UCU Industrial action strategy 2023

In the ongoing debate about what the next steps in our industrial action to restore USS benefits and obtain a better deal for pay and working conditions should be, we (UoNUCU branch committee) think that the proposal in our September motion is the most sensible: on-going strike action from the first day of the second semester, organised in such a way that members only take strike action on those days when withdrawing labour impacts the employer.
Read a longer rationale here

Branch meeting to discuss this and make your voice heard
Jan 6 2023 at 13:00
Zoom link will be sent to branch members via email

Local UCU UoN branch strike hardship payments

As we head into the next round of strike days, this branch will be complementing the national strike pay with hardship payments, where national strike pay is not sufficient and will leave a member in difficulty.

National UCU strike pay

The national union has announced its strike pay support for those taking industrial action (full details here).

Applications for payment are made direct to the national union – see link here.

Members are urged to apply to the national union for strike pay in the first instatnce

Local UCU UoN branch top up hardship payments

The local UCU UoN branch is determined to ensure that members are not prevented from participating in our strikes because of concerns about financial hardship. That is why members voted to transfer £25,000 to the local branch fighting fund, and further funds will be allocated to the fighting fund soon. This money is tosupport branch members. It has been built up by members subscriptions to ensure members do not feel forced back to work because of financial hardship. It is how we show our solidarity as Trade Unionists.

Where national strike pay is not sufficient to prevent significant financial hardship branch members are encouraged to apply to the local branch hardship fund.

For strike action between 14th February and 2nd March 2022 (10 days strike) the local union will pay a maximum of £25 per strike day (from 14th February, ie ‘Day 1’ onwards).

If you do not need to draw on these funds, we ask you not to claim. The branch is keen to ensure funds are available to those in greatest need and this is where we are keen to focus our resources. Your understanding in this regard is appreciated.

You are eligible for a local hardship payment if you meet ALL of these criteria

  1. You are a UCU member at UoN
  2. You are paying subscriptions at the correct rate (if any subscription is payable)
  3. You fully participated in the strike, ie; you did not work on any day that the union instructed us to go on strike as a result of the democratic ballot
  4. You have claimed for strike pay from the National Fighting Fund
  5. The national strike pay does not exceed or equal the deductions made to your salary

To apply for the local hardship fund

Email the branch uonucubranch@gmail.com with ALL of this information

  1. A screenshot, scanned or photographed copy of the payslip which shows the deduction made for striking
  2. Your bank details (account name, number and sort code)
  3. The dates you were out on strike
  4. The amount needed to prevent hardship as a result of strike deductions. This should not be more than £25 per strike day, or exceed the amount of pay lost after strike pay has been accounted for.
  5. Screenshot copy or other proof of application for national strike pay

Hardship Loans

It can take up to 2 weeks for national strike pay to be processed We recognise that for a few people waiting for two weeks will cause unmanageable difficulties and/or hardship. In this case, the limited local branch hardship fund may be able to lend you the amount you have claimed, to be repaid on receipt of the strike pay from UCU. You will need to be eligible in the same way and provide the same information as above.

National strike pay and local hardship payments are not taxed at source.

Branch Meeting

UCU UoN is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

UoN UCU Branch Meeting
Feb 9, 2022 01:00 PM London

Zoom link emailed to members

Please ensure you have your full name on screen or the host will remove you from the meeting

Dear Students

Why we are taking industrial action and going on strike

Staff in universities have experienced years of real terms pay cuts, combined with rising workloads. Structural inequalities and discrimination mean that those least able to pay the price bear the highest cost. Since the economic crisis in 2008 the real terms pay of university staff has declined by 20%. The gender pay gap across the sector is 15% while disabled and Black and Minority Ethnic staff continue to experience serious pay discrimination. In 2019-20 33% of academic staff were employed on fixed term-contracts. These were the workers who were ‘let go’ when the pandemic struck. Staff’s working conditions are students’ learning conditions. This means that your lecturers, professors, library and student services staff are working more hours for less pay. The university is simply refusing to invest in its most important resource—its staff.  This also means bigger class size for you and lecturers who are stretched thin and exhausted. If we don’t stand up, our working conditions, your learning conditions will be eroded beyond repair.

Since 2011, management has relentlessly attacked staff pensions. Every three years a valuation of the health of the USS pension fund is produced, which is based on highly dubious criteria, resulting in a large and artificially manufactured deficit. Staff are then asked to accept cuts to their benefits in order to address the deficit only to be confronted with the same scenario three years later. When the last period of industrial action ended in 2018, the resolution of the conflict included an agreement between employers and UCU to change jointly the method of how the fund is valuated. Employers, including our management, have now broken this agreement. The March 2020 valuation was undertaken at the height of the pandemic and during the first unprecedented national lockdown, when economic prospects looked particularly bleak. The valuation also once again used the same questionable method that management agreed to change in 2018. Unsurprisingly, the March 2020 valuation again produced a deficit and again we have been asked to accept cuts to our pensions, this time of about 12 per cent. We can no longer accept this cycle of ongoing cuts to our pension benefits. If we don’t stand up now, there will be soon little left of our pensions. These huge cuts to pensions are cuts to our pay—since pensions are deferred pay.

We do not want to have to take industrial action yet again. After a year of disruptions due to the pandemic, we have been looking forward to doing what we enjoy, teaching and supporting you. But management has forced our backs against the wall. We are left with no alternative. We do not take industrial action lightly. Every strike day implies a significant financial loss for us. If we do take action, it is because of the decisions that management is making regarding its priorities.

Support your lecturers and university staff, write to the Vice Chancellor and urge her to change management’s position on pensions and pay and working conditions. This is the only way to avoid industrial action.

UCU Committee at UoN