Staff soon to start ‘working to contract’ over ‘academic year’ workload
- Members have voted to start ‘working to contract’ on c. Monday 6th November (subject to UCU HQ authorisation), in response to elements of Kent 2030 and to senior management’s demand that every single module in the university be redesigned, to fit their financially unproven proposal for the academic year. Guidance on working to contract is forthcoming & the branch will notify members when it formally commences.
- Working to contract represents staff formally withdrawing their goodwill from senior management. Stop volunteering – stop overworking: senior management do not deserve it while they fail to meaningfully engage.
- Click for an introduction to this kind of ‘Action Short of a Strike’(ASOS) (references to the national dispute, marking & assessment boycotts and full strike action do not currently apply to this local dispute, which is legally and politically separate.)
- Note “If the ASOS called consists solely of ‘working to contract’ [as in this case], then an employer cannot impose pay deductions when you are fulfilling your contract.”
- Very few universities in the UK (except Oxford & Cambridge) teach into the summer term with credit-bearing modules. Therefore this proposal at Kent is a massive financial risk, as recruitment in certain areas could suffer catastrophically if students opt out of studying at Kent due to their summer term requiring attendance for 10 weeks at teaching events. This proposal is too high-risk financially, and would single out Kent in the sector.
- Rolling out 100% compulsory modules for Stage One for all degree courses will kill recruitment in some Divisions, it runs contrary to academic freedom, and has staffing implications.
- Click the link above for more detail. Don’t forget to lobby over the issue. A&H staff can also vote here.
Fight your corner – those who shout the loudest will win the most concessions
- The academic year changes are not a done deal: everything is up for grabs. Project Leads have started to listen.
- Lobbying works. For example, when Ancient History was targeted for closure, staff fought for their livelihoods and forced senior management to think again and saved their degree programme.
Talking to your UCU colleagues is the only way to get UCU help
- Tell your local UCU negotiators which of your “courses” have been targeted for closure(i.e. full degree programmes). Note this is intentionally a public document (though there will be no record of you entering information there), so you can also reply via email.
“What has the union ever done for us?”
- No compulsory redundancies in 2019-20
- No compulsory redundancies in 2020-21
- No compulsory redundancies in 2021-22
- No compulsory redundancies in 2022-23
- “Student Cap” Policy changed by National UCU, thanks to Kent UCU Motion. UCU will commission research on models of student distribution that will ensure stability and rebalance after years of uneven recruitment and financial precarity in the sector
- Restoration of USS pensions benefits and reduced contribution ratesexpected by April 2024
- No ‘pay freeze’ on increments in 2023-24