through the process of debating and settling on strike action going forward, many of us have heard much more about the various levels of UCU governance than we may have been aware of before (General Secretary, Higher Education Committee, etc.) This is our chance to choose the people in the elected roles who are part of that structure.

You should all have received a large envelope from Civica Election Services with a ballot paper (please read the instructions!), three booklets of candidate statements, and a return envelope. In our region, we are voting for a VP to become president in 2025-26 (2 candidates), one honorary treasurer (3 candidates), and then a series of other representatives to the National Executive Committee: 2 reps for disabled members (3 candidates), two reps for LGBT+ members (2 candidates), two reps for black members (4 candidates) two reps for migrant members (4 candidates), two reps of casually employed HE members (3 candidates as one has withdrawn), four UK-wide HE reps (12 candidates) and two reps for the Northwest Region HE (5 candidates). There are additional constraints on some of these seats to ensure representation of various types. Some of the numbers may not be what is on your ballots as some candidates have withdrawn. The current list is available at the link below.

The candidate statements are included in the booklets in the envelope, but are also available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12531/UCU-officer-and-NEC-elections-in-2023-ballots-now-open. On that site there is also a video of the online hustings for the position of UCU vice-president.

If you have not received a ballot paper, you can order a replacement here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/ballot-replacement. The last day you can order a replacement is 22 February 2023.

The election is conducted using the system of the Single Transferable Vote. You can find out more about how this works here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/voting-systems/types-of-voting-system/single-transferable-vote/ or here: https://michaelabberton.medium.com/how-to-vote-in-the-ucu-nec-elections-cb739493097e

The ballot closes on 1 March 2023, but please find the envelope and vote as soon as you can!

 

 

31 January 2023

Dear Members,

We have a number of items this week, some strike related and some not. As part of the strike information, we are including our usual general information about picketing for anyone who hasn’t done it before, so please take a look at that if you have questions!

Best regards, as always, and see you on the picket lines tomorrow!

UMUCU Exec

  1. Staff Survey Results
  2. New Contracts of Employment Policy
  3. Teach-out Organising
  4. Organising Casualised Members
  5. Strike Information

 

  1. Staff Survey Results

The University has been saying a lot recently about the Staff Survey, but we think they’re pushing aside some of the important take-aways of the exercise. Many staff members are not happy with the university, and things are getting worse. We’d like to see these issues addressed head-on, not swept under the rug in order to present a rosy picture of things. When numbers dip on the NSS, the administration treats it as a catastrophe requiring all hands on deck (too reactive, actually), but when staff confidence in leadership plummets, it’s just business as usual. We’ve chosen a few key issues to point out:

 

Staff survey graph

Plotting answers to a few SLT-related questions on the Staff Survey over the past ten years

 

  1. New Contracts of Employment Policy

The university has recently published an updated Contracts of Employment Policy and Procedure, which governs the use of fixed-term and ‘finite-funded permanent’ contracts, following negotiations with the campus unions and input from UMUCU members. This version of the policy contains improved provisions relating to the three-month extended notice period (for which many fixed-term staff with four years’ continuous service are eligible) and the extension of fixed-term contracts to cover periods of parental leave, amongst over changes. Please contact ucu@manchester.ac.uk to join the fixed-term staff network for more information about the policy and to discuss future improvements—and look out for a new page for fixed-term members coming soon to the branch website.

 

  1. Teach out organising

Manchester Free University, a grassroots organisation which formed through teach-outs during previous strikes, are holding an open meeting with the aim of coordinating teach outs throughout the action. Bring your ideas along at 5-6pm, Thursday 2nd of February, UCU branch office in Crawford House. (Go to the entrance on Booth St East, and use the door going to the right, which is the same door as for Counselling Services. We’re on the ground floor there, on the left.)

 

  1. Organising casualised members

We will be holding meetings during the strike days for members on fixed-term contracts (FTCs) and GTAs so that we can discuss the specific issues and update on what we have been doing as a committee. We hope you are able to join us! Venues to be confirmed, please look out for updates about other events for casualised members too.

  • Thursday 9 Feb 1-2pm – fixed-term contracts meeting
  • Friday 10 Feb 1-2pm – GTA meeting

If you would like to join the WhatsApp groups for FTCs and GTAs, please email:  fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk

 

  1. Strike Information
  • Picketing (including info for those new to picketing)
  • March and Rally
  • Food
  • 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?”)
  • Reporting action
  • Risk assessment

 

  1. i) 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, tunnel entrance), 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:

  • MECD
  • University Place
  • Brunswick Park Avenue, Oxford Rd entrance
  • 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.

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 cool and possibly rainy, 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. Many people also bring their own food and hot drinks. Feel free to make your own signs to bring as well.
  • 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 the steps in front of the Chaplaincy, 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 officially 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. 😊

 

  1. ii) March and rally

We’re joining with five other unions for a rally in St Peters Square and a march around city centre. There will be a march up Oxford Road to join the main group, assembling at the Archway on Oxford Road (Whitworth Hall) at 11:45 and then starting to march up to St Peters Square at 12.

Right to Strike poster

Poster text: Defend the right to strike Strike rally & march 1st Feb, St. Peters Square, 12:30pm Organised by Manchester Trades Union Council The Tories are attacking our democratic right to strike. They want to stop us defending living standards and public services. We won’t accept it. March for our rights and in solidarity with striking workers. Logos for six unions: National Education Union, PCS, RMT, UCU, Unison, Unite. QR code (unfortunately doesn’t appear to be working, the link is: https://fb.me/e/2aZHuDUs7).

 

 

  1. iii) Refreshments

Pastries, breakfast rolls, and hot drinks will be available at the Nest in the Students’ Union (ground floor) from 9:30am.

 

  1. iv) Planning and Organisation

To join the UMUCU whatsapp for the industrial action, please add your name and number here: https://forms.gle/qUZt8FJHVKHtLoQZ8.

 

  1. v) Email away message

We recommend putting up an out-of-office reply on your email for days that you will be on strike.   You can find some sample replies here:  Strike-OutOfOfficeMessages.docx

  1. 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. We’re not exactly sure yet what it will be for this action, but for the previous few actions, strike pay has been £75/day for anyone earning under £30,000/year and £50/day for anyone earning over £30,000/year. You can usually 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). In previous strikes, the local branch has supplemented this by offering strike pay for any day not covered by the national fund. 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.

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

 

  1. vii) Lecture Recording Policy

The University has a 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, or afterwards to make up for “missing ILOs”, please contact ucu@manchester.ac.uk as soon as possible.

 

  1. viii) Reporting Action

There is no requirement to report that you are going to take action before you take it.

After the action, you can be asked if you took action. We do encourage colleagues to report that they have taken action, as this means that the university get a sense of the strength of the action. However, legally, you are also allowed to simply not respond (you cannot lie, though). The University has been asking us to complete a form online to report; we continue to recommend that you do NOT use this form.

For the last few strikes, the university have been increasingly asking teaching staff to report whether any ILOs were missed due to strike action, and threatening further pay withholding if teaching staff who were on strike don’t report this, or report a plan to make up for any missed ILOs. We recommend something like the following as a response:

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 treated holistically, and 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.

You can of course edit it as you see fit, to reflect your own teaching situation.

 

  1. ix) Risk assessment

We have completed a risk assessment; if you would like to see it please email the branch at ucu@manchester.ac.uk and we’ll send a copy.

 

24 January 2023

Dear Members,

This week, a reminder about our Members’ Meeting tomorrow, information about a rally on Feb 1 (our first strike day), and a branch social this Thursday, and some additional health notices.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Members’ Meeting 25 January 2023, 12:30-1:45, Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: redacted
  2. 1 February Strike Day sign-ups/questionnaire
  3. Right to Strike rally and march, 1 February
  4. Branch social- Sandbar, 26 January, 4pm
  5. Covid Vaccinations on campus Monday 30 January
  6. Wellbeing training for managers

 

  1. Members’ Meeting 25 January 2023

12:30-1:45, Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: redacted

Please join us.

Agenda:

  1. Rent Strikers
  2. Strike plans and dates for future actions
  3. Strike fund motion
  4. 1 Feb strike day
  5. Kids, trains, picketing, joint demo
  6. Check who will be on the picket lines, plan for picket locations
  7. Joint activities 12:30 St Peters Square
  8. ASOS and workload management
  9. Migrant rights motion (20230124 – motion)
  10. SEP Feedback – Review Meeting and survey

 

  1. 1 February Strike Day sign-ups/questionnaire

As we have done for a few semesters now when we have industrial action, we have a little sign-up sheet for picketing that also includes some other questions that will help us plan our action. For the moment, it only includes the 1 February day that has been announced at this stage.

On the form: picketing sign ups, presence of kids at pickets (since many teachers are on strike too!)

https://forms.gle/qUZt8FJHVKHtLoQZ8

We know people will be affected by train strikes as well as childcare challenges, so we’re hoping to be able to get a sense of how many people will be able to make it to campus, and how many kids might be running around 😊 (We’re planning to set up some spaces particularly for kids, so…)

 

  1. Right to Strike rally and march, 1 February

Poster below, text below that for screen readers.

