Brighton UCU Joint branch members’ meeting

To discuss ballot preparations for the Four Fights & safety on campus

Plus Jo McNeill from Liverpool University UCU

Wednesday 13 October, 1-2pm, online

Team Group-UCU Brighton [see email dated Monday 11 Oct 2021 for link, or contact a UCU branch officer]


Pay, equality, casualisation and workloads: Prepare to ballot 

The UCU’s ballot for industrial action over our Four Fights opens a week today – Monday 18th October.

The Four Fights is the name we have given our campaign over pay and related issues in Higher Education. The four issues – pay, pay equality, casualisation and workloads – form the elements of our annual claim to the university employers – UCEA – under the JNCHES negotiating framework.

We last fought our Four Fights in 2019-20, when the emerging pandemic cut away the ground from under our campaign. Our employers then used the opportunity of the pandemic to impose a 0% award last year. This was our reward for the flexibility and additional work we offered in order to keep the sector going during a global pandemic.

Inflation is at its highest level for some years. According to the ONS, the CPIH measure that our employers prefer stood at 3% last month. The RPI index used by trade unions as a more realistic measure was 4.8%. These figures will certainly rise further once the huge gas price increases are factored in. Clearly, the employers’ current ‘final offer’ of 1.5% for this year would be yet another pay cut. When considered in the context of the freeze imposed in 2020, it represents a devastating erosion of our standard of living.

Driving down employee costs

University managements have openly set about driving down the proportion of their income that they spend on pay. In the pre-92 universities, this is also taking the form of a major attack on pensions. Our colleagues in those institutions will be voting on whether to take action in defence of their pensions as well.

So much for Boris Johnson’s talk of rising pay in a high-wage economy!

The squeeze on pay inevitably produces side-effects. It means the persistence of the gender and ethnic pay gaps which shame the sector. Pressure on pay budgets encourages the use of casualised contracts on a shocking scale, as exposed in Saturday’s Guardian. And it means spiralling workloads as institutions shed staff through voluntary and compulsory redundancy while the numbers of students continue to increase.

The ballot closes on November 4th, meaning we have a little over two weeks to reach the 50% turnout threshold the law requires. Failure to reach the threshold will mean that we will have to accept the employers’ paltry offer. It might also encourage our own senior management to believe that we might be less able to resist their local attacks on our jobs, terms and conditions.

We urge members to do the following:

  • Check your membership recordtoday by visiting MyUCU and ensure the ballot paper will come to your correct home address.
  • Come to the jointUCU branch meeting on Wednesday at 1pm. Our guest speaker is Jo McNeill who will speak about Liverpool UCU’s ground-breaking recent victory against redundancies.
  • Look out for your ballot paperfrom Monday onwards. It is likely to be in an anonymous looking envelope.
  • Vote Yesto strike action and Yes to action short of strike (ASOS)
  • Post your ballot paper straight away.
  • Notify us that you have votedto avoid us pestering you to chase up your vote.


Ventilation update

Further to our advice to members on ventilation standards and what to ask your manager, UCU’s updated ventilation guidance has been published and is very useful.


Anti-racism events

Wednesday 13 October at 6.30pm, online meeting

Refugees and Migrants Welcome Here. Say no to the hostile environment!

Speakers include an Afghan student.

and this weekend is an international online conference organised by Stand Up to Racism nationally with a range of national and international speakers – see here:


COP26 Climate Summit

UCU is supporting the demonstrations coinciding with the COP26 summit calling for quicker and more serious governmental action to tackle the climate emergency and for a ‘just transition’ to a low carbon future.

Brighton UCU will be marching in the trade union block on the Brighton March for Climate Justice on Saturday 6th November.

More details to follow.

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