Feb 13

Threat of further restrictions to workers’ access to use the law

On Saturday I attended a meeting of Unison safety reps, where I’d been asked to speak about my experiences as a UCU rep fighting issues of workload, bullying and stress. One of the speakers was Phil Liptrot from Thompsons solicitors. He talked about the government’s plans to make it even harder for injured workers to claim for compensation. There is now a campaign underway, including a petition. The following text summarises Phil’s talk and gives a link to the petition, which needs many more signatures than it currently has. Please sign and circulate to others.

Regards,

David Hardman

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Another attack on access to justice for workers injured at work

This would exclude most workers injured by work from making any claim for compensation to which they are entitled as they would have to pay their own legal costs.It would let negligent employers off the hook, and reduce and incentive on them to make their workplaces safer and healthier.

Small Claims Limit – Phi Liptrot from Thompsons Solicitors spoke about the major campaign that has been launched to challenge the Government’s plan to increase the small claims limit.

He said that the proposed change will prevent 80% of injured workers from instructing a lawyer to enable them to get compensation for workplace injuries and the consequence is that the employer will be able to make their workplaces even more dangerous.  At the moment there is a £1, 000 limit.  Phil explained that claims are in two parts: general damages which include pain and suffering and special damages which include financial loss like loss of wages etc.

At the moment if the general damages  are greater than £1,000 then the individual is able to claim their  lawyer fees back from the other side.  PL also reported that 99% of cases are greater than £1, 000.  The Government proposal is to increase the limit to £5,000.  80% of all cases are less than £5,000 and will result in individuals not getting any compensation when they are injured by their job.  Even where the total claim would be much greater than £5,000 because of things like loss of wages, they still won’t be able to claim because their general damages are  below the £5,000 threshold.  General damages are determined from  a prescribed list of financial compensation for a particular condition/injury.  Individuals will have to make a decision to pay up front (if they can afford to) and then pay the lawyer out of the total if they are successful.  It means that some of these ‘fat cat’ insurers will get even ‘fatter’ at the expense of worker’s health and safety.  It was also reported that some asbestosis claims may fall into this category.

Please circulate this information and communicate it widely amongst trade union contacts.

Please encourage as many people as possible to

  • sign the online petition at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/173099  :  100,000 signatures are needed on the petition, to initiate a debate in the House of Commons, so it was agreed to support this. There are only about 16,000 signatures. There are 6 million TU Members……mmm
  • Write to MPs, urging them to oppose the changes.
  • follow @FeedingFatCats on twitter and to find out more at www.feedingfatcats.co.uk.

Nov 09

Tackling problems at work

As personal caseworkers for the UCU branch, we are often told by members that they are reluctant to use the formal grievance procedure.

UCU officers have worked with Human Resources (HR) on a guide to the informal options staff have when there’s a problem at work.   This has now been added as a staff guide to the Dignity at Work policy. Please have a look at the specific staff guide.

We commend this document to members and suggest you consult it if you find yourself in difficulties. It also makes suggestions of what colleagues might like to do if you witness inappropriate behaviour that is not directed at you.

We hope members find it useful and would welcome any suggestions for improving it.

Oct 10

UCU subscription rates

Dear University of Kent UCU members 

As you will know, union subscription rates are dependent on earnings, and national subscription rates are reviewed every year.

Current national rates, applicable from 1st September 2016 to 31st August 2017 are set out on the UCU web site at http://www.ucu.org.uk/1693.

 Please make sure – particularly if you have recently been promoted – that you are in the correct income band.

 Those members who pay by salary deduction need do nothing: the university pay office is kept informed of the current rates, and they will apply them to salaries appropriately.

 However those of you who pay by direct debit may not realise that there is NO automatic update mechanism. Neither the local branch, nor UCU headquarters know what you earn, and for membership purposes, you remain in the income band you first placed yourself until you yourself update your membership record. If you have been promoted recently you may be paying too little – if you are on maternity leave at reduced pay you may be paying too much.

