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Branch Update 21/4/20

Dear Members,

The UCU-CCCU Branch meeting (in virtual model) will take place on Wednesday 22 April from 12noon to 1pm on 
 
Blackboard Collaborate. Instructions for joining Collaborate Meetings were sent in a recent email to members. 
 
The use of this platform is necessary in order to guarantee the right to privacy for members.
 
Notes on decisions and outcomes will be circulated to all members after the meeting 
The agenda is:
  • UCU-CCCU  Covid-19: update and discussion (see VC’s responses to member’s questions attached)
  • AOB
Please send me any further agenda items.
Also please send to myself Antonio Sama (change and review)( or Christopher Biela ( Health and Safety) your questions for SMT by Friday.
The link for joining the Branch meeting is 
 
Below is the the VC’s response to the first of the weekly questions to SMT initiative set up by UCU CCCU.
WE hope you will join us:

Best Wishes, Stay Well,

Bryan Hawkins

Chair UCU CCCU

Dear Rama,

 

Following your email of 14/7 and your welcome commitment

to enable questions and issues of concern to be raised each week to SMT

the issues and question raised over this week and last week are included below and we request SMT’s and your answers to them.

 

I realise this is also a request for further communication that you may be consider to have been covered elsewhere, or is duplicated effort, but I would urge you to recognise these are, and will be increasingly, requests and questions from members who we can assume are already engaging with information published by SMT and who are being given the impression by you that SMT is interested in and will respond to their concerns.

 

VC – We are absolutely committed to dealing with all queries.  However some staff are simply not going to the ‘Advice and Guidance’ (FAQ) pages.  These pages are extensive and being updated daily.  We must encourage all staff to look at the FAQs first.

 

The questions represent aspects of the staff voice at CCCU and have been collated carefully and we will make efforts to improve this communication process as it develops. Antonio’s and Margaret’s meetings will be of great value here but I would rather not construct responses to members by ascribing to SMT and yourself a position, prior to communication with our hundreds of members, that you have not had the chance to directly consider, or by inferring positions from casework, or by checking FAQ’s previously communicated, or by assuming in the absence of any clear response that SMT are responding negatively to a particular listed request.

 

VC – Thank you.

 

Perhaps you and I might agree times to discuss regularly – fortnightly, or weekly if you prefer – the development of this process and to consider the outcomes of discussions between Margaret and Antonio. We mirror and agree, in this, the need you have identified for communications to be focused and clear and we hope this can be achieved in relation to the important issues, concerns and questions that will raised by UCU CCCU.

 

VC – You already have an ‘open door’ via my email and personal mobile number.  However, I agree that a fortnightly slot for the duration of this crisis is a good idea.  I will ask Alexandra to suggest a regular slot

 

 

UCU Requests week ending 17/7 

 

What representation of teaching staff across Faculties is there within the Assessment Group headed by Helen James and can this representation of the academic voice be improved ?

 

VC – The University, Faculties and Schools have extensive academic committees, groups and post holders largely populated by the academic staff of the University.  Much of the work on learning, teaching and assessment is taken forward through these groups – Academic Board, Academic Strategy Committee, Education and Student Experience committee and its sub-committees; Equivalent Faculty Committees. Faculty and School Directors of Learning and Teaching; Faculty and School Directors of Quality.  In addition Helen is chairing meetings of two key groups.  The Group of Heads of School; The Group of Programme Directors (which is about 50 academic staff).  So there is very significant academic voice in determining how to take forward academic matters during covid-19.

 

Why have UCU CCCU not been offered  the minimum of parity with SU offered by SMT in relation to the Assessment Group?

 

VC – The SU represents all our students.  All 15,000 plus students are members of the SU.  UCU represent a sub-set of staff.

 

In the context of Government Policy members and differing interpretations across Universities staff request clear clarification and posting of  CCCU’s position in relation to  holiday carry-over policy and a clear assurance that staff should not be told by managers when to take holidays, and can choose their holiday requests through StaffNet.

 

VC – Please see FAQ.  There is considerable detail on Annual Leave.

 

In the context of recent internal emails members request that formal responses  requiring personal information on mental health should not be considered normal and if made at all will be handled with care respect for the DPA and  communicated and discussed beforehand with HR and UCU CCCU

 

VC –We will support our staff and students where there are mental health issues in line with our published Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework agreed last year (and which we worked with you and the SU on).