Poster text: Defend the right to strike Strike rally & march 1st Feb, St. Peters Square, 12:30pm, Organised by Manchester Trades Union Council The Tories are attacking our democratic right to strike. They want to stop us defending living standards and public services. We won’t accept it. March for our rights and in solidarity with striking workers. Logos for six unions: National Education Union, PCS, RMT, UCU, Unison, Unite. QR code [unfortunately doesn’t appear to be working, the link is: https://fb.me/e/2aZHuDUs7)

 

  1. Branch Pizza and Beer at Sandbar, Thursday 26 January

Join other branch members for pizza and drinks at the Sandbar this Thursday from 4pm. Some pizzas and your first drink on us.

 

  1. Covid Vaccinations on Campus, Monday 30 January

The clinic will take place in the Keepers Room in Whitworth Hall between 11am and 3pm where we will be offering first, second, and booster doses, to all students and staff who are eligible. No need to book just turn up. [Note the underlined caveat.]

Getting vaccinated is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness from the virus. By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself but also helping to slow the spread of the virus and protect those who are more vulnerable.

More information on who’s eligible here (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/)

 

  1. Wellbeing training for managers

This training provides an introduction to managing with wellbeing in mind, guiding participants through the key skills required when it comes to considering team members’ wellbeing, as well as highlighting the resources and support available to help managers at UoM.

[Unfortunately the virtual sessions that have been advertised are already full.]

Tuesday, 21 February, 9:30 to 4:30pm: TSLD193 Wellbeing at Work for people managers, (1-day in person session).

 

17 January 2023

Dear Members, 

We have some news this week about the upcoming industrial action strategy (and one date!), as well as information about a local solidarity event. We also have a couple of health-related announcements from our wonderful Health and Safety Officer! 

Best regards, 

UMUCU Exec 

 

  1. Industrial action strategy 
  2. Members meeting 25 January 2023, 12:30-1:45, Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: 0161 
  3. Strike solidarity meeting 
  4. Cold, Flu, and Covid advice 
  5. Staff Mental Health resources 

 

  1. Industrial action strategy

As you will have heard by now through emails from the national office, the HEC decided on a strategy of 18 days of action in February/March, plus a re-ballot looking towards a marking and assessment boycott in the spring and summer. At the moment, the only strike date that we know for certain is Wednesday 1 February 2023, which is coordinated with other local unions, and will involve some joint events including a rally in St Peter Square. Other dates should be announced next week. 

  1. Members meeting 25 January 2023

Our next regular members’ meeting is this coming Wednesday, 25 July (next week), from 12:30-1:45 on Zoom: Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: redacted. 

On the agenda: strike days/plans including strike fund/strike pay (IMPORTANT!) and information about the student rent strikers. 

Please join us. 

  1. Strike solidarity meeting

We have a neat little graphic for this, but in case it doesn’t show up properly or you need a screen readable version, there is a Strike Solidarity Meeting scheduled for this coming Thursday, 19 January, at 7pm at the Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess St, M1 6DD. 

It will involve speakers from RMT, CWU, UCU, Unison, Unite, RCN, PCS, GMB, the NEU, and past successful disputes. It’s described as “initiated by Greater Manchester Mental Health Unison Branch and Salford City Unison”. (And we hear that our branch president David Swanson will be speaking briefly…)

  1. Cold, flu, and Covid advice

The usual winter illness season is back, and there’s still Covid around. The university has suggestions about keeping healthy, and advice about what to do if you are feeling ill: 

https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/news/display/?id=29217 

  1. Staff Mental Health Support

The university are now using a service called Validium to help provide support for staff wellbeing and mental health support services. They offer a number of services, including the following (from the StaffNet post): 

More information, including information about how to register for the online portal, is available here: 

https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/people-and-od/benefits/staff-support/workplace-health/mental-health/employee-assistance-programme/ 

 

3 January 2023

Dear Members,

A Happy New Year to you all!

On this first Tuesday of 2023, we only have a couple of announcements: information about an online debate on the industrial action issues, and a reminder about the branch meeting this coming Monday to discuss details of the upcoming action and feed into the Branch Delegates Meeting the next day. Please join us and make sure that your voice is part of the conversation.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  • The Big Debate (fb.me/e/2sZibuODE hosted by the UCU Solidarity Movement)
    Hear different perspectives on what UCU’s Higher Education industrial action strategy should be, ahead of the January Branch Delegates Meeting.  Ask questions and have your say.  All welcome.
    7pm Thursday 5th January
    Register: bit.ly/PreBDM2023
  • Emergency Branch Meeting: 9 January, 12:30-1:45
    Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: redacted
    The formal set of questions we’ll talk about is available here, but we can discuss the issues more broadly, including alternative ideas.

 

19 December 2022

Dear Members, 

There is a lot of discussion about upcoming action. Thanks to everyone who attended our members’ meeting last week, and who is engaging in other ways. We have another meeting scheduled for 9 January to discuss what we should feed up to the Branch Delegates Meeting on 10 January. On the same topic, there is a debate tonight being hosted by Essex UCU about industrial action strategy. 

A few other things as well: some information about pay deductions for the November strikes, our thanks for the feedback that you’ve sent us, and a notice about branch emails over the holidays. 

With best wishes for a peaceful break, 

UMUCU Exec 

 

  1. Upcoming Action/Meetings 
  2. Debate on Industrial Action Strategy (Today! at 6pm! Online!)
  3. Pay Deductions 
  4. Thank you for your comments 
  5. Branch emails in the next month 

 

  1. Upcoming Action/Meetings

We have an emergency branch meeting on 9 January, 12:30-1:45 to talk about industrial action strategy, and be able to instruct our branch delegates for the branch delegates meeting the next day. 

Zoom: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 pw: redacted 

We will send out the questions/topics when we have them. In the meantime, if you want to read various opinions about the possible actions, the University of Edinburgh UCU has been collecting articles discussing the matter from different angles: https://www.ucuedinburgh.org.uk/indefinite-or-not You might also want to join the Zoom debate (next item!)

Please note that we are not endorsing any particular position, and that although the Edinburgh site invites other links to other points of view, not all points of view may be represented currently. If you know of other articles on the topic, please do submit them there using the email provided.

  1. Debate on IndustrialActionStrategy️- Monday 19 Dec (TODAY!), 6pm on Zoom 

Register here: https://tinyurl.com/EssexUCUDebate 

Indefinite action? Discontinuous escalation? What kind of action must we take to win the #UCURising campaign? Essex UCU will be hosting a live and interactive debate with spokespeople for different forms of industrial strategy, open to all UCU members. This event has been quickly organised to respond to widespread desire for an open and comradely conversation on our best way forward as a union. Members need to know the considerations and stakes involved in competing proposals for action in order to reach an informed point of view, especially ahead of January’s pivotal Branch Delegate and HEC meetings. We hope Monday’s event can contribute to our union’s democratic decision-making processes.  

The event will include time for audience Q&A, and a recording will be circulated for those who cannot attend.  

Speakers:  

– James Brackley, U Sheffield and Candidate for NEC Treasurer (unaligned) 

– Chris Williams, Open University, and UCU Commons 

– Deepa Driver, U Reading, NEC and National Negotiator and Candidate for Treasurer, UCU Left 

– Tom Hobson, Cambridge UCU Branch Secretary 

  1. Pay Deductions

We’re not sure when pay deductions for the November strike action will appear, but for those whose are not hourly paid, know where they are on the pay scale, and want to check how much their deduction would be, check here: PayDeductionByPayGrade.xlsx Remember though that there is strike pay available, up to £75/day for those under £30k/year and up to £50/day for those over. 

4. Thank you for your comments

We are very grateful to all the members who have provided anonymous feedback to us using our feedback link. Some of these issues we are already discussing, others we have raised because of your feedback, and still others we will be raising in the new year. If you have an issue that you would like to raise anonymously, please use our online form to do so: https://forms.gle/AbDwcaR3QxVjW8nVA. 

 5.Branch emails in the next month

We’ll be having a bit of a break from the weekly branch emails. This will be the last scheduled one until January, but if there is urgent breaking news, we will let you know. 

 

13 December 2022

Dear Members,

We have few but important things this week, so please read. There is some news about the next steps in our dispute, although not a lot of detail at this point. Please join us tomorrow for a members’ meeting (where we can talk through some of this). A reminder to take the leave and vacation time that you are due! And finally, a very quick note about the latest JNC/NCC meetings that the branch has with the SLT.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Industrial Action Update
  2. Members’ Meeting TOMORROW 14 December, 12:30-1:45 (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW: 0161)
  3. University Closure and Annual Leave Reminder
  4. Update from JNC/NCC meeting (joint union and SLT)

 

  1. Industrial Action Update

You may already have seen that there is news from the national UCU office announcing two courses of action for the new year. The first is a marking and assessment boycott beginning in January. The second is an all-out strike, with no pre-determined end date, to start in February. At this stage, there is still quite a lot of discussion that will happen before either of those, and we don’t have any other details.

Over the next weeks before January, we as a branch will need to have conversations about what the Marking and Assessment Boycott could look like here, including how colleagues with no marking duties can help support the action, and more detailed guidance for those who are participating.

