Jul 06

Branch alternatives to Pay Freeze

Dear UCU members,

As promised last Friday, this email will provide you with details of UCU’s alternative proposals to those offered by management.  It contains our proposals to respond to the financial shock of Covid-19 as well as key points for negotiation to achieve a more progressive approach to cost saving. It sets a priority both on saving jobs and on preserving the long-term viability and prosperity of our university.

 PLEASE NOTE: we will hold an emergency Branch Meeting tomorrow,  Tuesday 7th July at 12-1pm to discuss these proposals and hear your views. We will send zoom details separately. In the meantime, please VOTE NO in the all staff poll.

 University of Kent UCU recognises that our university is facing a critical situation as a result of the shock from Covid-19 and that drastic actions need to be taken to see us through the next year. We contend, however, that the current pay freeze and revised pay reward proposals as designed, impose a discriminatory pay cut on low- and middle-income earners (that include larger numbers of younger, female and BAME staff). The negative impact of these proposals falls disproportionately upon the shoulders of those least able to bear them.

We are therefore calling on management to adopt a more progressive approach in which high income earners bear the greater burden of any extraordinary cost cutting/saving measures and for them to combine this with a greater commitment to ensuring the collective well-being of all the University’s employees. We also believe that it is possible to set more ambitious goals for these measures both in terms of saving targets and strategic planning.

We are calling on management to enter into negotiation with us over the following alternative proposals and allied conditions for a more constructive working relationship:

1) A More Progressive Scheme

We welcome the fact that the current proposals contain some progressive elements. Insofar as the Vice Chancellor is taking a 20% cut and the Executive Group a 15% cut, we understand them to acknowledge the principle that those on higher wages should bear more of the burden of any cost savings/cuts.  However, we call on them to embrace this principle more firmly and with greater ambition (e.g. identify possible ways to protect sole income earners in single parent households from the most adverse effects of cost cutting/saving plans). We have costed two possible methods of doing this with the aim of achieving a saving target of at least £5.3m with progressive cuts starting from either £50K or £40K in one year. These include:

a) A scheme that operates with a progressive sliding scale from 2% starting at 40K up to 30% for those on the highest salaries. This produces a saving of £5.3 million.

b) A scheme that offers a similar saving of £5.3 million, but with progressive cuts beginning from 50K (this would only involve those earning above the median academic wage)

2) A Pay Cap Scheme for Higher Earners

Strict pay caps should be adopted for the duration of this proposal (AY 20/21). This should apply to those in senior managerial positions. We recommend that the VC adheres to the Office for Students VC pay/reward guidelines – namely that her wage be no higher than that of the prime minister (c.£150,000) for the duration of any staff cost saving scheme. For the duration in which the University is required to implement extraordinary cost-saving/cutting measures, we advise that no staff member (apart from the VC) should be rewarded for their work with a salary in excess of £100,000.

3) Prioritising Job Saving

We welcome the fact that management have now indicated implicitly (by the threat of job losses if the proposals are not accepted) the number of jobs that can be saved by the current proposals. We call on them to set this as a priority, and henceforth, to provide us more detailed and explicit information on how any extraordinary cost cutting/saving measures are linked to saving staff from compulsory redundancy. The commitment to job saving needs to govern the rationale of managerial decisions and policy-making through this period. It also needs to feature in all related communications to staff on these matters. Insofar as it is widely recognised that more benign market conditions lie ahead and that demand for our courses is set to increase over the next 2-5 years, saving jobs is vital for our operational sustainability and prosperity. Saving jobs is essential for our long-term success.

4) A Commitment to Transparency and Panel Review

At each step of our negotiations, UCU has repeatedly called for transparency over facts and figures, once management has put proposals on the table. It is difficult to negotiate with one hand always tied behind our backs, especially during a crisis. We urge management to increase transparency from the first moment of negotiations. We call on management to provide UCU with more access to data relating to the university’s financial situation and cost cutting plans, including all the data provided by Data HE. We call on them to allow representatives from UCU to attend and make meaningful contributions to any panels that are set up to review the progress of the pay freeze scheme and any other measures (e.g. sale of land or buildings) that are being implemented as part of initiatives to restore the university to a financially health position.