 

What is SMT ‘s position on the UCU National Key Principles?

 

VC – I have already responded to this.  Please see my email of 15 April 2020

 

Will SMT consider a joint  UCU CCCU, SMT statement of intent in relation to the current crisis ?

 

VC – Happy to consider this.  But given that SMT is spending all hours of the day to manage the current crisis we cannot spend too much time and many iterations on a statement.  There are two overriding principles which we are following: the health and wellbeing of all our staff, students and visitors is the highest priority;  As a University we will look to full fill our contractual and moral commitments to our students, staff and stakeholders wherever that is practicable and making adjustments where necessary.  These would form the core of any joint statement.

 

Key Principles

 

understanding that ‘business as usual’ does not apply during the crisis

 

recognising that any related changes to ways of working necessarily rely on the good will of all staff

 

acknowledging that a cooperative, collaborative and trust-based approach between managers and staff is required

 

addressing issues of isolation associated with online working and working from home and recognising they will affect all staff differently

 

facilitating a supportive and non-coercive approach to new ways of working in all circumstances

 

considering the needs of all staff in the implementation of any new processes or procedures, and making them subject to regular review and agreement between trade union representatives and management

 

agreeing rapid escalation routes for the resolution of issues arising from changes to working methods between management and trade union representatives.

 

scheduling regular meetings, at least weekly, between management and unions to review the situation generally and agree appropriate responses to any problems/issues that arise.

 

UCU Requests week ending 10/7

UCU members have requested assurances that:

Middle managers will communicate to staff SMT strategic decisions in a consistent and coherent way and where relevant through clear centralised communication rather than fragmented communications.

 

VC – Yes. There is a whole section in the ‘Advice and Guidance’ for managers.  The purpose is to ensure consistency and equity of arrangements. There will also be a ‘Newsletter for Manager’ published next week.

 

Staff who are following government policy of self isolation or responding to shifting work requirements will not be penalised when it comes to annual leave provision

 

VC – Agree.  Please see FAQ on Annual Leave.

 

The changes in learning and teaching, assessment tasks and procedures will not penalise staff on sessional or casual contracts and will not produce unrealistic requests to sessional staff to “cover” for permanent members of staff

 

VC – These are unprecedented times.  Illness and caring responsibilities are affecting a number of staff. So we will need to utilise all possible staffing resources to deliver our core work.  In doing so we will ensure not to make ‘unrealistic requests to sessional staff’.

 

Staff experiencing redundancy processes will have deadlines paused, as redeployment initiatives have been paused for some weeks now  at CCCU ?

 

VC – In the context of the merger of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities with the Faculty of Education, we discussed the need to move processes on in a way where anxiety of colleagues is minimised so processes were not hanging over people till the autumn (the Enhanced VR process is a good example). Please see my email of 25 March 2020 .  Extending that principle where processes had started before the 20th of March these will be taken forward with appropriate regard to the changed circumstances and with a view to reaching conclusion without letting them drag on.

 

How  are CCCU policies and procedures developing in relation to:

  • Domestic violence and abuse
  • Additional Provision for staff Mental Health

 

VC – Both these points were raised by Antonio at the Silver Group and the University remains committed to the current policies in both areas as the basis for supporting staff.  The Domestic Violence and Abuse Policy was only approved in January this year.  They can be found as follows:

 

 

Avenues for support (both external and internal,  accessible to all) were published on the Covid19 Wellbeing FAQ as well as  the University Staff Wellbeing webpage.

 

 

How will national policies on the following apply to CCCU staff:

How can SMT further act to ensure staff know their entitlement and the procedures for registering for the ‘furlough’ scheme?

 

VC – Government advice to HEIs only arrived on the 18th of April.  We will publish detailed guidance shortly.  The scheme is unlikely to be applicable for most UCU members.

 

A small number of staff who have very recently given in their notice have been effected by the changes resulting from the crisis  these members are continuing to work in unprecedented ways UCU CCCU have urged the University to honour or at least pause retractions of notice made by staff as a result of the crisis. Has the University developed a policy on individuals in this situation?

 

VC – As you know from recent case work we have given this much detailed thought and have established some key tests to enable us to act fairly and equitably to anyone in this position.