Both of these actions will be difficult. We encourage you to remember two things: first, that we are doing this for the long-term health of the sector, as well as for our own more immediate needs and those of our colleagues. And many of our students know this. Second, that the best industrial action is one that we end up not having to take. Let’s show employers how committed we are, and push them to help resolve the dispute so that in the end, we don’t actually have to strike. Our turnout in the November strike action is a great start to this. Keep it going. Some things you can do in the short term:

  • Join our branch meeting tomorrow 14 December, from 12:30-1:45, on Zoom (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW: redacted).
  • Keep an eye out for an announcement from the branch about a local branch meeting where we will talk about questions from the National office that will feed into the Branch Delegate Meeting (10 January)
  • Write to your MP using the UCU form to encourage them strongly to support us in our fight: https://www.ucu.org.uk/ucuRISING-EmailYourMP
  • Let your students know about this decision, and encourage them to write to Senior Leadership to tell them to do what they can to find a resolution (template coming soon here Materials for Dec2022-Feb2023- Finalized Versions)
  1. Members’ Meeting

A reminder that we have a members’ meeting (as mentioned above as well) tomorrow, 14 December, from 12:30-1:45, on Zoom. (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW: redacted).

  1. University Closure and Annual Leave Reminder

A quick reminder to people that the university is officially closed on the following dates: 28-30 December, and 2 January. With those days coming up, and many people taking some annual leave, it seems like a good moment to remind people that we should all be taking our annual leave each year! These are part of our conditions of employment, and in general, but especially in the context of ongoing ASOS (working to contract at the moment), we shouldn’t be donating extra working time to the University. If your workload or schedule is such that you feel like you can’t take either these days or your annual leave, you should consult your line manager. You should be given pay or time off in lieu for closure days or bank holidays worked, and your line manager should address your workload if it’s unmanageable in your contracted working hours.

Please see the P&OD website for more information about entitlement to annual leave, bank holidays, and closure days: https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/people-and-od/current-staff/leave-working-arrangements/bank-holidays-closure-days/

  1. Update from JNC/NCC meeting (joint meeting with SLT)

On Thursday 8 Dec, UCU met with SLT representatives for final JNC/NCC of 2022. We discussed and agreed actions in relation to EDI, SEP and promotions among other priorities. We’ll try to provide a summary in the next update.

 

6 December 2022

Dear Members,

This week, a quick update about the ongoing dispute, and announcements about three local branch-sponsored or recommended events (unfortunately two at the same time!).

For guidance on strike/ASOS/ILO reporting, please see the separate email that was sent earlier today.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

  1. Industrial Action update
  2. Equalities Network event: LGBTQ+ meetup 7 December, 2-3pm
  3. Equalities Network event: Anti-racist Teaching Network talk by Rizwaan Sabir, 7 December, 2-3pm
  4. Branch pizza and beer, 15 December from 5 pm

 

  1. Industrial Action update

Our action so far has definitely had an effect: UCEA have come back to the negotiating table (on pay and conditions), which is a first necessary step. You may have seen the email yesterday from UCU General Secretary Jo Grady encouraging people to keep the pressure on by emailing their MPs, through the UCU website: https://www.ucu.org.uk/ucuRISING-EmailYourMP.

It is not yet clear, however, exactly what will be happening in the new year, and we will simply need to wait for more concrete information on that. In the meantime, for the avoidance of doubt, we are still engaging in ASOS (action short of a strike) as it has been defined for this period (see here for details: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs).

As a branch, we’ll be having discussions about how to make ASOS effective, and planning aspects of what a marking boycott might look like and how non-marking staff could help. Note however that some of this is advance planning, since there is currently no marking and assessment boycott happening or announced. If you would like to participate in these conversations, please email us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

An email went out earlier today to members in the branch with guidance on reporting strike activity, ASOS, and missed ILOs. The very short version is this: don’t use the form (at least not yet), report strike action if asked directly by your line manager, don’t report ASOS, and there’s a suggested template for reporting about “missed” ILOs.

  1. Equalities Network event: LGBTQ+ meetup 7 December, 2-3pm

The UCU branch Equalities Network meet up for LGBTQ+ members is Wednesday 7 December 2-3pm on zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91764549977 The meet up is open to any UCU members who identify as LGBTQ+. This meet up will be an opportunity to connect with fellow LGBTQ+ members and possibly plan for a branch campaign and/or event(s) for LGBTQ+ history month.

  1. Equalities Network event: Anti-racist Teaching Network talk by Rizwaan Sabir

The MIE (Manchester Institute of Education at UoM) Anti-racist Teaching Network invites you to a conversation with Rizwaan Sabir on 7 December 2-3pm in Ellen Wilkinson Building – room C3.19-20.  Please sign up for the event via the Eventbrite link and note that this will be an in person event.

In this conversation Rizwaan will talk about his new book ‘The Suspect: Counterterrorism, Islam and the Security State’ and what led to him to write the book, the securitisation of the education system and the impacts of counterterrorism in education institutions and on Muslim students. Rizwaan is a Lecturer in Criminology at Liverpool John Moores University. His research, which is focused on examining British counterterrorism, was motivated by his wrongful arrest and detention for suspected terrorism when he was found in possession of the Al-Qaeda Training Manual he downloaded for his postgraduate research. In addition to briefing policymakers such as the Shadow Home Secretary, the United Nations, civil society and community groups as well as lawyers, he offers analysis and commentary in the broadcast and written media including BBC NewsSky News, and Al-Jazeera. You can find out about Rizwaan’s book here and there will be a few copies available at the meeting to purchase.

  1. Branch Pizza and Beer at Sandbar, 15 December

Join other branch members for pizza and drinks at the Sandbar from 5pm. Some pizzas and your first drink on us.

 

29 November 2022

The continuing big news this week is of course our strike action. We had great turnout for pickets on Thursday and Friday, and hope to keep going strong tomorrow. Below, we have a schedule for activities here in Manchester tomorrow (Wednesday) for our final currently-scheduled day of strike action, a message of support from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, our guidance about reporting strike action after it’s over, and a reminder about strike pay and our hardship fund. Finally, we have a small shift to report in how the University talks about its role in the whole system of national negotiations, which we hope will lead to a bigger shift…

Best regards as always, and see you on the picket lines,
UMUCU Exec

1. Wednesday 30 November: Strike Day Schedule
2. Message of Solidarity from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
3. Guidance on Reporting
4. Reminder about strike pay
5. Local progress?

1. Wednesday 30 November: Strike Day Schedule
• Picketing from 8am as usual, with breakfast available in SU through the morning
• 11am: Lloyd Cawthorne memorial, outside Schuster Building (back left Brunswick corridor). There will be a collection for mental health charities.
• 12 noon: Strike meeting in The Hive, 1st floor SU (how it’s gone, what we do next, plus ideas for creative ASOS)
• 1pm: live stream of national rally in The Hive, SU
• 2pm: Free drinks and pizza in SandBar, Grosvenor Street

Always, for those able to picket in person and those not: digital picket (don’t post on social media about work, but post about the strike and about sector issues), emailing your MPs, talking to people about the strike, taking care of yourselves.

2. Message of Solidarity from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
We have received the following message from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham:

First Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis have exposed so much of what is wrong with this country.

We will never get the education system we need when so many people working within it are living in fear of not being able to pay the rent.

It’s time to fight back against the culture of low pay, casualisation and insecurity at one end; of high and excessive pay at the other; and against the marketisation of education and other public services.

On this day of action, we send a message of solidarity to UCU members from across the country taking a stand and calling for change in education.

3. Guidance on Reporting
Our current guidance on reporting is that you should report that you were on strike if asked directly by your line manager.

We recommend that colleagues do NOT use the form that the University has developed, for which links have been sent out in some areas. There have been some serious concerns with these types of form in the past, including some misleading wording, as well as the problem of how, where, and for how long the information is stored.

The University has invented deadlines for reporting. If you can reply to a line manager’s request for reporting within the deadline, that’s great, but do note that since reporting is not actually mandatory, the deadlines cannot be final, and the university could not legally enforce any penalty for late reporting.

4. Reminder about Strike Pay and Hardship Fund
If you would like to apply for strike pay from the fighting funds (national or local), you’ll need evidence of lost wages. For some workers, this evidence may be in the form of a payslip showing strike deductions. For others (e.g. hourly-paid workers on irregular contracts), other forms of evidence may be provided instead. Whatever your situation, we will help make sure that you’re able to claim appropriately.

The application for the national fund can be found here: https://my.ucu.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/429/~/ucu-fighting-fund-2022

The national fund will cover strike pay for the second and subsequent (in this case, third) days of strike action, but not the first day. However, the local fund can cover the first day, at the same rates (less than or equal to losses), for anyone eligible for strike pay from the national fund.

The Branch also runs a hardship fund, which can be applied to for additional assistance to members facing financial hardship.

  1. Local Progress?

We note a shift in the language that the University is using around the national negotiations, towards acknowledging that universities do have influence over the positions taken by the groups that negotiate on their behalf (UCEA for pay/conditions, UUK for pensions). In a recent Mancunion article, a University spokesperson is quoted as saying that “Pay and the USS pension agreements are negotiated nationally, by UCEA and UUK respectively. As with all Higher Education Institutions, we input into these discussions and decisions.” Previously, the University spokespeople would use the first sentence to claim that the university had no power to affect negotiations.