 It is important that you pay the correct subscription, for the sake of both yourself and the union. From the union web site:

 “The subscription you pay is based on your earnings. Please ensure that you pay the correct subscription; failure to do so may disqualify you from receiving legal advice and other benefits.”

 You can update your membership record, including your subscription rate, at any time by going to the members page at:

 http://www.ucu.org.uk/ucumembership

 and logging in to member services.

 If you are not sure how to do this, or you have any queries about your UCU membership, please contact Owen Lyne or Mark Dean

 

Jun 23

Employment of part-time teachers – survey report presented

Update – slides available at this link – UCU report presentation 2016 06

The branch commissioned a survey and report on the employment of part-time teaching staff in the University to investigate further the concerns expressed by members. The report will be presented tomorrow:

Friday 24th of June 1pm

Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1

The meeting is also open to non-members and we would encourage non-union part-time teaching staff to come. There will be an opportunity for questions and comments on the report and further discussion about tackling the problems thrown up.

The published report has been circulated by email through the branch members list. Members who aren’t on the list should e-mail Owen Lyne (O.D.Lyne@kent.ac.uk) for a copy. We hope you will find the information in it interesting. Some printed copies will be available at the meeting.

Apr 26

Supporting the junior hospital doctors

Committee member William Rowlandson writes:

I cycled up to the hospital this morning and spent a cold hour chatting with the junior doctors.

Good turnout – over 20 people when I left – mostly BMA members (photo only catches some of them).

Group of picketing junior hospital doctors at Canterbury hospital
Pickets at Kent and Canterbury hospital – photo William Rowlandson

 

I was impressed with the public support – 9 out of every 10 cars beeped and waved, as did the bus and taxi drivers.

Some things of the chats:

  • 78% BMA turnout for the ballot. 98% in favour of industrial action.
  • NHS already has a 7-day service. It always has.
  • There are not sufficient doctors to deliver full service for the weekend. Hence the contract dispute.
  • As with teachers and lecturers, this strike is about much more than money – much, much more. There are massive structural changes taking place in the NHS. Working conditions and pay are worsening, and the end result will be poorer services offered to the patients.
  • All those I spoke to feel that Hunt is the fall guy for a wider strategy to drive down quality in the NHS, forcing patients to choose private and to sell off services to private health contractors, leading ultimately to a break-up of the NHS.
  • Hunt will stick to his guns. Unlike IDS he won’t resign nor will he be sacked.
  • The question is whether he has the power to impose the contracts. Many trust managers have already said they will not force the contracts on junior doctors. How, therefore, will Hunt actually impose the contract?

They are striking tomorrow too.

Good health to all!

Ben Hickman adds:

Tomorrow [Wednesday 27th] the BMA are bringing the pickets, from Canterbury, Ashford, Thanet, and beyond, to the High Street. Members and supporters will be marching from their picket line outside the Kent & Canterbury Hospital to the Square in front of Café Rouge, The Parade, Canterbury. They will start from 10.30am at K&C and finish at 11.30am at the Parade for some kind of rally. Obviously, it’s very likely to be the biggest political thing to happen in the city centre this year. Do come and show your support, even if it’s only for 10 minutes!

Please meet at K&C Hospital just before 10.30am

 

 

Southeast Regional TUC says:

Support our Junior Doctors –  Protect our NHS

The BMA/Junior Doctors’ dispute, against the imposition of a new employment contract and the impact of proposed changes in their terms and conditions of employment, continues. The government is seeking to portray the dispute about being about money and the loss of a premium pay rate for working on Saturdays, and to characterise the Junior Doctors as greedy. The Junior Doctors and the BMA are adamant that the critical factor in the dispute is patient safety. The contract arrangements that the government intends to impose also disadvantage doctors who wish to work part-time or take career breaks and this would impact on many female doctors. So this struggle is very much our struggle, and it is about the ethos of the NHS, the quality of care, and Junior Doctors’ terms and conditions. See:

#notsafenotfair

#JuniorDoctors

#juniordoctorsstrike

BMA

juniro-doc-2

Junior Doctors are keen for the members of the public to be seen to be actively supporting their campaign. A good source of information, intended to provide a clear and accessible review of the issues for the general public. (Click on image for link)

 

 

Apr 20

2016 pay ballot open now!