 

In the current unprecedented context we are trying to ensure a consistent and equitable approach to requests by reviewing the ongoing need for the role and we do this by using these three key tests:

 

  • Is there a business case for filling the role in the context of the current challenging financial climate?
  • If, yes, has the post been approved by the Staff Recruitment Approvals Group (SRAG)?
  • If yes to the above two points has the process for replacement already started?

 

We’re working to get a Facilities Agreement in place – it shouldn’t be this hard

Facilities Agreements underpin trade union activities in the work place.

They set out what support the employer will give the union to carry out their duties.

They are a vital piece of best practice industrial relations.

Ours is out of date and urgently needs updating to cover:

  • The total time agreed for UCU CCCU officers
  • The funding of UCU CCCU officers which is currently inappropriate, too little and out of step with other universities

Some progress has been made since term two last year. We now have:

  • A UCU office LG69
  • A 0.6 admin support has been provisionally agreed for UCU CCCU
  • Work has been done to draw up a contract to replace the out of date contract in existence

But progress has been slow and we are awaiting SMT to respond to UCU proposals covering.

If progress is not made at the JNCC on Nov 2 UCU CCCU will enter into formal dispute and inform ACAS of failure to achieve basic agreements.

We’re fighting a compulsory redundancy at CCCU

A UCU member has been in our view inappropriately dismissed due to ‘redundancy’.

This is a compulsory redundancy which UCU opposes.

The case is being appealed.

The UCU branch is considering what action, up to and including industrial action, it will take to protect members’ jobs and prevent compulsory redundancies in the future.

The SMT and the governors have all been contacted to inform them of the seriousness of the current situation and of UCU’s national position.

UCU CCCU believe the redundancy need not occur. The cost of loss of goodwill and confidence in SMT that compulsory redundancy will create massively outweighs any short term, short-sighted financial gain.

The Branch will consider what action can be taken to support our member and to protect jobs in the future at our next Branch Meeting.

Currently UCU is taking action in Leeds to protect staff and members from poor management practice and redundancies.

More about Leeds here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/defend-leeds-statutes

Free speech debate to be held on campus with help of CCCU UCU

UCU members have helped organise a free speech debate on the North Holmes Road campus on Thursday January 26.

The event is free and open to the public.

See below for more details:

The Free Speech Debate Panel debate and discussion on the issue of free speech.

Old Sessions House, OG46, Longport, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 1NX Thursday 26 January 2017 (18:00-20:00)

For more information email Jim Butcher: jim.butcher@canterbury.ac.uk

Free speech has become an issue of significant controversy. This debate will assess a number of key questions, including:

  • To what extent should freedom of speech be regarded as an absolute value?
  • Is it possible to draw a clear distinction between speech and action?
  • What constitutes hate speech and should it be banned?

Panelists:

  • Melantha Chittenden – National Union of Students LGBT+ officer.
  • Claire Fox – Director of the Institute of Ideas, BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze panellist, author of ‘I Find that Offensive’.
  • Professor Mark Hammond – former CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
  • Professor James Soderholm – Head of Humanities, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys.

Supported by: Christ Church students’ Union / Engaging Sociology / Politics Matters / CCCU UCU.

This event is open to the public.

Message from Sally Hunt on the EU referendum

Members will have differing views on the result of last Thursday’s referendum on EU membership.

However what is not in doubt is that the UK now faces a period of considerable economic and political uncertainty. That uncertainty extends into the places where UCU members work in three main ways.

First, in practical concerns about the loss of funding for projects within or related to universities and colleges supported by the European Union.

Second, in the impact of the referendum result upon government policy. For example, there is now speculation that the apprenticeship levy from which many colleges hoped to benefit may be postponed or scrapped.

Third, in a sector with a highly international workforce which itself teaches a diverse student body, the impact upon staff and students themselves.

I have therefore this morning written to the UK secretary of state with responsibility for further and higher education and UCU will be making contact too with the devolved administrations seeking some clarity in these three areas on behalf of members.

The referendum campaign has produced a rising tide of racism and hostility to migrant communities, as well as a worrying trend of anti-intellectualism (‘who needs experts?’ and so on). In the face of this universities and colleges have a vital role to play in fighting racism and intolerance and in continuing to promote the benefits of education to both the individual and society as a whole. In short we must stand up for our staff and students and celebrate education for all rather than hide away until the storm passes.