Now that they have acknowledged that they do in fact have the ability to provide input on these subjects, perhaps the next step is letting us know what positions they have actually taken and what input they have given.

(Read the full article here: https://mancunion.com/2022/11/25/come-and-join-us-says-jo-grady-at-ucu-strikes/)

 

22 November 2022

 

Dear members,

We have quite a lot of information for you this week, mostly but not entirely about the upcoming strike and action short of a strike. First, a reminder that we have a members’ meeting tomorrow, so please come, especially if you have any questions about the upcoming action. Then, a note about nominations for the Extraordinary Senate Elections, for colleagues in FSE and FBMH, and an announcement about an activist group and rally about the protests in Iran. Finally, lots of information about the industrial action, starting with an announcement of a strike fundraiser happening this Saturday, to support the strike fund (which, remember, is money that’s available to colleagues who would have financial hardship otherwise going on strike—there’s a section on that too!).

See you on the picket lines! (And at the meeting tomorrow),

UMUCU Exec

  1. Members’ Meeting: 23 November (tomorrow), 12:30-1:45 on zoom
  2. Extraordinary Senate Elections 2022
  3. Iran Solidarity Group and Rally
  4. Industrial Action
  5. Strike Fundraiser
  6. Strike Information (multipart)

 

  1. Members’ Meeting: 23 November, 12:30-1:45

Zoom (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW: redacted).

Please bring any questions about the industrial action, as well as thoughts or suggestions and plans for events!

  1. Extraordinary Senate Elections 2022

You may already be aware that this is going on; the Senate is being expanded following a governance review, and part of this is a special election to add to the number of Senators. Apparently, not enough nominations have been received from colleagues in FSE and FBMH, so the deadline for nomination has been extended just in those faculties, until 29 November at 12 noon.

A number of our members are or have been senators, and we encourage you to consider putting yourself forward for this.

From the email sent to FSE and FMBH colleagues:

Further information on the membership and responsibilities of the Senate plus information about the vacancies (including eligibility for election) is available here:

https://www.mi-nomination.com/manchesteruni

Questions should be sent to Mark Rollinson: elections@manchester.ac.uk

  1. Iran Solidarity Group and Rally

Members of our branch have formed the group Red Roots Collective along with other Iranian activists in Manchester. In conjunction with Manchester Trades Council, they have called a rally on Sunday 27 November, more details below. We urgently need some volunteers to steward the rally – please email Fiona from the branch exec at fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk if you are able to help or if you know anyone or are involved with any organisations that may be able to contribute. And please do feel free to attend even if you are not able to steward!

Woman! Life! Freedom! Rally of Solidarity with Social Revolution in Iran

People of Iran are struggling for rights of women, workers, students, ethnic minorities and other repressed communities. Manchester Trade Union Council, in collaboration with Red Roots Collective – a local group of Iranian Activists – have decided to raise the voice of women, trade unionists and revolutionary activists inside Iran. Please join us on 27 November 1pm, St Peter Square, in front of central library and bring all your banners and trade union flags!

  1. Industrial Action!
  2. Strike fundraiser

Members have organised a strike fund fundraiser at the Derby Brewery Arms (M8 8PY) on Saturday 26th November featuring Manchester DJs Rosa, Cutwerk, marieavril and Tom Gillespie. All proceeds go to UCU strike funds.

Doors at 4pm, children and young people welcome till 7pm. Tickets from £5 – £20, depending on salary.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gig-economy-strike-fundraisers-for-greater-manchester-ucu-tickets-463507281757

 

  1. Strike Information
  • Picketing (including info for those new to picketing)
  • Events (March and Rally, meetings, teach-outs)
  • Food
  • 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?”)
  • Reporting action

 

  1. 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, tunnel entrance), 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:

  • MECD
  • University Place
  • Brunswick Park Avenue, Oxford Rd entrance
  • 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.

Many members have expressed a desire for later (or additional) picketing, so we will also have a shift from 10.30-1.30 at the Quad Arch (with additional picket lines branching off if sufficient numbers. If you would like to be part of this you can let us know via this form. [https://forms.gle/C2m2SKSmKtQRotgx7]

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 cool and possibly rainy, 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. Many people also bring their own food and hot drinks. Feel free to make your own signs to bring as well.

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 the steps in front of the Chaplaincy, 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 officially 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. 😊

  1. Refreshments

Hot drinks and pastries available from the Nest, ground floor, Students’ Union from 9, and hot rolls from 10.30.

Thu 24th from 12 and Wednesday 30th from 2: Free drinks and pizza in SandBar, Grosvenor Street.

iii. March and rally, meetings, and teach-outs

The big events are the following: a National Demo in London on 30 November, and a march and rally here in Manchester on 25 November.

March and Rally: 25 November. Joint event with local UCU branches, MMU Unison workers, and CWU (postal) workers who are also on strike that day. Assemble at 11:15 at the Quad arch, march from 11:30 up to a rally in St Peter’s Square starting at 12. Speakers include UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

National Demo: 30 November, London. We’ll be organising some coaches to go (approx. 7am-10pm); fill out this form as soon as possible if you’re interested: https://forms.gle/C2m2SKSmKtQRotgx7. We’ll also live stream the demo in the Hive, in the Students’ Union at Manchester, from 1pm if you can’t make it to London.

Other events, by day…

Thursday 24 November

8-1:30 Picketing all over (see section i above)

9-9:30am Picketing at the Quad

We encourage everyone to join the group in the Quad for a while this morning, as the BBC will be filming.

Teach Outs

 

UMUCU anti-casualisation meeting, 11am at the branch office (Crawford House, entrance from Booth Street East).

Please join us after morning picketing (and before the drinks and pizza at Sand Bar). All GTA and fixed-term members and others employed on casual and insecure contracts (and their supporters) are very welcome. We’ll have an informal discussion of organising, negotiations and other anti-casualisation issues: precarious workers comprise around half of all UCU-eligible staff at UoM, and our employment conditions are vitally important for the whole branch.

Drinks and pizza from 12 in SandBar, Grosvenor Street.

Friday 25 November

8-1:30 Picketing all over (see section i above)

Big march and rally in St Peter’s Square (see above)! 11:15-1pm.

Teach Out

1-2: Utopian Futures, Students Union, Room 2.2

Wednesday 30 November

8-1:30 Picketing all over (see section i above)

Joint activity with NEU sixth form strikers after picketing, and live streaming of national demo in Hive, Students’ Union, 1pm.

Drinks and pizza from 2pm in SandBar, Grosvenor Street.

  1. Planning and Organisation

To join the UMUCU whatsapp for the industrial action, please add your name and number here: https://forms.gle/C2m2SKSmKtQRotgx7.

  1. Email away message

We recommend putting up an out-of-office reply on your email for days that you will be on strike.

You can find some sample replies here: Strike-OutOfOfficeMessages.docx

We also have a sample out-of-office reply for ASOS days (which start 23 Nov): ASOS-OutOfOfficeMessage.docx

  1. 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. We’re not exactly sure yet what it will be for this action, but for the previous few actions, strike pay has been £75/day for anyone earning under £30,000/year and £50/day for anyone earning over £30,000/year. You can usually 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). In previous strikes, the local branch has supplemented this by offering strike pay for any day not covered by the national fund. 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.

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

vii. 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, or afterwards to make up for “missing ILOs”, please contact ucu@manchester.ac.uk as soon as possible.

viii. Reporting Action

There is no requirement to report that you are going to take action before you take it.

After the action, you can be asked if you took action. We do encourage colleagues to report that they have taken action, as this means that the university get a sense of the strength of the action. However, legally, you are also allowed to simply not respond (you cannot lie, though).

For the last few strikes, the university have been increasingly asking teaching staff to report whether any ILOs were missed due to strike action, and threatening further pay withholding if teaching staff who were on strike don’t report this, or report a plan to make up for any missed ILOs. We recommend something like the following as a response:

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 treated holistically, and 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.

You can of course edit it as you see fit, to reflect your own teaching situation.

 

15 November 2022

Dear Members,

This week, we’re mostly but not entirely about the upcoming strike days and action short of a strike. First, an announcement about next week’s members’ meeting, then a call for feedback about how the SEP (any stage) is affecting you, directly or indirectly. We have a link to a folder with sample/template materials that you can use around the strike, and then some key information to keep in mind about the upcoming action.

As always, best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Members’ Meeting 23 November, 12:30-1:45
  2. Call for Feedback: SEP stories
  3. Sample/Template Informational Materials and Emails
  4. Key Advance Strike Information
  5. Strikes and Neurodivergent Colleagues

 

  1. Members’ Meeting 23 November, 12:30-1:45

Our next scheduled Members’ Meeting is 23 November (next Wednesday), from 12:30-1:45 on Zoom (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW redacted).

The only agenda item is discussing our activities and strategy during the strike. Plus AOB.

  1. Call for Feedback: SEP stories

As part of our ongoing attempts to hold the University leadership accountable for the consequences of the restructures they implement, we’re asking for feedback on the ongoing effects of the Student Experience Programme in different areas. Please use this anonymous feedback form to tell us how you’ve been impacted by the SEP, even if indirectly.