Our union is currently balloting us on the 2016 pay offer. Members should receive your ballot paper in the post by today (Wednesday 20th April) at the latest. The envelope looks like this! http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8000/ERS-envelope/Image/ERS_envelope.JPG The local committee is calling on all members to please:

  • Check the post for your ballot envelope which will look like this. http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8000/ERS-envelope/Image/ERS_envelope.JPG
  • Read and share our union’s ‘Why should I vote’ article. https://www.ucu.org.uk/whyshouldivote
  • A ballot re-issue request for will go live as of Wednesday 20th April and we have circulated that link by e-mail. If you have not received a ballot paper by then, please complete the online form
  • Complete and return your ballot paper as soon as you can in the envelope provided….it’s free!

Whatever your views on pay it really is crucial that every member votes in this ballot and that we are able to demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst staff here. The ballot closes on 4 May. Please don’t leave it to others to speak for you – cast your vote now! If you have not received your ballot paper it is very important that you click here to request one today: https://www.ucu.org.uk/no-HE-ballot-paper. The ballot period is short and closes Wednesday 4 May 2016.

Thank you.

Ballot queries

A member who is abroad and won’t be back until after the ballot period asked:

  1. Is there a way she can vote electronically?
  2. Can she authorise someone else to complete her ballot for her?
  • No – electronic voting is against the law so there is no such facility – but you could lobby your MP now for amendments in the TU Bill (on this and other questions)
  • Members need to request a duplicate ballot to be sent to an alternative address – and NOW: request a replacement here.

The University management’s response to the ballot

You may have seen the message sent out by Denise Everitt about the situation ‘we’ are in. However we are not all in it together! A few carefully chosen figures are offered to suggest what a tight corner we are in, but the management doesn’t acknowledge that pay keeps on increasing significantly in real terms at the top end. Many Vice Chancellors are earning between 10 and 20 times more than a new lecturer…..  And ours is earning approximately nine times a new lecturer on bottom of Grade 7. NINE extra points have been introduced on the Managerial and Professorial scale, taking the top of that scale from £155,002 to £180,000. Meanwhile peanuts are offered to grades 7-10 and below and anyone who’s been on the same point on the scale for the past seven or eight years has suffered a real terms pay cut of 14.5%.

Further, at the same time that they invest substantial sums of money in a buildings’ beauty contest to tickle NSS scores, universities continue to increase the use of precarious contracts for teaching and research – those activities being the core and distinctive thing universities actually DO. We in higher education owe it to our students to invest in our staff – teaching, research and academic related – so we can continue to deliver world class education and expand human knowledge. Failure to invest in “front line” staff will inevitably affect the work which is done, which means the quality of the teaching and research. That will diminish our universities’ influence and impact in the world, as well as being a gross disservice to students who are increasingly burdened with debt that they may never be able to discharge.

The higher education unions have tried and failed to move beyond the main offers year on year, of which the 1% they are offering now is typical. They say we are disrupting a timetable … in which the employer holds all the cards and meetings are timed to debilitate the union’s ability to engage in meaningful negotiations. We say it’s time to give the majority of staff a fair deal, and the unions need your participation and support to make it happen.

Paul, Sian and Owen

 

Branch officers

University of Kent branch

Dec 10

The Green Paper, TEF and Implications for Universities

Today’s branch meeting was addressed by the President of the UCU on the subject of the proposals in the ‘Green Paper’ on Higher Education. These proposals include a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ (TEF), measures to permit providers more easily to enter and leave the sector and other changes. The presentation given is available here:

Kent University 10th December 2015 Green Paper TEF

One contribution from the floor suggested that there is a lot of concern about the workability of the proposals. Because they aren’t well developed there is scope for contributions to the consultation to have real leverage. However it does seem there is a firm intention to introduce the TEF and the first cycle could run in 2016.