UCU for its part will continue to pursue these values  in line with a statement agreed by the National Executive Committee last Friday which you can read here.

Best regards

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

Latest message from UCU head of campaigns Justine Stephens: #fairpayinHE and victory at Hull College

Dear colleague,

Members will be shocked at the murder of Jo Cox MP. The full sympathy and solidarity of the union goes to Jo’s family, friends and constituents in this time. Jo had a record of supporting the most vulnerable in our society and across the globe in Sierra Leone and Syria. She was killed while doing her job and we share in the outrage of this violent crime.

In this week’s campaigns update:

Taking action for #fairpayinHE
Members at Bath and Bristol universities are taking strike action for #fairpayinHE today – targeting an open day and an open day plus exam boards respectively as part of UCU’s nationally co-ordinated wave of local strike action. Members at Essex and Coventry follow tomorrow, while University of Stirling UCU will on Monday be the first of 24 branches taking action over the course next week. Please help keep the pressure on institutions and send your solidarity to colleagues taking action by using the #fairpayinHE hashtag and see our marvellous wall of support here.

Victory for UCU members at Hull College
UCU members at Hull College have secured both a pay rise and an end to ‘no-notice’ lesson observations, bringing to an end a dispute which saw members taking strike action over the college’s lesson observation methods last month. The college has also finally agreed to implement a pay rise which was originally promised in September 2015, with payments backdated to last August. Congratulations to all at Hull College UCU on their victory.

Also this week:
1. In the news
2. Newcastle University UCU: a fantastic victory
3. Stand with Orlando – we need to come together
4. Release Professor Homa Hoodfar
5. Free professional development opportunities in Leeds and Hull
6. Equality chartermarks survey

Please click here.

All the best

Justine Stephens
UCU head of campaigns

Read the 5 five key findings from the UCU workload report

Dear colleague,

You will remember that earlier this year we surveyed all members to find out more about your concerns around workload intensification and working hours. The report and an executive summary are now available here.

Thank you to the 18,000 members who took the time to respond.

The results are astonishing. Our report has 5 key findings:

  1. staff in both the higher education and further education sectors are working an average of more than two days unpaid every week
  2. workload is unmanageable and unsustainable for the majority of academic staff and lecturers
  3. staff are taking on more responsibility and administration
  4. student expectations have increased
  5. professional and career development is suffering as a result of increasing workload pressures.

The report suggests that it is our members who are bearing the brunt of national policy reforms and increasing competition. The implications for not managing workloads effectively are huge, affecting not only your health and welfare but also the quality of education for students.

We will be working hard this year to provide branches with bargaining advice and support on how to tackle this insidious problem.

Thank you for your support.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

UCU strike 2016: A thank you from Connie, student union support and election of branch committee

Dear colleagues,

What an exciting week! We had great support for the two days Strike action.

Huge thanks to members who stood on picket lines especially in the cold and wet on Wednesday.

Some of you will know that the Student Union have shown their support and solidarity for us by making the Golden Apple Awards ‘a platform for their support’ (Krum).

This was a marvellous show of support and I was very pleased to accept the invitation to speak.

We were joined by a national UCU officer, Chris Nicholas and colleagues from Kent university; led by Krum, the Student Union President we walked in solidarity through Canterbury. Photos will be up on the website soon.

On Thursday we were invited to speak about the reasons for the Strike to the Post Graduate Conference, so thanks to the organisers: Nick Furze and Phil Hurst.

All staff will be shortly receiving an email asking if you were on strike. This is quite normal. The national UCU advice is to tell the truth. School Directors and Deans of Faculty will also be asked to report who they missed. This is more contentious but CCCU does do this. If in fact you chose to be at home marking you cannot have pay deducted; we are not obliged to mark on CCCU premises.

Now of course the hard grind of working to contract begins. Members have asked me what this means.  Basically, check your contract – most lecturers have a contract for 37 hours per week Monday to Friday; but yours may vary. There are guidelines on what the national UCU says on the website www.ucu.org.uk

In other news: the EGM passed the new Branch constitution; I was re-elected as Chair, Chris Harvey Branch Secretary, Richard Henson Deputy Branch Secretary, Bryan Hawkins Vice-Chair, Jim Butcher Treasurer, Ana Fernandez Membership Secretary. The full Branch Committee will be posted on the website.