We’re looking to share this information with other members as well as with the SLT, so please indicate either if you have an objection to us sharing your anonymous story, or, alternatively, if you’d be happy to go public and share your story at a future branch meeting or on our website. And thanks so much for your help.

  1. Sample/Template Informational Materials and Emails

We have set up a folder in which we’re putting a variety of samples or templates for members who want them: slides explaining union activity and industrial action, communications to students about the strike, email out-of-office replies, draft emails to MPs, to university senior leadership… They’re not all there yet (still missing emails to MPs and senior leadership), but they’re arriving. If you’re looking for something, start there. If it’s not there, then let us know what you’d like! It might already be in the works, or we might be able to add it to the list of materials to create.

The folder is here: Materials for Nov2022-FinalizedVersions

  1. Key Advance Strike Information
  • What’s on
  • Comms during the strike
  • Financial hardship information
  • Notifying students
  • Requests from management
  • Information coming next week

What’s on

During the strike days, we’ll be running a variety of events and activities, including picketing at various locations on all three of the strike days, teach-outs (informational/educational sessions on a variety of labour-related topics), possibly some walking around, probably a rally, maybe some labour-related carol singing. We’ll have a more complete and detailed list next week for you. If you can plan to come to campus one or all of the strike days, please do! You can sign up for picketing here: https://forms.gle/C2m2SKSmKtQRotgx7, but while signing up is great for us to know that there will be people, you can also just stop by!

The same form also has a question about whether you would like to attend the national demo on 30 November; if there is enough interest we might be getting a coach for branch members to go together!

Comms during the strike

A lot of information during the strike days goes out via various WhatsApp groups. To join the UMUCU WhatsApp for the industrial action, please add your name and number here (same form as the picket sign-up above).

Financial hardship information

This one is really important! A lot of people say that they can’t strike because they can’t afford to lose pay. Unions know that this is an issue, though, so we have strike pay! We don’t have the details for this round yet, but the basic idea is that you can get paid a certain amount by the union for days on which you were on strike and therefore didn’t get paid. Last round, the amount was £75/day for anyone earning under £30k/year, and £50/day for anyone earning over £30k/year. The national fighting fund will often cover starting on the second or third day, but in those cases, our local branch fighting fund will cover the first day or two.

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

Notifying students

There is no requirement to tell students in advance if you will be on strike, but in practice, most of us do! There is a draft email in the folder mentioned in point #3 above: Materials for Nov2022-FinalizedVersions

Requests from management

We haven’t heard yet about anyone being pressed by line managers or others to declare in advance whether they will be on strike or not, but as a reminder: you do not have to (and should not) notify anyone in advance about your intent to strike. It’s not illegal for them to ask, but we’re not obliged to reply.

Information coming next week

Next week we’ll have more information including more details about picketing and other events, a bit of a primer on picketing for anyone who hasn’t done it before (or anyone who wants a refresher), information about food and drink, health and safety, and some reminders about various things.

  1. Strikes and Neurodivergent Colleagues

We’re aware that for many reasons, strikes and ASOS can be particularly challenging for neurodivergent colleagues. We’re trying to be really clear in our communications and to make sure that we provide as much support as we can, but please let us know if there is anything that we’re missing or anything else we could do to help, at ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

The Sheffield UCU branch has produced this document as well, that addresses some of the issues that colleagues may face with this kind of disruption:

http://ucu.group.shef.ac.uk/autism-and-strike-action-guidance-for-autistic-workers-and-ucu-branches/

 

1 November 2022

Dear Members, 

 A week on and we’re still buzzing about our ballot results. But while we wait to hear what the final decision is about any action, other work continues! This week, some information about what happens next, now that balloting is successfully completed, an invitation to disabled branch members to an online meet-up, a request to fill out the second timetabling survey, a survey for anyone experiencing Long Covid, and a reminder about our template for letting students know what’s going on with the ballot and possible industrial action.

Best regards as always,

UMUCU Exec

  1. Industrial action next steps 
  2. Branch disabled members online meet-up, 3 Nov, 2-3pm (Zoom) 
  3. Second timetabling survey 
  4. Long Covid at work survey 
  5. Communicating with students about potential industrial action 

  

  1. Industrial action next steps

USS and Pay and conditions disputes 

*Breaking news* UCEA, who negotiate on behalf of employers around issues of pay (or rather, who should negotiate, since it’s been a while since they bothered trying), have apparently now requested a mandate from employers to re-engage with negotiations! This is the start of the kind of result we were hoping a strong ballot would help achieve: getting the universities’ representatives back to the negotiating table. Now they just need to negotiate in good faith!**

After the best ballot turnouts we’ve ever had, nationally and locally, we now wait to hear what action we will be taking. Branch delegates met on Monday, and the Higher Education Committee meets on Thursday to finalise the decision. After that, legally, employers have to be told before we are. We should know by Tuesday 8 November.

Our best guess at the moment is that there are likely to be some strike days in the week starting on 21 November; possibly some days the week after; and possibly a marking boycott started by December. In spring we expect more hard-hitting strike action if the dispute isn’t settled, including a marking boycott if it hasn’t started earlier.

Despite the uncertainty, we need to prepare now for November strikes and a potential marking boycott. We also want engagement in the action to match the heights reached in the ballot turnout. Please let us know how often you are likely to picket, where, and what times here. This form also lets you sign up to the branch (and local) WhatsApp groups, so you can keep up-to-date with news and discussion during the disputes.

We also have two meetings next week to discuss plans for the upcoming action: a) Wednesday 9 November, from 1.30-2.15 (note later time than usual Wednesday meetings) and Friday 11 November 12-12:45, both on https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 [check your email for the password]. We are also asking all activists who worked on the ballot to work now on getting high engagement in the disputes. We’d suggest first calling a local meeting, whether online/in-person or more informally over coffee/drinks, to get the ball rolling in your area. Then follow this up by approaching individuals to sign up to picketing etc. 

 

  1. UCU Branch disabled members online meet-up

Please join us! 

3 November, 2-3pm  

Zoom Link – https://zoom.us/j/91727247002 Password – 396621 

Hosted by Disabled Members’ Officer Josh Woodcock 

 

If you’re interested in being included in the Equalities Network mailing list, you can sign up here:  

 

  1. Second timetabling survey

We’ve been asked to flag this up to people by Steve Pettifer, who is the academic lead for the timetabling project. You can find information on the project overall here: https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/timetabling/, and a summary of the results from the first survey here: https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/timetabling/how/the-outcome-of-our-first-survey/  

The survey is here: https://www.qualtrics.manchester.ac.uk/jfe/form/SV_3Ra2D5MpNPjUDMqThe deadline for completing the survey is 14 December 2022. 

 

4. Long Covid at work survey

Do you have, or have you had Long Covid symptoms? The TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group are interested in the experiences of people with Long Covid in the UK. This survey aims to better understand how workers with Long Covid have been treated in the workplace and what support is needed. The survey is for people with Long Covid currently in and out of work. 

Long Covid is the term used to describe COVID-19 symptoms that extend beyond the initial infection. 

The survey will take around 15-20 minutes to complete. If you have any questions, need any support completing the survey or require the survey in a different format, please email Alice Arkwright on aarkwright@tuc.org.uk 

 

  1. Communicating with students about potential industrial action

Again, we encourage members to let their students know what is going on and what might happen due to industrial action. Do feel free to use our template, or of course you can write your own message. 

 

25 October 2022

Dear Members,

You may have heard by now about our amazing ballot results: in our aggregated ballots we got 57.8% turnout on pay (with 81.1% voting for strike action), and 60.2% turnout on pensions (with 84.9% voting for strike action). That second set of numbers means that actually over 50% of eligible voters chose strike action, not just a majority of people who voted! These are record numbers for the education sector, and we’re incredibly pleased with the result. Kudos all around to everyone who helped make this happen! Full information here, including data about how important and historic this victory is: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12581/University-staff-vote-for-UK-wide-strike-action-in-historic-ballot

Universities and UCEA (who negotiate for pay) are predictably coming out with statements about how disappointed they are with this result, and how they understand that things are tough, but that it’s just not fair for us to do this to the students. We think that there are a lot of things that aren’t fair, starting with expecting us to be able to do our best work and support students as well as possible while teaching under the current conditions: continually declining pay, increasing casualisation, erosion of pensions, sky-high workloads, inequality.

Manchester in particular has said that they are disappointed with the outcome, and that they are already working to mitigating the impact of the strike on students and “ensure they continue to receive the experience they deserve”. We are disappointed with the continued need to fight for our members’ pay, pensions, and working conditions. And we would argue that students deserve much more than staff who are overworked and underpaid, with major and legitimate concerns that have been dismissed or minimised by their management for over a decade.

Ideally, with such a strong mandate, there will be a lot of pressure on universities to resolve things before it actually comes to industrial action, and despite all precedent to the contrary, we do still hope that this will happen. You can help by making sure that students know what’s going on, so that they can add their voices to the pressure on senior management. There is a template attached that you can use if you would like, written by one of our branch members.