Concerns were expressed in the meeting about impact on workload. We are already struggling in the face of multiple indicators, and while we don’t like the look of the TEF we shouldn’t fall into the trap of making the existing alternatives look attractive either. Postgraduate students who are teaching are a vulnerable, often casualised part of the workforce and we need to respond to their interests. There will be impacts on the welfare of undergraduate students, not least from the rapid entry of private providers into the ‘market’.

The Green Paper consultation runs until 15 January 2016 – learn more from the ‘Higher education: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice’ consultation page. The UCU is working on its response – please contact branch officers if you’d like ideas passed up the chain for that response. We encourage members to use the presentation and other materials (see links in previous post) to encourage discussion amongst colleagues. Professional groups can make submissions and so can individuals.

We welcome discussion here – please bear in mind this is a public forum and be respectful of other participants.

 

Dec 07

Branch meeting – The Green Paper, TEF and Implications for Universities

Keynes Lecture Theatre 3 (KLT3) – 1pm, 10 December 2015

 

Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, has published a Green Paper setting out plans for Higher Education. These include making it easier for new providers to set up and old ones to leave HE, and a new Teaching Excellence Framework. UCU’s president Dr Elizabeth Lawrence will consider what these developments will mean for our work and how UCU can respond. She will be speaking at a meeting on the Canterbury campus.

 


 

 

Meet The President – an informal opportunity to talk to UCU’s President and other members before the talk. Light lunch and refreshments provided – Keynes Seminar Room 14 (KS14) 12 midday, 10 December 2015

Organised by University of Kent UCU – queries + requests for lunch to Paul Hubert and Owen Lyne


 

Background

UCU’s initial response 5 November 2015

Green Paper ‘Higher education: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice’ consultation page – consultation runs until 15 January 2016

http://wonkhe.com/ Good source for info and comments

Nov 23

Slides from Paul Bridge

Casualisation HE presentation from Paul Bridge on Thursday 19th November 2015.

Nov 16

UCU recruitment week November 2015

This week is the first national UCU recruitment week and we will be running several events locally.

On Tuesday 17th we will be recruiting outside the Gulbenkian Café on Canterbury campus from 11.30am until 2.30pm (or the weather intervenes).

On Wednesday 18th we have one of our regular drop-in sessions for individual assistance (which is in the UCU office Rutherford:W3.W9 from 2pm to 4pm).

Also on Wednesday 18th, we have the next meeting of our Film Club, showing ‘Cassandra’s Treasure’ in  Keynes lecture theatre 6 (KLT6)  @ 5.30 for 6pm.

Then on Thursday 19th, which is UCU’s national anti-casualisation day, we are pleased to announce the following event – please pass this information onto colleagues if you can.

Casualisation is an increasing problem in institutions across the university sector – universities increasingly rely on temporary contracts to deliver a growing proportion of their teaching and research services. UCU (the University and College Union) has been campaigning nationally and at Kent about the impact this has on people who work this way for some time. The University is now carrying out a review. Given these developments, it is all the more important that you are familiar with the protection that the union can offer you – particularly given that membership of the union is free for research students and only £1 per month for hourly-paid staff on less than £5000 a year.

To find out about the kinds of defences that the union can provide, please come along to a free lunch being provided by UCU from 12-2pm on Thursday 19 November. Pop along at any point during this time, to hear about the benefits of UCU membership and what the union is doing to ensure protection for those on temporary contracts. The venue is KBS Extension room 3 (KBSX3)

http://www.kent.ac.uk/timetabling/rooms/room.html?room=KBSX3

I hope to see and speak with many of you this week,

Best wishes,

Owen Lyne

Branch secretary

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