I will be representing you at UCU Congress in Liverpool from 31st May to 3rd June. Full details will be posted on the website.

Kind regards,

Connie

Follow us on twitter @ucucanterbury

UCU strike 2016: Read the letter these resigning external examiners wrote to The Guardian

Lecture hall

Image: Flickr/Anna/licence

This was published online by The Guardian on Thursday May 26 2016. To see the original post go here.

We write as external examiners whose role is to assure the quality of higher education courses at universities and colleges across the UK, but who have decided to resign in order to support the campaign for fair pay in our sector.

We have resigned because, while as senior academics we believe our role in underpinning the quality of education provided to students is vital, we are all too aware of the unfairness of the current pay policies of our universities and their impact on staff and their students.

We have watched with sadness the pay of academic and professional staff fall in real terms by 14.5% since 2009; we have seen the numbers of casual staff proliferate; and seen universities do little or nothing to reduce the shocking gender pay gap despite having a collective surplus of £1.85bn.

Yet the final straw for many of us is the contention by our employers that the latest final pay offer of 1.1% is “at the limits of what can be afforded” when at the same time we discover that university leaders have themselves received an average pay increase of 6.1%. The blatant hypocrisy of this position is breathtaking.

We love our work as external examiners not least because it brings us into contact with academics from around the country. The high-quality work we see confirms to us that staff deserve better from institution heads.

We have therefore resigned from our external examiner posts and will not be taking up new posts in order to demonstrate that there will be no “business as usual” until we have a commitment from our universities to fair pay in higher education.

We recognise that this is a significant step for any professional to take but urge other external examiners to follow our lead.
Professor Richard Taffler Warwick Business School, University of Warwick
Professor Cathy Urquhart Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Tony Evans Royal Holloway, University of London
Professor Florence Myles University of Essex
Professor Heiko Balzter University of Leicester
Professor Daniel Katz University of Warwick
Professor Robert Miller Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Christian De Cock University of Essex
Professor Glen Jeffery UCL, Institute of Ophthalmology
Professor Thomas Munck University of Glasgow
Professor Jeremy Guggenheim Cardiff University
Professor Cam Donaldson Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor Deborah Mabbett Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Emma Clery University of Southampton
Professor Willy Maley University of Glasgow
Professor Jim Newell University of Salford
Professor Mark Humphries Swansea University
Professor George Kernohan University of Ulster
Professor Martin Conboy University of Sheffield
Professor Ingunn Holen University of Sheffield
Professor Laurie Stras University of Southampton
Professor Laura Lewis University of Southampton
Professor Raymond Bush University of Leeds
Professor David Clarke Newcastle University
Professor Keith Attenborough The Open University
Professor Tess Ridge University of Bath
Professor Melanie Simms University of Leicester
Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex
Professor Adam Rutland Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Malcolm Povey University of Leeds
Professor Rolland Munro University of Leicester
Professor Stephen Salter University of Edinburgh
Professor Paul Johnson University of York
Professor Harriet Bradley UWE Bristol
Professor Susan Page University of Leicester
Professor Dominique Laurence University of Manchester
Professor Dominic Wring Loughborough University
Professor Richard Saundry Plymouth University
Professor Eleanor Spaventa Durham University
Professor Victor Van Daal Edge Hill University
Professor Frederic Fol Leymarie Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Raphael Salkie University of Brighton
Professor Özlem Onaran University of Greenwich
Professor Claire Squires University of Stirling
Professor John Holford University of Nottingham
Professor Patrick Ainley University of Greenwich
Professor Martin Parker University of Leicester
Professor Richard Worden University of Liverpool
Professor Jenny Pickerill University of Sheffield

Strike 2016: A ‘thank you’ from UCU general secretary Sally Hunt

Dear colleague,

This is a quick note to say thank you so much for your fantastic support for the union over the past two days.

I hope you have seen this morning’s fantastic letter in the Guardian from a group of senior academics explaining why they are supporting UCU’s call to resign as external examiners and not take up new posts in order to support fair pay in higher education.

You can read the letter here.

I hope you will feel able to join them and the many others who are saying ‘no more business as usual’ until the employers agree to listen to our concerns.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

PS. You can read UCU’s guidance on how to resign here and contact Matt Waddup mwaddup@ucu.org.uk with any further queries.