We strongly encourage our local senior management to support their staff and put their (considerable) influence to work by pushing for renewed, good-faith negotiations aimed at truly resolving these issues. We know that they do not directly negotiate with us, but the groups that do are supposed to represent universities, so universities have a responsibility to make their positions known. And if they are in fact making a position known to the groups that is against the interests of staff, then they should own up to that.

As a reminder, we have a members’ meeting tomorrow (12:30-1:30, https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 [check your email for the password]) to discuss our branch position on industrial action and instruct the branch delegates who will go to the branch delegates meeting (more information below). Please join us.

Best regards,
UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Members’ meeting on industrial action strategies
  2. Organising meeting and social on Thursday 27 October

Attachments:

 

  1. Members’ meeting on industrial action strategies: Wednesday 26 October, 12:30-1:30

Please join us to help our branch formulate views on strategy going forward that can be brought to the Branch Delegates Meeting. https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 [check your email for the password]

UCU headquarters have given us some questions to discuss as a branch. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the attached questions, but we’ll also have a wider-ranging discussion of strategy and branch position, so please bring all your thoughts and ideas.

As a reminder in the wake of this ballot, which involved a lot of local organising and person-to-person work, the union is a democratic, participatory organisation. We are our members. Local organisers and activists are simply members like you, who are putting time into the organisation. As branch members, we hope that you will understand the importance of chipping in when there is work to be done (what’s the saying? “Many hands make light work”), and will at least make an effort to participate in our meetings, making sure your own voice is heard and your perspectives represented. (We do know though that not everyone can make the meetings, so this is really just a reminder to try to do what you can and be part of the group in whatever way is possible for you.)

 

  1. Organising meeting and social on Thursday 27 October

There will be an organising meeting on Thursday 27 October from 4-4:50pm in our UCU branch office in Crawford House. (Go to the entrance on Booth St East, and use the door going to the right, which is the same door as for Counselling Services. We’re on the ground floor there, on the left.)

This will be followed by a social at Sandbar from 5-7pm, where we hope to see you for free drinks and pizza (vegetarian and vegan). In particular, we hope that many of our GTVO volunteers will be able to come!

 

18 October 2022

Dear Members,

This week, our final ballot update before the actual results! We also have a quick item about the just-announced Cost of Living Assistance that the University has decided on, information about how members can support our colleagues in the Unison union at Man Met, who are on strike, and a reminder about how to become a Health and Safety Rep (we still need more!)

Best wishes as ever,

UMUCU Exec

  1. Ballot Update
  2. University Cost of Living Assistance
  3. Manchester Metropolitan Unison strikes support
  4. Reminder: Call for H&S Reps

 

  1. Ballot update

With the last safe posting date gone, an amazing 60% of members of the branch have told us they have voted. Our previous best was around 40%! This would have been even higher but for severe delays and non-arrivals of many replacement ballots (yet again). Our actual turnout should still end up being higher, as even with all our badgering, not everyone will have got round to notifying us.

Although there are no guarantees of it arriving in time, it is still worth posting any late ballots (use a priority post-box if you can), and letting us know via https://forms.gle/rnUuLKK6Z9D8Wwnx6. As the ballot is aggregated, our numbers will also help contribute to reaching 50% across the country, and hopefully to reaching even higher, so if you are considering whether to bother sending a late ballot, and whether it would even matter, know that you should and it would.

Some subjects/departments have done amazingly well, with 10 getting over 80% turnout (and Social Anthropology over 90!). Importantly though, we have broken the 50% threshold in every part of the university (Humanities 66%, PS 58%, FSE 55%, FBMH 52%). Thanks so much to everyone who has sacrificed a little (or a lot) of their time, at an intense part of the year, to help achieve this.

What next?

We now wait to hear whether we have achieved the 50% turnout nationally that we need. Results will be out on Monday 24 Oct. We will have an extra general meeting on Wed 26 12.30-1.30 (https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 Password: 0161) to decide what we feed into the national discussions on strategy for the dispute (we will share the options to discuss as soon as we get them). A branch delegates meeting will then take place on Monday 31 October, and a Higher Education committee will make the final decisions on the 3 November. The earliest that action can begin is in the second half of November.

Our thoughts also now turn to how we turn our strong ballot turnout into greater engagement in UCU, both in the ongoing national dispute and beyond. We invite all activists to come to a meeting on Thursday 27 October at 4pm at our offices in Crawford House to discuss this, and/or join us at our regular ‘last Thu of the month’ drinks and pizza in Sandbar from 5 straight after.

 

  1. University Cost of Living Assistance

Our branch welcomes the recent announcement that UoM will make a cost of living payment to staff (https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/news/display/?id=28866). We note though that a more long-term solution needs to involve a suitable, inflation-matching pay rise for all staff. We know that pay is negotiated nationally, but it is done by an organisation (UCEA) that is supposed to represent the interests of the member universities. We would very much like to see UoM clearly declare a position in support of such a pay rise; failure to take such a clear stance is effectively a declaration of support for the current approach of UCEA, which has seen pay erode significantly in real terms despite our negotiators’ best efforts.

UMUCU notes that the University has responded to concerns of our members and the trade unions more generally with regard to who qualifies and how the payment will be made. We continue to hope that in future consultation might happen even earlier prior to the messaging and ideally as ideas are being developed. The current approach (we were given 1hr notice of this decision ahead of its release on StaffNet) means that we can only raise issues that will need fixing and clarification, rather than helping the University develop its plans in such a way that the problems don’t arise to begin with.

 

  1. Manchester Metropolitan Unison strikes

Our branch meeting last week voted to give Man Met Unison a £1000 donation to their strike fund. They have a lot of very low paid members though, so extra individual donations would be very welcome. If you’d like to contribute directly, their bank details are as follows:

Acct. name: Manchester Metropolitan University UNISON Industrial Action Account

Acct. Number: 20243258

Sort Code: 60 83 01

 

  1. Reminder: call for H&S reps

Last Friday, we sent out a more detailed call for anyone who was interested in becoming a UCU Health and Safety Rep. These are important roles for us to fill across the campus, to make sure that we’re able to keep on top of H&S concerns and to represent the UCU on various H&S-related committees and groups. If you’re interested, there is training available, as well as support from colleagues who are already serving as reps. Please email ucu@manchester.ac.uk for more information.


11 October 2022

Dear Members, 

This week we have announcements about a number of events related to Black History Month and equalities issues, as well as a quick update about COVID, which we’ve heard a number of colleagues’ concerns about, and which we’re discussing with the University. We also have an announcement about two national-UCU opportunities: the UCU Equality Groups Conference and the National Executive Committee call for nominations. And last this week (just to mix things up), our second-to-last weekly ballot update! 

Best regards, 

UMUCU Exec 

  1. COVID update
  2. Members’ meeting reminder and motion (tomorrow, 12:30-1:45) 
  3. Black History Month Events 
  4. UCU’s Annual Equality Groups Conference 
  5. National Executive Committee call for nominations 
  6. Ballot update 

  

  1. COVID Update

UMUCU is currently very concerned about the COVID guidance that has been released by the University. This is in the context of a large number of student absences due to COVID, as well as overall rising numbers of COVID across England. 

  • The lack of clarity at the start of term has caused face coverings to be removed from the front of many buildings, and they should be put back as a matter of urgency. 
  • We requested some weeks ago that face coverings be made available in lectures theatres or made available on request, but there has still been no mechanism to support this. 
  • It appears that the COVID reporting is to be removed from Staffnet and the University website, which means the University will no longer be monitoring how many cases of COVID we have on campus. Reporting should now be done through the sickness absence form, which would mean that the University would not be able to see as quickly what the data is like and respond appropriately. It also wouldn’t capture how many staff have COVID and are working from home, nor would it include student COVID numbers. 
  • In addition, the lack of data available to the campus community (reporting of COVID data ended in April 2022) means that people are unable to make informed decisions about the measures that they wish to take individually to protect themselves. 
  • There is no guidance for clinically vulnerable people, which is leading to distress for these members of staff. 

 The lack of clarity is concerning and the reduction in these COVID controls is unnecessary. The University should be leading by example: tracking COVID on campus is one way of managing this risk, and various forms of mitigation are available. Releasing guidance a month after term has started is also irresponsible and contradictory to their vision statement: 

  our vision remains to keep each other safe and well, and our mission is to achieve a high standard of health and safety management by embedding a culture of continuous improvement through effective leadership and collective responsibility 

 UMUCU believe the university should provide masks and sanitiser in all buildings and large teaching spaces. Staff should be empowered to request that masks be worn during meetings/teaching in their private offices and teaching spaces. Students and staff should be given strong and well-publicised guidance not to attend the university if they are suffering from any respiratory illness (including cold-like symptoms) and should also be encouraged to take COVID tests where possible. (Now that COVID tests are not available for free, it would also be great if the University would undertake at the very least to have tests available to community members at cost at locations on campus.)

 Please continue to raise your concerns in your local areas and also contact UCU with your views and concerns. 