5) A commitment to restitution and pension protection

We call on university management to commit to prioritising the recompensing of staff for loss of earnings and pension contributions stemming from these plans at a time when the University finances have recovered.

These are exceptionally difficult times for this university. In all our negotiations, our priority has been saving jobs, whilst at the same time, trying to ensure that any measures deemed necessary do not fall disproportionately on those least able to bear their brunt.

Sian, Owen, Philip, Mark

UCU Branch Officers

Jul 03

Pay Freeze and Reward Strategy

Dear UCU members,

We write with reference to the email sent by the Director of HR Alison Ross-Green to all staff today.

We are disappointed by both the tone and content of the email. It misrepresents our position by blaming UCU for the failure to agree to the Pay Freeze and the Reward Strategy. UCU has at all times sought to negotiate terms that will protect our members’ interests to the maximum possible extent and safeguard the interests of our university.

In respect of the All Staff ballot: we urge you to vote against both proposals, as recommended by the vote of our branch meeting last week.

The concessions that have been offered today do not go sufficiently far – the negative impact of the proposals fall disproportionately upon the shoulders of those least able to bear them.

UCU members have been communicating their concerns to us in very strong terms; as a result, we established a working group which has come up with alternative proposals, full details of which we will send to you all on Monday; they are:

  • more progressive – protecting those at the lower ends of the pay scales

  • can meet the need for cost savings  – between £5 and £6 million

We notice that management has indicated implicitly (by the threat of job losses if the proposals are not accepted) the number of jobs likely to be saved by the current proposals. It  is the first time we have been given this information. At each step of our negotiations, we have repeatedly called for transparency over facts and figures. It is difficult to negotiate with one hand tied behind our backs. We urge management to increase transparency going forward.

Please forward this information to other colleagues in your schools and departments.

Best

Sian, Owen, Philip and Mark

UCU Branch Officers

May 21

Consultation on what Kent HR call a new Reward Strategy

Dear members,
University management have begun consultation on a new Reward Strategy.
You will need your kent credentials to see it.
These proposals would change which points on the pay spine are used for many grades – changing starting points, maximum available via automatic progression and maximum available via discretionary increments. In many cases they will reduce future pay and are partly proposed as part of university cost-saving.
If you do not understand details of the proposals or want to ask questions about how they affect your contract, please direct questions to Human Resources.
If you would like to feed comments into the branch officers, please direct them to Owen.
Please note, if we receive the very large number of comments we anticipate we may not be able to reply to them all individually, but rest assured all will be read and taken into account.
best wishes
Owen and Branch Officers

May 04

Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultative Commitee (JSNCC) – URGENT

Dear University of Kent UCU members,
There is a very important Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultative Commitee (JSNCC) meeting coming up on Tuesday 12th May.
Papers are now available on this website (you need to open the 12 May 2020 tab), though some papers are (currently) only available to members of the JSNCC:
There is very important material related to redundancy consultations, a new Religion and Profound Belief policy and many other things.
Please do feed in comments, questions, concerns, points to the UCU branch officers Owen, Philip, Mark and Sian by 9am Monday 11th May, so that we can prepare for the meeting at 2pm on Tuesday 12th May and represent you all as effectively as possible.
Best wishes
Owen, Sian, Mark and Philip

May 01

Our local strike fund is available to support you, if you need it, where industrial action has reduced your pay.

Dear University of Kent UCU members,

 

Our local strike fund is available to support you, if you need it, where industrial action has reduced your pay.

 

Even if you have already claimed, you may be able to make a further claim to the local fund.

 

Please read the details of what you can claim carefully, noting that both autumn 2019 and spring 2020 strikes are considered together.

 

For staff on over £30,000, the local hardship fund covers your first two days of strike action, and any days after the national hardship fund limit is reached. The national fund pays out from your day 3, at a rate of £50 a day, to a maximum of £800. Thus it covers your days 3-18. We then locally cover your days 19-22 (if someone has been on strike for that many in total). Thus, if you were on strike 19+ days, please supply the payslips once days 19+ are deducted, and do also consider applying to the national fund for days 3-18 (if you haven’t already).

For staff earning less than £30,000, please apply to the national fund. If you reach the limit of the national fund (£1100 in this case), then please supply evidence of losses over and above that to the local fund (and we will cover up to £75 per day for the excess).