  

  1. Members’ Meeting Reminder and Motion

We have our first members’ meeting of the year tomorrow starting at 12:30, and hope to see many of you there (online)! The motion for item 4 is attached. 

https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 PW: (please check your email)

 The tentative agenda is as follows: 

  1. Strike Solidarity Speaker- MMU Unison   
  2. (12.40) Chat about ballot progress and push for GTVO  
  3. (12.50) From ballot into organisation and recruitment and future action  
  4. (1.00) Solidarity with struggle in Iran + motion (motion attached) 
  5. (1.15) USS Update – USS negotiator Deepa Driver, coming directly from that day’s negotiating meeting with USS.  
  6. AoB 

 

  1. Black History Month Events

October is Black History Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate black history and energise black and white activists in the anti-racist fight.

UCU’s Black Members Standing Committee is holding an online Black History Month event, 5.00pm – 6.30pm, on Wednesday 19 October and you can register here: https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/black-activism-today-learning-from-our-history/.

Here are other online and hybrid events during this month which you might be interested in. 

Community Accountability for Racial Justice (as part of Black History Month) 

As part of UCU’s commitment to pursuing racial justice the CPD team have developed this interactive workshop to look at how we can come together to fight for racial justice. The Community Accountability for Racial Justice workshop will explain how UCU’s approach to building lasting communities of allies in this fight will work. The workshop tutors will explain all before participants discuss how they might develop their own Community Accountability for Racial Justice panel. 

 There are two separate dates for this, with online registration for each: 

  • Monday 17 October 2:00pm-3:30pm 

https://cpd.web.ucu.org.uk/events/ucu-community-accountability-for-racial-justice-3/ 

 Thursday 20 October 4:00pm-5:30pm 

https://cpd.web.ucu.org.uk/events/ucu-community-accountability-for-racial-justice/ 

  

The University of Manchester BAME staff network event 

The BAME Staff Network has organised a Black History Month celebration event. 

Main speaker: Dame Elizabeth Anionuw DBE, plus a Networking event with special guests 

Theme: “Belonging – Perspectives of Intersectionality” 

Date: Tuesday 25th October 2022 

Timings: 12:00pm – 3:00pm 

Location: Hybrid event with the on campus venue Core Technology Building 

 

Stand Up To Racism International Conference: How Can We Stop the Racist Offensive? 

Saturday 15 October, Institute of Education (IoE), 20 Bedford Way, London WC2A 2LL and online. You can register here. 

  

  1. UCU’s Annual Equality Groups Conference

UCU’s Annual Equality Groups Conference will be held from Thursday 8 December – Saturday 10 December 2022, in person, in Birmingham. It combines a joint equality conference for black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members as well as dedicated sessions for the five constituencies, joint sessions, various workshops and guest speakers. It is open to any member who self-identifies with one of the constituencies.

The registration deadline is Tuesday 8 November 5pm. You can register online at https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/the-annual-groups-equality-conference-2022/

If you are interested in joining one of the standing committees, you need to register for the conference and be nominated by the branch. Please send queries to ucu@manchester.ac.uk.

Accommodation is paid for by UCU. 

  

  1. National Executive Committee call for nominations

Nominations for officer positions and the National Executive Committee (NEC) are open and all nominations must be submitted by 17:00 on Friday 11 November 2022.
 
All details, including role descriptions are available here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12531/UCU-officer-and-NEC-elections-in-2022-23-call-for-nominations 
 
Officers and the NEC are one of the core democratic mechanisms of UCU. They influence the formation of policy and are responsible for executing it. 

  

  1. Ballot Update

With just over a week to go we have reached 51% notifications! (Although we think our real level might be closer to 60 now). Every vote we get from now will still help add to the national percentage, so let’s keep pushing. 

Data highlights 

Libraries + JRRI have retaken the lead with 86% 

 We now have 12 subjects/departments over our target of 65% (I won’t list them). 10 of those are over 75% 

Well done to the latest areas to get over 50: Human Communication, Development and Hearing; Psychology and Mental Health; and Religions and Theology. Very close to 50 are: Mathematics; AMBS; Philosophy; Chemical Engineering; Neuroscience; Linguistics; and Informatics.    

Sam Alex is still leading Arthur Lewis, 66 to 63%.

 

4 October 2022

Dear Members, 

You may notice that you’re getting this week’s email on a Tuesday rather than a Wednesday; we’re hoping to shift to Tuesdays in general. Happy Tuesday! 

This week, we have a quick statement about rising COVID rates, another ballot update, information about next week’s members’ meeting, the announcement of an additional meeting after the close of the ballot, and a call for volunteers to help assess what a PURE profile for T&S colleagues might look like.

Best regards, 

UMUCU Exec 

  1.  COVID on campus 
  2. Ballot update 
  3. Members’ meeting: 12 October 2022, 12:30-1:45. Agenda and information 
  4. Emergency General Meeting announcement: Wednesday 26 October 12:30-1:30 
  5. Call for help on T&S PURE profile project 

 

  1. COVID on campus

The UMUCU Executive note the rising number of COVID cases and are pressing the University for a suitable response. We hope the University will adopt measures to lessen transmission of COVID and keep the campus as safe as possible, as well as continuing to put effort into effective communication of information to the campus community. If you have any concerns that you would like to share with us, or ask us to pass on, please contact us at ucu@manchester.ac.uk or use our anonymous form: https://forms.gle/AbDwcaR3QxVjW8nVA. 

  

  1. Ballot update

Later this month is the end of the ballot (it closes 21 October, so votes should be mailed at least a few days before), so we’re entering our final push to increase participation. Please, if you haven’t voted yet, find your ballot, fill it out, and post it (and let us know that you’ve done so). If you didn’t get a ballot, or lost it, you can request a replacement: https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/ucuRISING-ballotupdate. 

Let us know that you’ve voted: https://forms.gle/rnUuLKK6Z9D8Wwnx6 

Data highlights 

(These are great numbers, but don’t forget that we’re aiming for really high turnout to show the strength of feeling, as well as because this is a nationally aggregated ballot! Don’t stop now!) 

Social Anthropology have taken a firm lead with 83%, with GDI and Sociology the closest to them with 78% and 77%. 

Well done to the latest areas to reach 50%: History, Central PS, FSE PS, Student Experience PS, Education, University Language Centre (now University Centre for Academic English), IT Services, Materials, Politics, Molecular and Cellular Function, Muskoskeletal & Dermatological, HCRI and Computer Science. Your target is now 70%! 

In our two biggest buildings Sam Alex has now taken a firm lead over Arthur Lewis 57-55%. 

Activities 

In the last two weeks the most important activity will be in local areas, with colleagues being asked/reminded by people they know either f2f or via messages. If you can help us do that, even with one or two people you know, let us know via https://forms.gle/mKrVLEwmwDu1KYNXA 

We can then share info on who hasn’t notified yet in your area and you can let us know who you could approach. 

  

  1. Upcoming Members’ Meeting: 12 October 2022, 12:30-1:45

Our first members’ meeting of the year will be on 12 October, from 12:30-1:45: https://zoom.us/s/96877191504 (password in your email)

 The tentative agenda is as follows: 

  1. Strike Solidarity Speaker- MMU Unison   
  2. (12.40) Chat about ballot progress and push for GTVO  
  3. (12.50) From ballot into organisation and recruitment and future action  
  4. (1.00) Solidarity with struggle in Iran + motion (motion to follow) 
  5. (1.15) USS Update – USS negotiator Deepa Driver, coming directly from that day’s negotiating meeting with USS.  
  6. AoB 

 

  1. Emergency General Meeting, 26 October, 12:30-1:30

We’ll be holding an additional members’ meeting on 26 October, which is after the balloting finishes, to discuss our branch position on potential actions. The discussions from this meeting will be fed into the Branch Delegates Meeting, which makes recommendations about what actions to take based on the ballot. Zoom link and more details will be sent out the week before the meeting. 

 

 5. Call for help on T&SPURE profile project

We’ve been asked to send out the following call for volunteers. The treatment of T&S colleagues is one that we’re particularly interested in, so we encourage you to participate and help improve the support that’s available. 

 

As part of a university wide project, I am looking for academic volunteers to set up and test new PURE profiles to consider what essential Teaching & Scholarship information should/could be added. This would inform the business case for all academics to have a PURE profile and support guidance to follow new T&S users. If anyone without either a) a Pure profile or b) teaching added on their profile, is interested in supporting this, please do get in touch. Dr Miriam Firth miriam.firth@manchester.ac.uk 

 

28 September 2022

Dear Members,

This week, we have another ballot update (with data on what subject areas/buildings are doing best!) this week, plus the announcement of our first members’ meeting of the year, and a reminder to let us know if you’ve been affected by pay delays. We hope you’re all doing well in the midst of this first week of classes!

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Ballot update
  2. Upcoming members’ meeting- 12 October 2022
  3. Pay Delays for Casualised Staff

 

  1. Ballot update

Voting continues. Every vote locally counts toward the 50% needed nationally though so we want to use the last 3 weeks to push our figure as high as possible.

Remember to notify us if you haven’t already via https://forms.gle/rnUuLKK6Z9D8Wwnx6

Data highlights

Libraries/JRRI have now overtaken sociology as our best dept (74% vs. 71%).

Well-done to the latest areas to get over 50% notifications: Modern Languages and Cultures, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Institute for Social Change, Sustainable Consumption Institute and English & American Studies. Education, FSE PS, Computer Science and HCRI are all very close to 50%.

For our largest buildings, despite Sam Alex being briefly in the lead yesterday, Arthur Lewis is now ahead again (but it’s very close: 47.7% vs. 47.6%). For other buildings with more than 100 members, Ellen Wilkinson leads with 44%, and for buildings above 25 members, it’s Coupland 1 with 54%.

Activities

We have a ballot update meeting to discuss the final push in the new UCU offices in Crawford House, 4-4.45 tomorrow (Thursday 29 September) followed by a free drink and pizza in Sandbar. Email ucu@manchester.ac.uk if you’d like to join and need directions to our office.

There will also be phone banking in the office on Monday 4-6, again followed by thank you drinks and pizza in Sandbar. Please email ucu@manchester.ac.uk if you are interested in helping out.

 

  1. Upcoming Members’ Meeting: 12 October 2022

Our first general members’ meeting of the year is on 12 October from 12:30-1:45pm. 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 ucu@manchester.ac.uk or email your local rep in the next few days.

 

  1. Pay delays for casualised staff

We have had several reports from GTAs and other casualised staff about delays in getting paid despite putting in the required paperwork in time according to the payroll deadlines. This seems to be particularly the case where a claim has been made for extra hours worked, for example for exam marking during the summer assessment period. We have raised this issue with P&OD and are in discussions with them so will report back to members as soon as we can. Please continue to contact our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Fiona, if you have been affected: fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk.

 

14 September 2022

Dear Members, 

 Our ballot push continues; please vote and let us know that you’ve voted! (See item 1 below). Apart from that, things are picking up, so we have a few different topics, as you’ll see below! 

 Best regards, 

UMUCU Exec 

 

  1. Ballot information and campaign (again, sorry) 
  2. Payroll delays 
  3. New colleagues 
  4. TA teacher training, 15 Sept 
  5. UoM-funded PGRs and pay rates 
  6. Equalities Network Update 
  7. Staff Survey 

 

  1. Ballot information and campaign

If you’ve already voted and reported that you have done so, thank you! If you haven’t (either part), then please do. Report that you have voted here: https://forms.gle/rnUuLKK6Z9D8Wwnx6 (local info) and here: https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/ucuRISING-ballotupdate (national info), which will allow us to remove you from some of our reminders (some go out to the whole list, but some we can tailor). 

 If you have not gotten your ballot yet, you can now request a replacement ballot by going to https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/ucuRISING-ballotupdate 

 Because the success of our ballot depends in part on having an accurate count of who is eligible to vote (to be able to determine correctly what percent of eligible voters did actually vote), it’s important that we “exclude” anyone who is in any of the following categories and thus not voting: left employment at UoM (probably not getting this email then), retired, out of the country/away for the medium or long term, on parental leave, away for long-term illness. Please complete this form to let us know if any of these apply to you: https://forms.gle/r9SwSEkcEk7SkiVXA 

 We can still use help getting the vote out and reminding colleagues to vote. If you’re interested in helping at any level of commitment, please let us know here: https://forms.gle/mKrVLEwmwDu1KYNXA 

 At the moment, Education is leading the way in terms of responses with 21%, and Coupland 1 is the best building with an amazing 31%! Updates next week, but of course, the ultimate goal is 100% for everything 🙂 

  

  1. Payroll delays

We have been informed by several members about delays with the processing of PR5 and PR7 fees and expenses claim forms. This is hitting our casualised members particularly hard, especially due to the huge increases in the cost of living, with some having to wait several months to be paid what they are owed. A collective response is needed as this is clearly unacceptable; please get in touch with our anti-casualisation officer Fiona (fiona.pashazadeh@manchester.ac.uk) if you are a casualised member who has been affected. 

  

  1. New colleagues

It’s the time of year when we have an influx of new colleagues! We encourage you to have a quick informal chat with any new colleagues who are interested about the union. If they want to join, you can point them towards this website: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join, or if they are already members but need to switch their affiliation to UoM, they can go to https://my.ucu.org.uk/app/utils/login_form/redirect/membership%252Fmy_details/ to do that. 

  

  1. TA teacher training, 15 Sept

The Manchester Free University, which is a grassroots organisation, is running a training session for new teachers. The MFU is essentially an outgrowth of the teach-outs that various groups have run during strike action. Their description of the event: “Join Manchester Free University to learn about teaching in a university, including classroom skills, techniques and pedagogical principles.” The session has been set up to address a perceived lack of training in at least some areas of the university for new teachers. 

 The workshop will be held in person and on zoom on 15 September, from 3-5pm. 

 In person: UoM Students Union, Room B2 

 Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/94192083763 

  

  1. UoM-funded PGRs and pay rates

Manchester Doctoral College are in conversation with the Senior Leadership and the Finance team about matching the stipend increase for UKRI-funded PGRs for university-funded PGRs, and a decision is expected soon. The PGR and UCU reps are in touch with the MDC about this and we hope that the university will commit to match the increase. 

  

  1. Equalities Network Update

Our branch equalities officer put together a set of slides for us recently that you can access, which explains what the Equalities Network is, what its aims are, who is involved, etc. If you’re interested in learning more about equalities at UoM and the EDI work going on in the branch, please take a look: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1P1VqzHNrDSA7RBJOZeQaggNUm75BVNl8uXkGU8gpFrA/edit?usp=sharing

If you’re interested in being included in the Equalities Network mailing list, you can sign up here:  

 

  1. Staff Survey

You will hopefully have seen already that the new staff survey (replacing the one that was pulled last spring because of technical problems) has gone up. We encourage you to take part and let the university know what you think. 

 We do note a few things about the survey: 

  1. Be careful, because some colleagues noticed that at least one question has the answers in the opposite order to other questions, meaning that if you click through quickly, you may inadvertently answer the opposite of what you mean.
  2. There are no free response boxes. If you have a longer-form response that you would like to submit anonymously, you can use our branch anonymous feedback form and we will try to pass on your comments to the appropriate people: https://forms.gle/AbDwcaR3QxVjW8nVA
  3. One of our members has already reported a problem (this time as well as last) that the question on sexual orientation(possible answers: gay/lesbian, straight, bi, or “prefer to self-identify”), implies that some orientations are not “self-identified”. Apparentlythey reported this problem in May, and were told that their concerns were passed on, but the question is still phrased this way this time. They have enquired about it, but have not yet had a response. 

 

7 September 2022

Dear Members,

We hope that you’ve had a good summer and are ready to go again as September starts. As you’ll be aware, we’re gearing up for another ballot, an aggregated ballot in the context of the cost of living crisis and the surplus in the pension fund. We hope that you’ll vote and help us encourage others to vote as well.

This week, we have reminders about the ballot, as well as some information from our ballot organising meeting today.

Best regards,

UMUCU Exec

 

  1. Ballot timeline
  2. Ballot information!
  3. Meeting report

 

  1. Ballot timeline

6 September- Ballots are sent out: 6 September

[8-9 September- Postal strike: ballots unlikely to arrive those days]

14 September- Replacement ballot request form opens

16 October- Cut-off date for new members to be included in the ballot

18 October- last day to request replacement ballots (by NOON!)

18 October- last “safe” posting date

21 October- ballot closes

 

 

  1. Ballot information

Just a few items:

Please complete the ballot as soon as you receive it and send it back! We know that the longer people wait, the more likely ballots are to get buried on desks and forgotten.

Once you’ve voted, please complete the very short form here: https://forms.gle/rnUuLKK6Z9D8Wwnx6 Many UMUCU members will be working hard to get the vote out. Letting us know you have voted will remove you from our lists and save them unnecessary effort. It will also save you from getting annoying messages when you have already voted!

To be excluded from this ballot—if you have left employment at UoM, retired, or are (for the medium/long-term) out of the country, on parental leave, off on sick leave—please add your details to this google form: https://forms.gle/r9SwSEkcEk7SkiVXA as soon as possible.

Don’t worry yet if you haven’t gotten a ballot; we will send around information about what to do to request a new ballot paper once the form to request them opens (after 14 September).

If you can help us with the campaign—contacting colleagues to remind them to vote, putting up information, anything else—please sign up here: https://forms.gle/mKrVLEwmwDu1KYNXA

As always, if you have any questions, please let us know: ucu@manchester.ac.uk!

 

  1. Meeting Report

Our organising meeting today heard from James Rose, who is the secretary of the Unison branch at AQA, who are currently on strike, and from Khalid Mohamed from Unite at Portsmouth, who brought information about strikes in Sudan, and the solidarity network that’s supporting them. We’ll be voting at our next members’ meeting on donating to the strike fund for the AQA workers, and if you’re interested in learning more about the strikes in Sudan, check out this link: https://menasolidaritynetwork.com/sudanstrikes/ that Khalid has suggested.

We also talked about how to keep morale up and how to talk to people about the current campaign.  We’ll be feeding comments up to regional and national offices, and bringing back information for people to help get word out and support everyone who is helping with the campaign.

And we talked about what structures and plans there are for getting out the vote! Again, if you want to help out in any way, please sign up here: https://forms.gle/mKrVLEwmwDu1KYNXA

 

 


Academic year 2021/22

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