To apply, please email your evidence (payslips for substantive staff or hours not worked forms plus proof of hourly rate for hourly paid staff) to Owen.

No explanation of hardship is required for spring claims (due to our updated branch motion) – please do claim if you need to.

Claims can be made up to 3 months from the point of the loss – if the loss came in March payroll, please claim by the end of June. If you haven’t been deducted yet, claim within 3 months of the deduction (eg by end July for April deductions), but the sooner you claim, the sooner we can pay.

Best wishes,

Owen, Mark, Des, Philip and Sian

May 01

Please read BEFORE making LOCAL and NATIONAL strike fund claims

Dear colleagues,
Please read these messages (this one, and the one below) carefully before making either local or national strike fund claims.
We have had several claims recently that weren’t to the right fund.
Please note that autumn and spring strikes are all considered together – one action, one dispute, one ballot.
Please specify in emails to the local fund whether you took part in autumn and in spring, or just spring.
If you are claiming for days 19-22 to the local fund, please provide payslips to provide evidence of ALL the deductions, so we can see you have indeed been on strike for that many.
Please include all information in one email if at all possible – so much easier for our committee when working virtually to handle.
Please don’t assume we already have your bank details – they could have changed. To pay you we need name of account holder (your name on the account, not the name of the bank), account number and sort code.
Please specify if you have claimed before or not in 2019/2020.
Best wishes,
Owen, Des and Mark

Feb 05

Dispute Update

Dear members,

This is a message concerning the results of the re-ballot over pensions, the results of which came in last week, and the announcement of further industrial action at the national level.

As many of you will know, the 2016 trade union act requires union votes to meet a 50 per cent threshold to be valid. Unfortunately, we fell short of this threshold by 26 votes in the recent re-ballot on the pensions dispute. This means that we cannot pursue strike action with colleagues elsewhere in the country to defend members’ pensions.

Given all the upheaval here at Kent associated with the ongoing reorganisation as well as the proposed redundancies and cuts, we understand that many members and colleagues have local concerns uppermost in their mind. The Kent branch has made clear to management that it will vigorously fight to defend members’ jobs and interests at the local level as well as the national level.

With respect to the national dispute, given that the employers have not moved sufficiently to meet union demands on questions of casualization and pay – two of the four fights over which we went on strike last year – the union has called for more strike action, with 14 days of walk-outs over the period covering 20 February to 13 March.

We are part of this national dispute, and therefore will be pursuing this national dispute with our colleagues at 69 other institutions up and down the country, to force the employers to make concessions to address the scandal of precarity and low pay in the sector.

The branch committee and reps are drawing up a plan of action as part of the national dispute. To this end we will have an emergency branch meeting on Monday 10 February 1-2pm (venue tbc). Please come along to give us your views and thoughts and prepare for further strike action.

In solidarity,

Philip Cunliffe, vice-president of Kent UCU branch, Sian Lewis-Anthony, Owen Lyne, Mark Dean

Jan 30

Climate Learning Week

Climate themed learning week: 10-14 February 2020

All branches are encouraged to run a climate themed learning week between 10th and 14th Frburary. 

Colleagues can find materials and ideas on the UCU web site:

https://ctlw.web.ucu.org.uk/

UCU is also fully supporting Teach the Future campaign

Mark on behalf of Branch officers and Environment reps

Jan 30

UCU week of action against workplace racism

10-14 February 2020: Building an anti-racist environment

Resources for the week of action are available from the UCU web site at:https://www.ucu.org.uk/action-against-workplace-racism 

Links to the key strands are:

  1. Barriers to progression
  2. Race pay gap
  3. Decolonising education
  4. Hostile environment

There are suggestions and resources to help stimulate discussions with Colleagues and Students.

Mark on behalf of Branch Officers and EDI reps

Jan 09

Up coming UCU week of action against workplace racism

In 2020 UCU will be holding a week of action against workplace racism starting on 10th February 2020. The theme is ‘building an anti-racist environment’.

We ask members to support the national campaign and we canvass views from colleagues about ways to promote the week at Kent. Please contact Mark Dean (g.m.dean@kent.ac.uk) in the first instance.

Details of national campaign will be posted on UCU website:

https://www.ucu.org.uk/action-against-workplace-racism

 

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